Arthur M. Blank ’63, H’98: Empowering and Inspiring Entrepreneurial Leaders

Arthur Blank poses for a photo in front of the Babson Globe

Entrepreneurial leaders find and solve problems. They focus on people and relationships. And, they create economic and social value simultaneously.

Over a career as a renowned entrepreneur and philanthropist, Arthur M. Blank ’63, H’98 stands as one of the world’s most exemplary entrepreneurial leaders. 

The famed co-founder of The Home Depot, Blank owns and operates The Blank Family of Businesses, including the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, MLS’s Atlanta United, PGA TOUR Superstore, and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Guided by six core values, his businesses put customers and fans at the center and work to improve their communities. 

Arthur Blank gestures while speaking
Arthur M. Blank ’63, H’98 at Babson in 2020. (Photo: Michael Quiet)

He was an early signer of The Giving Pledge, and The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation now has committed more than $1 billion to support a wide array of impactful initiatives across the country. 

Blank has been recognized by Forbes as one of the World’s 100 Greatest Living Business Minds and as one of America’s Top 50 Givers. He was Sports Business Journal’s Sports Executive of the Year in 2018 and ESPN’s Sports Philanthropist of the Year in 2021.

His experiences and example serve to empower and inspire future generations of entrepreneurial leaders, especially at his alma mater, Babson College.

Blank will return home to Babson this month to address the undergraduate Class of 2024 at the College’s Commencement ceremonies May 11 on the Wellesley campus. 

“It’s always special to come back to Babson whenever I have the chance, and it’s uniquely special to be part of the Commencement,” Blank said. “Graduation is an exciting time for students, and I’m truly honored to be part of this milestone moment.” 

Blank and Babson 

Blank’s Babson roots run deep. When he visited campus in 2020, he reminisced about once meeting Roger Babson at a Founder’s Day event. As an undergraduate student, Blank planted the seeds for his future successes before graduating in three years in 1963. 

Blank eventually was inducted into Babson’s Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs® in 1995, and he received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the College in 1998. 

“I have many great moments and memories at Babson,” Blank said. “However, what always stands out to me was the opportunity to really lean into my entrepreneurial spirit during my time here. Specifically, I started a laundry-collecting business while on campus, and fondly remember creativity being celebrated during my time here, and that is clearly still a priority on campus today.” 

The creative, innovative, entrepreneurial campus today has been shaped by Blank’s commitment to the College and his investment in its programs, faculty, and its students. 

“One of the College’s greatest supporters, Arthur has had a revolutionary impact on entrepreneurship education in our community,” Babson President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD said. 

“It’s always special to come back to Babson whenever I have the chance, and it’s uniquely special to be part of the Commencement. Graduation is an exciting time for students, and I’m truly honored to be part of this milestone moment.”
Arthur M. Blank ’63, H’98

Blank’s generosity helped launch The Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship, which was established in 1998 and celebrated its 25th anniversary last fall. The Blank Center is a leading hub of incubation, acceleration, and thought leadership for entrepreneurs and home to the world’s largest dedicated entrepreneurship faculty. 

Blank also helped power Babson’s expanded focus on entrepreneurial leadership with a transformative $50 million gift from the The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation in 2019. The historic investment helped spur the creation of the Herring Family Entrepreneurial Leadership Village and established The Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership, home to six of the College’s world-renowned centers and institutes, including the Blank Center. 

“It’s truly a humbling honor for this school and program to exist,” Blank said. “My only wish for those part of it is to chase their dreams and be a positive values-based force in this world.” 

The gift also established the Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership Scholars, a four-year, full-tuition scholarship for high-achieving, high-potential students. The inaugural cohort of scholars is graduating this spring, giving them a chance to hear directly from Blank at the Commencement ceremony. Blank’s advice to them: “Always stay true to your values and believe that you are equipped to achieve greatness. The future is yours to create, and that pressure is a blessing.” 

Arthur M. Blank ’63, H’98 and Babson College students
Arthur M. Blank ’63, H’98 and Babson students meet at The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation in Atlanta.

Values-Based Leadership 

Blank’s influence at Babson also has been a driving force in the College’s focus on values-based leadership. 

In 2020, Blank wrote the bestselling business book, Good Company, in which he shares his vision and a road map for values-based leadership. He also outlines the six core values that serve as the bedrocks of his businesses: Put People First, Listen and Respond, Include Everyone, Innovate Continuously, Lead by Example, and Give Back to Others. Blank returned to Babson’s campus in fall 2020 to discuss the core values and values-based leadership in a fireside chat with Spinelli. 

“I have many great moments and memories at Babson. However, what always stands out to me was the opportunity to really lean into my entrepreneurial spirit during my time here.”
Arthur M. Blank ’63, H’98

Blank’s core values have served as building blocks for the Blank School, and Good Company has served as inspiration for a unique course: Good Company, Good Game: Law, Ethics and Leadership in Sports Businesses. The course, created and taught by Assistant Professor of Practice Leslie Garbarino, includes a weeklong trip to Atlanta to experience firsthand how his six core values shape the Blank Family of Businesses. Blank also meets with students during the week, sharing his leadership advice. The course has been especially inspirational for students pursuing a career in sports

Inspired by Blank’s example and empowered by the opportunities he helped forge at Babson, students graduate as entrepreneurial leaders prepared to lead by their own values.  

“Values mean different things to different people,” Blank said. “I think it’s imperative for students to identify what matters to them and protect it and believe in it. If you believe in what you’re doing, work won’t feel like work, it’ll feel like it’s your purpose.” 

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