No one can question the devotion of Bruce Herring ’87, P’19 to Babson.
Herring, a former senior executive at Fidelity Investments, fell hard for Babson’s quaint New England surroundings and sterling reputation after his first campus tour, and he has served on the Board of Trustees for the past 16 years, chairing several key committees.
But, the New York native admits, he never really thought of himself as an entrepreneur.
“I didn’t start a business. I’m not Arthur Blank (’63, H’98). I worked at a corporation. There are so many amazing successful alumni entrepreneurs at Babson, and I wasn’t one of them,” Herring said. “My relationship with the word ‘entrepreneurship’ started to shift, however, when we started to discuss, ‘What does it mean to be an entrepreneurial leader?’ For the first time in a long time, I began to identify with entrepreneurship at Babson in a way that I hadn’t before.”
Herring and Babson will further their commitment to fostering entrepreneurial leadership through the Herring Family Entrepreneurial Leadership Village (ELV)—a sweeping, one-of-a-kind facility where students, alumni, faculty, stakeholders, and staff will collaborate and experiment as they learn.
Construction of the new village, which will include classrooms, collaborative spaces, and a café, is expected to start in the late spring 2023. For Herring, the real gift is seeing the College’s strategic plan expand its focus to entrepreneurial leadership so that every Babson student can benefit from the College’s trademark entrepreneurial teachings.
“Everybody who comes out of Babson can develop the skills of being entrepreneurial and being a leader. So, it’s inclusive of finance and marketing and investment majors. All of our students can develop the skills to be problem solvers, to be creative, and to excel in organizations when others struggle,” Herring said.
“In that regard, to me, it’s more powerful than the notion of teaching people to start businesses. That’s very important, but this is a broader, more encompassing lesson that affects everybody. And, to me, that’s why Babson students, whether you’re an entrepreneurship major or not, are going to be distinct in the world—because they’ve learned what it means to get stuff done.”
A Different Kind of Entrepreneur
Dozens of Babson community members along with Herring’s friends and family gathered outside the Babson Executive Conference Center (BECC) on Thursday evening to kick off construction of the ELV and honor Herring as well as the strategy behind the entrepreneurial leadership village.
Against a celebratory backdrop that included sparkling fireworks in the crisp autumn air, Herring pointed out that the ELV will help take entrepreneurship at Babson beyond startups to include the entrepreneurial leadership skills needed to be successful in any business.
“The future, in my opinion, is teaching people to be creative, problem-solving, action-oriented leaders in their organizations and community,” Herring said. “That’s what Babson does, and my family and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of that big strategy.”
Herring, like the majority of Babson’s graduates, didn’t concentrate in entrepreneurship. He had taken an interest in finance in high school and decided on Babson after one look at the picturesque Wellesley campus.
“I toured a bunch of schools in the area, and the minute I walked onto the Babson campus, I knew that was where I wanted to be,” Herring said. “It’s the only school I applied to, the only school I got into, and I’ve never looked back.”
He picked up a night job at Fidelity Investments during his junior year and was hired as a full-time analyst when he graduated, impressing supervisors and rising through the ranks for 34 years to become president of Fidelity’s Strategic Advisers, Inc. (SAI) in 2015.
“I really believe in the strategy of the school. I believe in Babson’s mission, and I believe in Steve’s vision for the future and the importance that entrepreneurial leadership will make to the students of Babson and to the world,”
Bruce Herring ’87, P’19
Meanwhile, Babson was burnishing its international reputation as the entrepreneurial powerhouse. Herring said when a colleague and fellow Babson graduate at Fidelity decided to retire, he took her post on the Board of Trustees in 2006.
“I’ve always felt a strong connection to Babson, but having not been a true entrepreneur in the classic sense, I couldn’t quite relate to what it meant to be an entrepreneur,” Herring said.
His viewpoint started to shift after several conversations with President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD and others. “Under Steve’s leadership, we started talking about what it means to be an entrepreneurial leader and a creative problem solver,” he said. “I started to realize that, in fact, while I wasn’t an entrepreneur in the classic sense, I was an entrepreneurial leader.”
The Herring Family ELV will be the physical representation of the inclusive, people-focused strategy that Herring praised—a strategy focused on entrepreneurial leaders impacting communities everywhere.
The physical village will serve as a space that brings students, faculty, staff, partners, and new stakeholders together, as a community, for unique living and learning experiences as well as educational experimentation. The Babson Executive Conference Center will be located within the ELV. The project is fully financed through the generosity of funders such as Herring, The Blank Foundation, and others.
“Bruce connects with humanity on an individual basis and somehow elevates his mind and affections to a societal level,”’ Spinelli said. “I think he is a world-class executive, an inspiring trustee, and a truly wonderful person. Babson is blessed to have Bruce Herring and his family as a part of our family.”
ELV pilot programs are already happening, a fact that has Herring thrilled because his main focus has always been inclusion via strategy.
“I really believe in the strategy of the school. I believe in Babson’s mission, and I believe in Steve’s vision for the future and the importance that entrepreneurial leadership will make to the students of Babson and to the world,” Herring said.
“Over time, the village is going to evolve. It’s going to grow as the program matures and gets more developed as more students get involved,” Herring said. “It’s a place where students can live, they can co-create and experience new things, get educated, combine, and collide. But really, it’s so much more than a facility. What’s powerful is the strategy, and that’s what I’m investing in.”
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