US Bank logo, US Bank sponsors entrepreneurship speaker series at SNC Tahoe

Business Speaker Series

SNC Tahoe Business Speaker Series Sponsored by US Bank

The SNC Tahoe Business Speaker Series brings a variety of entrepreneurs, corporate CEOs, and other business leaders to our campus to share their experience and expertise on entrepreneurism and business. The series reinforces the college’s commitment to professional preparedness with exciting opportunities for SNC students, alumni, and the local community to learn from experienced, successful business practitioners.

Thanks to the generous sponsorship of US Bank, the series is free and open to the public.
Location: TCES Tahoe Center for Environmental Science) Rm 139 / 141, on the SNC Tahoe campus in Incline Village.
Time: 11:45am – 12:45pm

Spring 2017:

Jen Gurecki

CEO and Founder, Zawadisha, Truckee
Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A microlending program providing access to rainwater tanks, clean cook stoves, and solar lamps – and business mentoring – to rural Kenyan women.

Jennifer Gurecki specializes in designing creative approaches to building resilient communities and cultivating female leadership. She is the CEO and founder of Zawadisha, a non-profit social enterprise in Kenya that provides small loans and training to women through an innovative model that is soundly pro-poor, pro-woman, and pro-environment. She also is the founder and CEO of Coalition Snow, the world’s first all-women’s ski and snowboard company, proud maker of “women’s gear that doesn’t suck”.

Prior to founding Coalition Snow and Zawadisha, she was the Executive Director of the UC Berkeley Adventure Risk Challenge (ARC) program, a literacy and leadership program for underserved youth integrating outdoor and academic education. Jennifer transformed ARC’s programming from a 40-day course to a dynamic year-round program that connected the wilderness experiences of youth with their families and communities.

For her 2006 Masters in Non-Formal Education from Prescott College, Jennifer researched non-formal educational strategies that can engage disenfranchised populations – specifically rural women in Nicaragua and Kenya – to develop a bottom-up methodology to promote social change. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Sustainability Education from the same university. When she’s not researching resilience thinking or traveling at high speeds on matatus in Kenya, she enjoys skiing deep powder in the mountains with friends and loved ones.

Nora Lacey

Founder, Nora Betyousef Foundation, Assyrian Arts Institute, Incline Village
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Assyrian Arts Institute
Connecting Assyria’s deep historical roots to today’s world.

After twenty-five years of working in the biotechnology sector, Nora Betyousef Lacey became an entrepreneur in 1994 when she founded Cell Marque Corporation, a biotechnology company specializing in cancer-detection products for pathology laboratories. As President and CEO, Nora led Cell Marque from an initial $5,000 investment with 1 employee to a 100 employee company, which manufactured and sold class one immunohistochemistry diagnostic products worldwide. The company was acquired in late 2014 by a division of the German multinational conglomerate Merck KGaA.

After the sale of Cell Marque Nora expanded her philanthropy, using part of the proceeds to establish the non-profit Nora Betyousef Foundation, dedicated to Assyrian causes. The most rewarding aspects of management during her twenty-year tenure at Cell Marque had been visioning, team building, and customer relations, so in early 2015 she started a mentorship program to encourage Assyrian entrepreneurs to follow their dreams with assistance in starting their own businesses with confidence. In January of 2016, the foundation established the Assyrian Arts Institute (AAI) to help preserve the Assyrian heritage through arts.

Nora has degrees in Biological Science and Business from San Jose State University, and has lived in Iran, California, Texas, Arkansas, and Nevada. She is married to Dr. Michael Lacey, a pathologist, and has two daughters, Sarah Aghassi, an attorney, and Roshel Aghassi, a marketing manager. Her hobbies include oil painting, stained glass, guitar, cooking, traveling, and now enjoying immensely the wonderful nature at Lake Tahoe.

Dr. Johannes Ziegler

Founder, Miaplaza Inc.,
Wednesday, February 15, 2017

“Managing Information for Rapid Action and World-Class Performance”

Dr. Johannes Ziegler is co-author, with Dr. Haim Mendelson, of Survival of the Smartest (Wiley, 1999). The research, based on a landmark study of 164 organizations worldwide conducted through a partnership between Stanford University, McKinsey & Company, and the University of Augsburg, details how the four principles of “Organizational IQ” impact a company’s ability to quickly process information and make effective decisions.

Johannes subsequently founded management consulting firm Synesis Inc. to help senior executives at companies including IBM, Intuit, Microsoft, HP, Netscape, Cisco, 3Com, Applied Materials, Atos-Origin, NTT Data, Daimler-Chrysler, and Volkswagen, improve customer orientation and agility in their organizations.

In 2004, Johannes started Miaplaza Inc., focused on “social networking for everyone”. Initially, the company partnered with traditional media conglomerates to help them transition to more interactive customer relationships. When Facebook took over the general social networking space, Johannes led Miaplaza Inc. through a radical transformation into a company focused on interactive online educational platforms for children.

Miaplaza Inc. is organized as a virtual team of 40 experts working across the globe. Twice a year the team meets in person for “development bootcamps” to tackle challenging projects. This allowed Johannes to move from Palo Alto to Truckee in 2008 where, having grown up hiking and skiing in the Swiss Alps, he tremendously enjoys the nature around Lake Tahoe. Here Johannes founded Tahoe Silicon Mountain, a networking group that has grown to more than 500 professionals in tech and related areas.

Past Seasons:

Jameson Stafford

Founder, Elevate Blue, Incline Village
Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Elevate Blue, the first true tech accelerator on the north shore, helps jump-start new launch companies with planning, architecture and creative support.

Jameson is passionate about technology. He is rapidly building Elevate Blue, founded in October 2015, and providing talented SNC graduates and interns with the opportunity to be part of a cutting edge start-up culture right here in Incline Village.

Prior to his latest venture, Jameson lived in Los Angeles. Highlights in his tech career include founding Grow Commerce, a cloud based ecommerce company for digital and merchandise distribution. Grow Commerce was sold in 2009 to Rainmaker Systems, a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ (RMKR). As the founder of Iventa Corporation, Jameson grew the company over eight years working with major business clients such as McGraw-Hill, Newline Cinema and BusinessWeek. Artistic clients were a collection of glamorous actors and rock bands such as Metallica, the Grateful Dead, Kid Rock, Hilary Duff, Jada Pinkett Smith, Bon Jovi, Godsmack and Linkin Park. Iventa was sold to CommercePlanet, a publicly traded company in 2007.

Kevin Marshall

Co-Founder & President, Clear Capital, Reno
Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Character > Formula
“The foundation of a strong customer service business is hiring friendly people that are trainable.”

In 2001, Kevin co-founded Clear Capital, is a leading provider of real estate valuation products including data, analytics, and technology solutions. Due to recent growth, Clear Capital moved its headquarters from its original location in Truckee CA to Reno, contributing to Northern Nevada’s explosive economic growth and leading the way in the lineup of California companies that have “jumped the fence” to Nevada’s more favorable business climate.Prior to Clear Capital, Kevin held several leadership positions in technology management at and JD Stewart and Associates. At both companies he was responsible for technology strategy, product strategy, and product development.At SNC, Kevin shared that he did not have a clear direction out of high school, but acquired a strong work ethic and built leadership skills working at a beeswax candle factory. Several years after college, learning to write code and developing key business relationships led to launching Clear Capital. Whether in Truckee or Reno, Kevin believes the Tahoe region provides the kind of happy outdoor enthusiasts and the educated talent pool that Clear Capital needs to thrive and compete on a national basis.

Dan Costa

CEO, First Tactical, Modesto
Wednesday, October 21, 2015

When did Work become a Four-Letter Word?
“Above all, hard work will get you somewhere, so keep going.”

Dan exemplifies a serial entrepreneur. One of Dan’s latest ventures, First Tactical, is a leading provider of apparel and accessories for first-responder and military personnel. Prior to starting First Tactical, Costa has founded or led several other companies including Royal Robins, Velvet Creamery Restaurants, Velvet Foods, Davis Lay Produce and Mallards Foods.At SNC, Dan shared how his work ethic began in high school when he started washing dishes in a local restaurant to contribute when his family was struggling economically. By the end of high school, he rose up to being a chef. With his drive and fierce work ethic, Dan developed a passion for entrepreneurship that led to launching a series of companies. Currently, he is leading five companies and just agreed to sell products from all five on their web site. Dan’s advice to students was start working early and make your mistakes at your first low level jobs. Learn from your mistakes and the people above you.

Owen Roberts

General Manager, Microsoft, Reno
Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Chances Lead to Choices Lead to Changes
“Take risks. Be open to opportunities.”

As General Manager of Microsoft in Reno, Owen leads a team of more than 2,000 employees and contractors to support the fulfillment and revenue processing operations of Microsoft’s $80+ billion business. With more than 20 years in the technology industry, Owen has held leadership roles in diverse areas including finance, marketing, sales, and operations. Prior to joining operations, Owen was General Manager of Microsoft’s Global Supply Chain.Owen’s presentation highlighted the profound impact that embracing the unpredictable and choosing to take risks can have on learning, thriving, and growth. He outlined his steps to Making an Impact, which are: credibility; respect; trust; inclusion; influence; and finally impact. As a South African, Owen shared how he built an international business career, but still managed to take time to sail the globe for a year with his wife of over 20 years.

Ron Randolph-Wall

Founder, Quantum Loyalty Systems, Incline Village
Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How, Without any Cost of Goods Sold, I Earned over $100 Million while Working in Incline Village.
“Look for the anomalies in the business world to find new opportunities.”

Ron is a creative person and brilliant showman. Most recently, he founded Quantum Loyalty Systems in Incline Village, creating the first universally accepted movie certificate. Ron sold Quantum Loyalty Systems to Comcast/Fandango.Ron’s career includes developing the world’s first professional sports affinity cards for the NFL and NBA, and other successful products in the promotions industry. He also created major successful marketing campaigns for companies such as The Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros., Procter & Gamble, American Express, and Visa.

At SNC Tahoe, Ron revealed the entrepreneurial secrets behind his phenomenal career. Leaving school in London at age 14, he eventually went to New York to be a “coffee boy” at a Madison Avenue advertising firm. Using his bravo and creativity, he rose up in the field to become one of the leading “mad men” in the advertising arena by creating new products and concepts. With Quantum Loyalty Systems, Ron opened offices in sixteen countries and did so without any debt. He also avoided selling any interest in his company to get a capital infusion, a step that many entrepreneurs must do. Ron’s advice to students was to look for the anomalies in the business world to create new opportunities, products or companies. He suggested that students review the Wall Street Journal and circle all the possible holes in the business models in the companies outlined in the paper for inspiration.

Roland Schumann

Founder, SwapDrive, Inc., Washington, DC
Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Entrepreneurship – Is It Right for You?
“An entrepreneur is a risk taker who must be able to stomach massive uncertainty.”

Roland’s company. SwapDrive, Inc., was a pioneer in the cloud storage industry and was acquired by Symantec Corporation in 2008.   Prior to SwapDrive, he was a senior associate at Booz Allen Hamilton, where he provided technical risk management services and was an information systems developer for the Advanced Technologies group within Thomson Corporation.Earlier life, Roland served in the US Army as an intelligence officer working in the jungles of Central and South America on counter-narcotics and arms-smuggling interdiction missions. Qualified as a paratrooper, jungle warfare and counter-terrorism expert, he attained the rank of captain before pursuing his civilian career. Roland is a member of Sierra Angels and the Angel Capital Association, and serves as a guest-lecturer at leading business schools such as the Thunderbird School of Global Management, George Washington University, Georgetown University and SNC Tahoe.

Roland outlined the professional and personal factors that one needs to consider before becoming an entrepreneur. He shared how his military career, his M.Sc. degree in Management Information Systems and friendship with a fellow student led to partnering and launching his innovative cloud storage company. Chronicling the pros and cons of accepting venture capital funds and his company’s steps forward, Roland gave students an insider’s view of a risk filled, but successful start-up experience.