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Managing the Transition from Engineer to Entrepreneur

Ben Flor MBA'10

UNITED AIRLINES EMERGING LEADERS PROGRAM

Ben Flor

"The entrepreneurship program at Kelley has been an excellent experience for meI would definitely do it all over again!

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It's hard to predict where you'll find tomorrow's business leaders. Ben Flor had been working for several years as a mechanical engineer and had never taken a single business class when he decided to come to Kelley in 2008. His passion for figuring out how things work–and how to make them work better–made him a natural for Kelley's entrepreneurship program.

He got to experience entrepreneurism at its most elemental level during a summer internship at Plug and Play, a Silicon Valley business incubator that has nurtured household names including Google, Logitech, and PayPal. Entrepreneurs have to be jacks of all trades. During his time there, Flor created a marketing presentation for potential tenants and investors. He helped a Plug and Play tenant create marketing materials and a venture capital pitch. He wrote a business plan to guide the Plug and Play's expansion into three new facilities. He even organized a grand opening party.

It was more than an internship. It was an education. "I have learned first-hand about startup companies, real estate, venture capital, and angel investors,” he says.

That flexibility and range of experience gave him a lot of options. After graduation, he joined United Airlines' Emerging Leaders Program, where his task is finding solutions on what United considers the three most important elements of its business: how it makes money, how it attracts customers, and how it gets planes off the ground. The answers will likely span a range of functions. It's a perfect assignment for an entrepreneur–and a former engineer.

Published April 14, 2011