HBS Rock Center Appoints New Director

Meredith McPherron ’89 was born to be an entrepreneur--both of her parents started their own companies. Now she is trying to bring the entrepreneurial spirit she is so familiar with to the Harvard Business School.

As the newly appointed director for the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, McPherron, who also graduated from the Business School in 1993, said there are many opportunities to foster innovation developments throughout the University, in an interview Tuesday.

“Our mission is to serve our community, both as an exceptional resource for entrepreneurship and also as a primary gateway to vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems everywhere,” McPherron said. “We’re really excited collectively…to embark on that journey.”

Before coming to the Rock Center, McPherron was working on her own venture in the education technology space. She also consulted for several startups and held positions in marketing at companies such as General Mills, Guinness Import Company, and Direct Hit Technologies.

Now back at Harvard, McPherron expressed enthusiasm for the Rock Center, which consists of 34 faculty members, offers 26 courses in the Business School’s second-year elective curriculum, and is a source of funding and organization for many entrepreneurial projects. McPherron assumes her position after the Harvard Innovation Lab opened in November 2011.

“Students can come to us for a very focused gateway to all entrepreneurial activities, both at Harvard and beyond, and understand what’s right for them. They can go over to the i-Lab for specific space and workshops and cross-collaboration experiences,” McPherron said. “We really coexist quite beautifully.”

McPherron sees other opportunities to work closely with the Harvard Business School’s Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development (FIELD) curriculum for first-year students, which launched last year. Under the FIELD curriculum, students are provided seed funding to develop their own startups, during the third phase of the school year.

“Our hope is that as these new businesses are developed in FIELD III, those that have strong interest and potential to continue will be well-supported by the Rock Center,” she said.

Business School professor Thomas R. Eisenmann ’79 said McPherron’s strong Harvard background puts her in a unique position to build partnerships between the Rock Center and the rest of the University.

“I think a big part of our success in entrepreneurship going forward is to get the University working together as we do at the I-Lab,” Eisenmann said. “It helps to have someone who’s an alum of both places to facilitate that.”

McPherron succeeds Business School lecturer Michael J. Roberts ’79 as director of the Rock Center. Roberts served as the first director when the center was founded in 2003.

—Staff writer Brian C. Zhang can be reached at brianzhang@college.harvard.edu.

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