Beyond the detailed advice he offers in those lectures, he advises all business students to learn to write well, to hone one very difficult analytical skill, and to familiarize themselves with areas of business outside of their specialty. Data analysts, for instance, should be able to freely converse with marketers about their duties, and vice versa, he says.
"I wish somebody had clued me in to some of this stuff when I was young, and contextualized all the trauma I had to go through—like we all do—in trying to figure this out," he says. "I'm being naïve in thinking that just by telling them I'm going to save them from anything, but I do get E-mails and feedback from people that they took one or two really important things that have made a difference in their lives."
Peter Russo, executive in residence and senior lecturer at the Boston University School of Management and former CEO of Data Instruments: Russo joined BU's faculty in 1999 after a 15-year stint at the helm of technology firm Data Instruments. When international conglomerate Honeywell International purchased Data Instruments in 1998, Russo opted to transition into a career in academia. He was certain he wanted to be a teacher, given that one of his Harvard Business School professors had long suggested it suited him.
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Currently, Russo teaches "Starting New Ventures," an M.B.A. class for budding entrepreneurs that draws upon Russo's experience growing Data Instruments from a startup to a 500-employee firm worthy of interest from a corporate giant like Honeywell. Though he says he learned many lessons in his decade and a half at the helm of the firm, he's hesitant to impart too many war stories to his students. Instead, he focuses strongly on aspects of entrepreneurial process—such as creating value in a new brand and navigating capital markets to raise money—that his experience at Data Instruments taught him. "It's hard to describe if you haven't been through it," he says.
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