Alumnus returns as Executive-in-Residence
BY ALESHA JAMES and NEPHTHALIE LAUTURE
Matt Ernst, a 1999 University of Mary Washington alumnus, chairman of Walnut Groves Holdings, LLC and UMW executive-in-Residence for 2013-2014 will discuss his experiences the UMW and local community.
Ernst will talk with local business leaders and alumni, as well as faculty and students in the College of Business about the potential risks and successes of starting a business, on Wednesday, Feb. 26 and Thursday, Feb 27.
Ernst is the founder of Amentra, which was eventually sold to Red Hat, the world’s leading provider of Linux and open source technology, in 2008. This company is centered on creating innovative resources and techniques for businesses while also promoting simple and easy ways to move companies forward. Amentra soon became a fast growing company under Ernst’s supervision. In 2007 Ernst received the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.
“We are looking forward to having him visit to share how his UMW education prepared him to conceptualize and begin his own business and then to grow it so that it was attractive to another company,” said Lynne Richardson, dean of the College of Business and professor of marketing. “Students should be inspired by his story and realize that they too, can achieve their dreams of owning their own businesses, should they choose to pursue this path.”
Ernst’s life experiences will provide assistance to students graduating with a degree in business.
“Matt Ernst has real world experiences from his life and problems or dilemmas he has uncovered along his career. Offering these stories to students looking to graduate with a business degree could help them in their long-run career,” said Samantha Carlson, a senior business major.
Ernst will also be able to teach students what they need to know when starting their own business.
“I think that Matt Ernst’s visit will be very beneficial to the students, especially those that are looking into starting their own company,” said Christian Clift, a senior business major. “It will give them an idea of what running a business will be like, as well as an opportunity to ask any questions that they may have.”
The Executive-in-Residence program existed at UMW for 25 years. The program is organized by the College of Business and the Division of Advancement and University Relations. The program is also responsible for bringing over 40 entrepreneurs and business leaders to UMW.
On Wednesday, Feb 26, at the Stafford Campus, Ernst will lead an alumni and student discussion at 6 p.m., followed by a reception. On Thursday Feb. 27, at the Fredericksburg Campus, Ernst will speak to regional business leaders at the invitation-only Executive-in-Residence Business Breakfast. Ernst’s presentation, “Entrepreneurialism: Taking Risks and Lessons in Leadership”, will chronicle his experiences as a business leader and entrepreneur.
“His visit will benefit them because you can always learn from someone else’s successes and failures,” said Maggie McGraw, a senior business major. “By asking him questions we can learn that we are on the right path or what we need to do to get there because he had been in the same position that we are currently in.”
McGraw finds the program to be beneficial due to the different professionals that students can learn from.
“An insider’s point of view is always helpful in my opinion. I find this program to be greatly beneficial. You can have the opportunity to learn from professionals from all walks of life including the path that you want to follow,” said McGraw.