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President Walk Encourages New Entrepreneurs to Follow the Lead of Gloria Bohan ’63, H’03 and ‘Listen’

  • President Kerry Walk, Ph.D.
    Cuppek Photography LLC
MMC President Kerry Walk, Ph.D., was recently tapped by Travel Weekly for her thoughts on how new entrepreneurs and small businesses can position themselves for success and have a powerful philanthropic impact. She appeared in a special fall issue of the magazine commemorating industry pioneer, alum, and former MMC trustee Gloria Bohan ’63, H’03.

Bohan’s business, Omega World Travel, is one of the country’s top women-owned companies and marked its 50th anniversary this year.

According to President Walk, Bohan’s success in taking the company from a small storefront business to a global enterprise with 200 offices around the world offers a blueprint for other entrepreneurs.

“I think entrepreneurship is being able to see opportunities and fill the need,” President Walk said. “When I asked Gloria how she knew how to evolve the business, she said something that struck me. She said, ‘I listen to people. I listen to other travel agents, I go to conferences and listen to whatever the industry is saying, I listen to our customers and what their needs are. I listen.’”

That’s striking, President Walk added, “because when we think about entrepreneurs, we sometimes think of them as coming up with a really kooky, crazy, cool idea. Gloria has certainly had very interesting, progressive, and amazing ideas, but to have done it with vision and with listening is a unique combination. I feel very inspired by her kind of entrepreneurship.”

With the magazine noting that diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts should be part of every company’s foundation, President Walk also explained why such commitments are pivotal to a business’s success.

“A more diverse workforce brings different experiences and different perspectives to the work, and the understanding that different groups in our society might have different interests and needs,” she said. “When the workforce is diverse, it can bring an expansive understanding of the needs of clients.”

Though Bohan has long been recognized as a business icon, she’s had a significant impact on the philanthropic world as well, supporting community-based projects through the Dan and Gloria Bohan Foundation. Indeed, she established a scholarship at MMC in 2007 that has aided dozens of students from low-income backgrounds who would not have been able to attend college without the support.

“Gloria is a very serious philanthropist and is interested in making a difference in the lives of individuals and communities,” President Walk said. “She is interested in ensuring that as many people as possible have rewarding life experiences.”

President Walk said that small businesses looking to follow Bohan’s lead and do good in the world could start by choosing a cause they feel strongly about. “That seems obvious for individuals, but for small businesses, it’s just as important, whether that is connected in some way to the mission of the company or to interests that those who work at a company have.”

Read the entire issue of the magazine here.