On the road, up the ladder

Exeter Business Club tests its corporate aptitude around the country, then brings entrepreneurial spirit back to campus.

Porter Hayes
July 13, 2018
Exeter Business Club members at an FBLA competition

With nearly 200 clubs at the Academy — from Debate, Dramat and Chess to more rarified offerings like Ex-A-Sketch and Exeter Off-Planet Society — there is truly something to ignite every student’s passions. But it wasn’t until 2014 that entrepreneurship officially took hold of campus consciousness with the founding of the Exeter Business Club, a group designed to explore economics and the basics of running a new venture. 

Over the past four years, the EBC has evolved and grown. The 50-member club meets weekly with adviser Marijka Beauchesne, Exeter’s acting chief financial officer, to pore over stock investment portfolios and social innovation projects. They also host small-group sessions with best-selling authors, CFOs, governors and distinguished professors to bring the business world to life. This year, the club sponsored two schoolwide assembly programs — one with alumnus Paddy Spence ’85 (the current CEO of the all-natural beverage company Zevia) and the other with Ross Baird ’03 (CEO of Village Capital, a company that finds, trains and invests in early-stage entrepreneurs with business solutions to major global problems).

As a competing chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America, the EBC travels across the country for state and national competitions. Students compete in mock job interviews, prepare sales presentations and take tests on economic theory. In the first three years of the club, three Exeter students placed among the top four in the nation in their respective categories. Earlier this summer at the 2018 national competition in Baltimore, rising upper Ben Cai ’20 ranked eighth in the business calculations category.

Some of the participants shared reflections from their experience in Baltimore:

From Aarsh Kak: "I learned about the prevalence of counterfeit goods in U.S. and global markets,” said Aarsh Kak ’19 of a workshop named “Unreal Campaign: How Do Fakes Harm You.” “The speaker emphasized the poor quality of counterfeit goods, and the adverse risks that come from using counterfeits. He used the example of counterfeit shoes to show that not only will the quality not stand the test of time, it may also have poor arch support and could cause knee problems later on. We ended the workshop by playing a game, Spot the Fake, where we had to decide whether a good was real or fake.”

Cai said of the “Tips for Effective Presentation Skills,” “Marina Marmut, the speaker, emphasized how presentations should not only be tailored to the intended audience (e.g. teenagers vs. senior citizens) but it should be tailored to yourself, as well; in other words, do whatever makes you feel comfortable (e.g. starting the presentation with a joke if you are a humorous person) so you can effectively convey your message.”

This fall, the club will take what they have learned to Exeter-area schools to teach elementary school students different business and engineering skills — preparing the next batch of entrepreneurs and leaders.

Porter Hayes is an associate director of admissions and adviser to the Exeter Business Club.