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Sustaining Entrepreneurship Research

Lemann Foundation gift to USC Marshall funds a new endowed chair, scholarships.

April 16, 2018
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Noam Wasserman, professor of clinical entrepreneurship and the founding director of the Founder Central Initiative at USC Marshall’s Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, has been named the Jorge Paulo and Susanna Lemann Chair in Entrepreneurship.

The Lemann Foundation of Brazil made a gift to USC Marshall to fund entrepreneurship research and student scholarships in 2017.

“Dr. Wasserman’s research into early decision-making by founders has been ground-breaking,” said Helena Yli-Renko, professor of clinical entrepreneurship, Orfalea Director’s Chair in Entrepreneurship and academic director of the Greif Center. “We are grateful to the Lemann Foundation for making this prestigious endowed chair possible.”

Wasserman joined USC Marshall in 2015 after 13 years on the faculty of Harvard Business School.  He is the founding director of the Founder Central Initiative within the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. The initiative creates and disseminates knowledge about the early decisions faced by founders in the creation and growth of new firms.

"The culture at the Marshall School and at the Greif Center are the perfect combination of entrepreneurial yet supportive, from the dean and our department chair to my colleagues and our wonderful donors." --Noam Wasserman, Jorge Paulo and Susanna Lemann Chair in Entrepreneurship.

His book, The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup, was an Amazon #1 bestseller in Management and won the Academy of Management’s Impact on Practice award. His second book, Life is a Startup: What Founders Can Teach Us About Making Choices and Managing Change, will be published by Stanford University Press in the fall.

In addition to his scholarly work, Wasserman serves in multiple leadership roles. He serves on the Advisory Boards of the Kauffman Foundation and Inc. Magazine and on the Executive Board of USC Marshall’s Institute for Outlier Research in Business (iORB). He also is chairman of the board of the Torah Academy school in Boston.

Wasserman earned his Ph.D. in organizational behavior from Harvard in 2002, after earning an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1999. A native of Los Angeles, he has eight children and two grandchildren.

Noam Wasserman with USC Provost Quick, Dean Ellis, Jorge and Susanna Lemann
L to R: USC Provost Michael Quick, Dean James. G. Ellis, Noam Wasserman and donors Jorge Paulo and Suzanne Lemann.

“The culture at the Marshall School and at the Greif Center are the perfect combination of entrepreneurial yet supportive, from the dean and our department chair to my colleagues and our wonderful donors,” said Wasserman. “When we saw a need to grow our founder-centric efforts and began crafting our plans for Founder Central, we got the support needed to make it happen, even faster than anyone expected.  Likewise with JP and Suzanne Lemann: Their support and encouragement has been invaluable for helping maximize the impact that we can have on our next generation of high-impact founders and startups—on campus, in Southern California, in Brazil, and beyond.”

Supporting Scholarship

The Lemann gift also supports up to six scholarships for Brazilian students enrolled in USC Marshall’s Master of Science in Social Entrepreneurship degree (MSSE).

“By establishing these student scholarships, the Lemann Foundation is making true long-term impact,” said Adlai Wertman, David C. Bohnett Professor of Social Entrepreneurship and academic director of the MSSE program. “These students will return to Brazil with the tools to create sustainable social enterprises.”

“We believe this new partnership with USC will help young social entrepreneurs to promote change in our country,” said Denis Mizne, Lemann Foundation’s CEO.

The Lemann Foundation, a non-profit family organization founded in 2002 by Jorge Paulo Lemann, works to ensure that all Brazilian children receive quality public education and to create a network of talented people dedicated to solving the main social problems in the country. To achieve this goal, the Lemann Foundation develops programs that impact millions of public school students throughout Brazil and supports institutions of excellence that work for a fairer and more developed country. It has also partnered with Columbia, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Yale, UCLA, UIUC, and the University of Oxford.