“Entrepreneurship brings together so many skills— analysis, strategy, negotiation, and creative problem-solving,” says Tom O’Brien ’60. “That’s what makes it so exciting.”
A longtime BC donor and member of the Shaw Society, which recognizes those who have included the University in their estate planning, O’Brien recently made a gift to the new Edmund H. Shea Jr. Center for Entrepreneurship.
“I was glad to see BC focusing on entrepreneurship through the establishment of the Shea Center, because it’s an area of business education that hasn’t received enough focus until recently,” says O’Brien.
“The Shea Center’s mission is to integrate entrepreneurial skills and knowledge into the educational experience of BC students across all disciplines,” says Jere Doyle, executive director of the center. “Tom understands our vision, and gifts like his are vital to developing those critical skills in our students.”
That interdisciplinary approach is what most impressed O’Brien, who says entrepreneurial skills are vital in any new venture.
“Being an entrepreneur is about more than just taking a company public or building a new app,” says O’Brien. “It’s broader than that. A nursing student might start a service company or an educator might launch a charter school.”
BUILDING A LEGACY
O’Brien began his career working for such large corporations as Nestlé, Rawlings Sporting Goods, and General Foods. He handled more than 100 mergers and acquisitions and quickly became known for his successful company turnarounds. He then moved into venture capital and operations, using his expertise to identify struggling companies, analyze their strengths and weaknesses, restructure them, and market them for resale.
O’Brien credits Boston College for much of his professional success, but the depth of his affection for the University extends beyond the academic—it’s where he met his late wife, Betty. In a bit of a twist on a BC love story, she wasn’t an Eagle—rather, an Olympic-level figure skater who practiced at BC’s ice rink.
It’s in her memory—as well as in honor of his late father and his granddaughter, both BC alumni—that O’Brien made his gift to the Shea Center, and he hopes to inspire others to leave their own legacy at the Heights.
“We are a BC family,” says O’Brien, “and I’m proud to shape the future of Boston College.”