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Innovation inspiration to bring top CEOs to campus

Over 30 CEOs are coming to PLNU Oct. 8 to speak at a workshop in the hope of inspiring students from all areas of study to become entrepreneurs and solve the world’s problems.

The Innovation Inspiration Workshop, free to students, expects to bring 200 students together in small groups of four to discuss a problem in the world and pitch a solution with the feedback and assistance of these 35 CEOs. Currently, about 100 students are registered. The event runs from 6:30-9 p.m. in Crill Performance Hall.

“It’s just amazing to me because they [the CEOs] want to challenge Point Loma Nazarene University students to be innovative and creative in each of their disciplines. That’s how we’re going to change the world for Christ,” said Steve Seelig, senior director of planned giving in University Advancement.

These CEOs come from a wide range of companies, including Qualcomm, Hewlett Packard, the National Christian Foundation, Merrill Lynch and Mintz Levin. A few PLNU graduates will also be present as judges: Thomas Fitzpatrick (’01), Paul Chen and Mike Marcacci (’11).

At the event’s conclusion, 10 finalists will sell their idea to the panel of judges for significant cash prizes, which the coordinators won’t disclose until the event. Each student will receive a t-shirt and a workbook.

Seelig wants this workshop to allow students to exercise their skills and passions, but also establish professional connections after PLNU.

“If I were a student, I would want to be a part of this for these reasons: I know that I need to hone my skills at the university, I know I’m going to need a job in two to four years and I would be looking to develop relationships with proven professionals who are successful,” Seelig said.

Sarah Strong, the coordinator for this event, said students should go to the workshop to change their perspective about their career path. She hopes students will be encouraged to think “outside the box.”

“It took me a long time to figure out that… I can chart my own course and come up with something completely new, completely different, something that no one ever thought of, that works just as well,” said Strong, University Advancement’s stewardship specialist.

Doug Wall, an entrepreneur who formed the idea for this workshop, was on campus this past April for a smaller 100-person workshop with the same objectives. After talking with Seelig and after his children enrolled at PLNU, he decided to help with this year’s workshop.

“Being an entrepreneur, it’s more than a job, it’s a career. It’s an opportunity to create a legacy for yourself, to build up and create wealth for others and to give generously to the kingdom of God.”

Wall served over 3,000 companies in his financial services business in 1985. He spent a couple of years at Ernst and Young and RCG Management. He is a cofounder of Genea Energy and PureForge. After retiring, he spent a couple years helping nonprofits like San Diego Rescue Mission and Opportunity International overseas in churches and orphanages. Wall has been awarded various awards for business and entrepreneurship.

Wall wants success stories to come out of PLNU like they do from Stanford and other colleges, the birth places of major companies like Google, Microsoft or Facebook.

“Why not Point Loma? Why not? Look how many successful companies have come out of San Diego State and they’re secular,” Wall said. “God is the one who gives us revelation to innovate. We’re not inventors. We’re the discoverers of God’s inventions. God’s the only creator. We just get to discover his creation and it’s awesome. And that’s why I’m doing it is, really, to pass on some gifts that God’s given me and hopefully encourage others.”

University Advancement hopes to work with OSV and the Fermanian Business Center for future workshops.

Students can register for the workshop at http://www.pointloma.edu/life/giving/innovation-inspiration-workshop by October 3 to participate or contact Sarah Strong at sarahstrong@pointloma.edu

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