On November 9th at the Business College Complex at Michigan State University, Eli Broad spoke to students of The Eli Broad College of Business about his views on business, philanthropy, and the future of education. Eli Broad funded the The School of Business at Michigan State University, and has continued to support his alma mater throughout his life. Through his many different careers he gained a vast amount of knowledge in many aspects of business, helping to facilitate his long and successful run in the business world.

Born in the Bronx in 1933, Eli Broad grew up in Detroit and began his career in the accounting industry. He spoke about how beginning in the accounting industry was a good base because it opened up a lot of doors to other opportunities in different industries. After two years of accounting Broad decided he was ready to move on to something new, and went into business in the housing industry, trying to appeal to new Detroit home buyers in the suburbs. A risky business to enter, but a risk he was willing to take. A great quote from his dialogue was “The biggest risk is not taking any risk at all”. He achieved success in this industry, as the “tract housing” design became very popular.

His next risk taken was the acquisition of Sun Life Insurance Company of America, a small insurance company in Baltimore, for $52 million. A successful turn-around at Sun Life transformed it into SunAmerica and it was sold to AIG for $18 billion in 1999. Here was another example of Broad having confidence and taking a risk in order to achieve great success, but here the payout was gigantic. This event sparked the beginning of his approach to the philanthropic aspect of business.  He wanted to make sure education stayed strong during a time when doubts are arising in the academic industry, so he began to contribute to colleges along with K-12 education in order to raise the standard of education nationwide. His contributions to Michigan State include both The Eli Broad College of Business and the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum.

It's shown throughout his dialogue at Michigan State University and his book The Art of Being Unreasonable: Lessons in Unconventional Thinking, that in order to receive the greatest rewards, risks must be taken. Life without risks is a risk within itself, and to learn from one’s mistakes is the best lesson that can be taken from anything. Eli Broad’s dedication to his work transferred to his dedication to helping the surrounding communities, and in this way it makes him a very powerful and respected individual. He gave students a new perspective on how to approach their education and how to apply their education once released into the business world. Education needsto be taken seriously, because it is one’s success or failure in academia that decides their path into the business industry.

Share this article