Making the Transition from Engineer to Entrepreneur

Date(s) - 09/17/2018
3:00 pm

Industry Speaker: Ivan Howard, M.B.A., M.S., Investment Officer, Hirtle, Callaghan & Co.

The University of Florida has produced some very impressive engineers that have gone on to create disruptive technology that was the basis for companies that created enormous value for investors. Some engineers have the ability to navigate the transition from engineer to entrepreneur while others fail to successfully launch and manage a business.

Engineers are known to be very precise individuals with an ability to process large amounts of data. Two highly valued strengths of engineers can actually become weaknesses when starting and managing a company. Intelligence and Precision. Engineers are highly intelligent and can become frustrated when others with whom they interact are not as knowledgeable about their subject (entrepreneurs need to be flexible and patient). Engineers also value precise solutions that sometimes may not be worth the effort, time, or money necessary to complete (entrepreneurs sometimes need to make quick decisions and can’t wait for precise solutions). Engineers also tend to devalue soft skills or visionary thinking. They may also resist change once on a given path—they want to finish something, even if it adds no more value.

Successful management of a company requires visionary thinking and a chameleon like ability to adapt to the various roles an entrepreneur must play.  A successful manager must have people and communication skills that are not often developed in graduate school. I will discuss the skills I feel an engineer needs to succeed as an entrepreneur as well as what to expect when raising capital and marketing your products.

Ivan Howard has over 20 years of Wall Street experience in Institutional Sales and Trading, Alternative Investments, and Wealth Management to Hirtle Callaghan. Most recently, Ivan served as Director of marketing and sales for the GreenHaven Continuous Commodity Index Fund while responsible for all fund distribution relationships, shareholder communication, and branch regulatory compliance. Ivan also served as Director of Operations for alternative investment partnerships comprised of farm land, timber reclamation, and livestock assets valued at over $100 million while responsible for setting, tracking, and reporting financial metrics to investors.

Prior to GreenHaven, Ivan founded ALT Advisory Services to provide customized alternative investment solutions and he has served as a registered investment advisor and portfolio manager. In partnership with another University of Florida alum, Dr Khalid Mentak, Ivan also started The Catalyst Tech Innovation Group (CTIG). CTIG is a silicon valley based medical technology accelerator. He is responsible for all financial and capital markets operations and coordinates all early stage project funding.

Previously, Ivan served as a Director of Institutional Sales and Trading with Merrill Lynch in San Francisco, CA for 11 years. He was a senior member of a client coverage team that executed block equity transactions for large fund managers and hedge funds generating over $30 MLN in annual production. Ivan coordinated and allocated syndicated multimillion dollar equity offerings working closely with capital markets professionals. He was responsible for all electronic trading platform innovation testing and implementation.

Ivan began his professional career as an Engineer with Union Carbide Corporation in the Unipol Polymers division for 5 years. He was responsible for the marketing and sale of polyethylene resins into various industrial and recycle content applications.

Ivan holds an MBA from Mercer University and Masters Degree in Material Science Engineering with emphasis in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Florida. His field of study was Radio Frequency Plasma surface modification of biopolymers used in intraocular lens applications. Ivan is a licensed securities representative holding FINRA Series 7, Series 63, and Series 31 licenses.  Ivan is an avid commercial cattle rancher and also shows cutting horses.