Not Business as Usual

Tufts Now All Stories

Jack Derby, long-time professor of the practice in entrepreneurial marketing and sales, understands what makes some businesses tick with the precision of a Swiss watch and why even the most earnest startups often fail. As the former CEO of multiple companies, including several startups, he has forty-plus years’ experience running businesses and honing management strategies.For a decade now, that know-how and Derby’s visible love of teaching has drawn students to his courses in the Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies Program at the Gordon Institute. (He was recently appointed director of the program.) In his classes, student teams are expected to deliver marketing and sales plans for real-world clients, which have ranged from big-league medical device and chemical manufacturers to granola and medical device start-ups. Derby notes that “the diversity of companies, markets and size is critically important to the entrepreneurial learning process.”
When these semester-long projects are delivered, “the clients provide 50 percent of the grade, and I provide the other 50 percent,” said Derby. “Tufts uses the word ‘student-athlete’—I use the word ‘student-consultant.’” 
Now Derby is looking ahead to even more opportunities to work with students as the new holder of the Cummings Family Professorship in Entrepreneurship at the School of Engineering.
Mark Ranalli, associate dean and executive director of the Gordon Institute, said Derby brings not only a deep knowledge of the business world but also a passion for teaching—students voted him the “best engineering teacher of the year” in 2015 with the Henry & Madeline Fischer Award.
“Jack was recruited for a reason,” Ranalli said. “Our objective is to create something more exciting here at Tufts. Jack has an indefatigable passion for students and student outcomes and one of the best marketing minds that I’ve had the pleasure of working with.”
William S. Cummings, A52, H06, J97P, M97P, trustee emeritus and founder of Cummings Properties, said, “ …

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