Christian Felzensztein: Driving Innovation & Entrepreneurship in Technological Education and Research

Christian Felzensztein
Christian Felzensztein

Visionary leaders think beyond the horizon and are responsible for drawing waves of transformation in society. These industry leaders are inventive, futuristic, and open to new ideas, perspectives, and solutions. They clearly express their ideas and are good listeners, allowing them to make the best decisions possible with the given information. Passionate about their professions, these experts understand their team’s needs and establish a strong bond of trust and respect among them. They demonstrate honesty in all aspects and serve as guiding lights in the dark.

Christian Felzensztein is an accomplished and global-minded personality in the world of entrepreneurship and technological education. He has earned his part of success with hard work, determination, optimism, and a vision to cater to positive transformations in the world of education.

He is the Reh Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurial Leadership & Academic Director of the Reh Center for Entrepreneurship, Clarkson University, with 25 years of extensive business, visionary strategic leadership, research, and consultancy experience in five continents, including building and leading global entrepreneurship centers and graduate education, international strategic partnerships, and working with startups in diverse cultural contexts.

Christian is a first-generation college graduate and Hispanic immigrant to the United States who acknowledges the value of higher education, diversity, inclusion, and social justice. He has actively formed, grown, and partnered with ethnically diverse teams worldwide throughout his career. His research on small business entrepreneurship or strategy is distinguished by its global viewpoint, multicultural approach, and multidisciplinary nature, making it highly relevant and influential for managers and policymakers.

Honing Tech-Skills 

Clarkson University is a pioneer in providing the best technological education, research, and innovation. This prestigious educational marvel believes in sustainable economic development. Established in 1896, it is a private, national research university in upstate New York known for offering its students a great return on investment. The institute ignites interdisciplinary collaboration, entrepreneurship, innovative research, and unparalleled technological -STEM-focused- education.

Paddling through the Challenges

Christian steers the center, which is the national leader in entrepreneurship and innovation within a STEM-focused research institution. As a global academic leader in entrepreneurship, the holder of the Reh Endowed Chair in Entrepreneurial Leadership, and Co-director of the Reh Centre for Entrepreneurship, Christian and his team faced the challenges of staying up-to-date with the latest entrepreneurship and management knowledge that is relevant and practically useful for their different audiences and diverse constituencies, including policymakers, practicing managers/CEOs, and the global society in general.   

According to Christian, teamwork is essential for effectively contributing to the resolution of significant issues of his time. No one can do it alone. So, being a national and international multidisciplinary research team member is essential—the same as getting in touch with the users of their helpful expertise.

Holding the Team Together

Innovation and creativity are essential for bringing teams together. According to Christian, Clarkson University has a well-known entrepreneurial ecosystem led by great colleagues that includes the Shipley Centre for Innovation, Clarkson IGNITE, and the Reh Centre for Entrepreneurship, all of which have a positive impact on the institution’s students and society by providing practical and sound teaching, research, and outreach activities to help solve the world’s pressing problems and transform them into entrepreneurial opportunities.

Christian says, “In this multidisciplinary manner, we deliver diverse programs and useful research that offer the opportunity to reflect critically on how students lead their start-ups from the first year at Clarkson.” At the Reh Center for Entrepreneurship, Christian, along with his team, focuses their efforts on what entrepreneurial leadership means to each of their students, who, in the end, will be successful entrepreneurs and business leaders.

They also offer First-Year Business Experience to the students. This program defines the first year of studies for business majors and is a prime example of Clarkson’s commitment to experiential learning. Here, students work in teams to conceptualize their company, develop a business plan, and pitch it to seasoned investors. Over $50,000 is awarded annually to turn the first-year student projects into actual businesses. Then, they continue doing so and innovating during the advanced curriculum over their time at Clarkson’s David Reh School of Business, and then in its flagship MBA program.

Christian is a team player who believes that while individuals can achieve success on multiple occasions, true success is determined by the collective efforts. This involves collaboration with all aspects of Clarkson’s entrepreneurship environment. He goes on to state, “This requires collaborative, entrepreneurial leadership, as no one is a silo in today’s competitive world.”

Incorporation of Technology

Technology and sustainability are key interdisciplinary words at Clarkson and in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. For example, regarding entrepreneurship research, Christian and his team are working on a project on start-up scaling-up strategies in Upstate New York. The results of this new research will help new high-tech companies and their spillovers (e.g., customers, suppliers, small firms) investing in New York State to get further managerial information on how start-ups are dealing with scaling-up or de-scaling up strategies in a region that is located at the geographical periphery bordering with Ontario in Canada.

The results will help shape the new regional entrepreneurship policies for making the most of new start-up creation in this region. They also have some projects on how entrepreneurship can help to solve poverty in Latin America, the Caribbean and diverse countries in Africa, while contributing with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNDSG) for ending poverty. These are just some examples of what they are doing on entrepreneurship research with societal impact at the Reh Center for Entrepreneurship at Clarkson.

A Defining Career Moment

In Christian’s remarkable career, every single international experience has given him some challenges and momentum in his professional and personal career. Starting with a more personal one: since he was a child who had to work hard for his own education and financial means while growing up in South America, he has always sincerely appreciated the profound intrinsic value and importance of higher education in advancing people’s lives and doing good for society. He was successful as an early small-scale entrepreneur, but also an outstanding student that won the competitive President of the Republic of Chile Scholarship to complete his Masters’ and Ph.D. doctoral studies at the top-ranked University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland.

He then married a talented Cuban-born visual artist, which enriched his understanding of diversity and inclusion and fueled an even greater passion for social justice and access to educational opportunities for a broader range of young people around the world.

This vision, passion, and devotion grew even stronger after Christian and his young family immigrated to the United States, as he recognized the importance immigrants bring to this beautiful country. However, he believes that new immigrants and minorities must work harder to take advantage of this hospitable country’s benefits. In this way, new and more people will be able to give back in a more entrepreneurial sense to the government, institutions and regions that Christian and his family considered now their home.

Christian says from Upstate New York, “Our excellence, commitment to sustainability, and STEM-focused strategy are in everything we do.” He and his team are highly focused and put equal effort into all its projects and initiatives involving research partners around the world.

Importance of Team Building

Christian is an advocate of multidisciplinary expertise in building and leading global teams. Aside from having a clear, engaging, and motivating vision, he and his team’s work in sustainability and entrepreneurship at Clarkson exemplifies this interdisciplinary knowledge, as they actively share their experiences, research and expertise throughout the university.

This is how they generate new ideas to benefit students and make discoveries (applied research) that benefit society. Building and leading a team today requires more open collaboration than ever before, as people collaborate in ideas with a human touch, something than robots, and technology will not replace it. Technology is a tool and medium, not the end of engagement and team building.

Igniting Young Minds
Visionary leaders like Christian embody entrepreneurship and innovation, motivating individuals to push boundaries and pursue excellence. Their sharp ideas and determination cater to positive change, establishing a culture of growth and advancement. Their journeys guide others in times of adversity or through the highs and lows.

Christian always advises his students to follow their passion; he firmly believes that without passion, there is no meaning to a well-lived life. Entrepreneurship needs positive, inspirational leadership, while leadership needs people with passion.

He aspires to continue creating better opportunities for the students at Clarkson University and encourage multidisciplinary discoveries that benefit society. This is his commitment, and he feels fortunate to have the chance to contribute to a great institution and team that works very hard to make the place and world a little bit better every day. He feels lucky to have the opportunity to live, raise a family, and work in this great country, and he calls it his new home, his new place on earth, after living in diverse cultural contexts.

Success is believed to be the consequence of sweat on one’s brow, sleepless nights, and innumerable attempts to acquire a position that allows for gradual transformation. Christian Felzensztein’s journey exemplifies hard work, perfection, and constant efforts to improve the educational environment and regions where he is located. He is a team player who believes in improvement for all and genuinely cares about his teammates and students. He has achieved incredible success in the field of education.

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