Leading in Uncertainty: How an Entrepreneurial Mindset Can Overcome Challenges and Disruptions
An entrepreneurial mindset is not just for running a business, it’s a leadership quality that often defines success, progress and innovation. Thinking outside the box to confront disruption, challenges or simply the unknown is what America’s entrepreneurs – and business leaders – must do every day. Throughout her career Karen Mills has drawn on innovative and entrepreneurial approaches to succeed at the highest levels of both business and government. When she joined the White House economic team at the height of the Great Recession, her bold actions helped save small businesses owners trapped by frozen credit markets. Karen’s unique experiences in Washington and as a venture capitalist offer practical and inspirational insights for leaders of any organization.
Where are the New Jobs? Optimism and Opportunity in America’s ‘New’ Economy
Americans should be optimistic about the opportunities available in the “new” economy. While the first two decades of the 21st century have been marked by tepid growth, a great recession and a slow recovery, bright spots are emerging that are driving the creation of good-paying jobs and economic opportunity. Economic forces are shifting and key players – including entrepreneurs and small supply chain companies – are proving their resilience through reinvention and innovation, supported by a growing movement of collaboration between government, philanthropy and business sectors. With unique perspective and insight gained from her successful leadership at the highest levels of both business and government, Karen Mills will share why she’s optimistic and believes this cross-sector collaboration may well define the 21st century economy.
In a Fintech Future, Who Will Be the Winners and Losers?
Fintech innovators are disrupting nearly every aspect of the financial sector. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the small business economy. While the loan application process at banks can take weeks, fintech startups are putting capital in the hands of small business owners within days, and even minutes. It's a classic David vs. Goliath story, with online startups taking market share from community banks and Wall Street giants alike. But the truth is, sometimes David wins, sometimes Goliath wins, and sometimes the right solution involves a combination of the two. From leading a $100 billion loan portfolio at the U.S. Small Business Administration to her seminal research at Harvard Business School, Karen Mills continues to have a front-row seat to how this dynamic and evolving financial sector is changing the landscape and opportunities for small businesses and our nation’s economy. In this highly-competitive space, Karen offers game-changing insights and analysis for convenings of community bankers, regional banking executives, internal bank leadership teams and fintechs.
The Small Business Playbook: Three Keys for Growth and Success
America’s community of more than 28 million small businesses is diverse. From manufacturing suppliers and distributors to Main Street shops and tech companies, they collectively drive job creation, innovation and our nation’s competitiveness. Quite simply, their success is America’s success. Yet, in this post-Great Recession economy the challenges facing small businesses can be numerous and daunting. Drawing on her success as a small business owner and investor, to her leadership at the U.S. Small Business Administration in Washington, Karen Mills has the playbook for helping small businesses successfully tackle the challenges head on. As you convene your suppliers, distributors, franchisees and members, let Karen share the Small Business Playbook for getting (1) the money, (2) the customers and (3) the skilled workforce to grow and succeed.
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Catch up on Karen Mills' latest media appearances:
Attention Banks: Programming Idea for regional events with your best small business customers
As the former head of the Small Business Administration (2009-2013), and as a vocal and active champion for small business and regional development, Karen Mills is an expert on issues affecting your best customers: pro-business deregulation, tax code changes, supply chain issues and, perhaps more importantly, access to capital. The difference, however, is that Mills is an authentic champion of small businesses as the true driver of the economy and savors the interaction with the audience in the Q&A that follows every keynote. That one-on-one feeling makes her appearance truly valuable for your clients. Banks approach us about securing Mills for a series of events, in each of their important regions, as a marketing event for prospective business customers, current customers and employees. She is impressive and motivating, and has worked on small business policy at the highest level.Learn more about Karen Mills' work on small business access to capital >>
Karen Mills Delivers Powerful “Leading in Uncertain Times” Lecture
Harvard Business School Senior Fellow and former Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration Karen Mills drew on her wealth of experience when she delivered a lecture at the famed “Lectures that Last” event. Addressing a packed house of students and faculty from all twelve of Harvard’s graduate and professional schools, Mills spoke about public entrepreneurship and ways for aspiring business leaders to simultaneously solve problems and promote social good. In her lecture, “Leading in Uncertain Times,” Mills empowered students to find a way to make a difference. “Find your values and find your balance, because it is up to each of you in your own way to be leaders in this demanding world,” Mills said. With years of experience working in the Obama administration, Mills is able to eloquently address both macro and micro issues when it comes to the economy and politics and has recently offered in-depth analysis on everything from fintech to how the new administration can help small business owners.Read Karen Mill’s full “Leading in Uncertain Times” Lecture >>
A Playbook for Innovation & Small Business Growth
An expert on national economic growth and competitiveness as well as helping small businesses thrive, KAREN MILLS recently spoke at Harvard's Ed Portal about the current state of access to bank loans for small businesses and the importance of building entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystems to grow the local economy. Mills offers important small business tactical insights such as access to capital, regional economic clusters, hiring skilled workers, boosting exports, and tapping into government and commercial supply chains. She was widely praised for doing this on a national level as chief administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration and member of President Obama's National Economic Council.Read more >>
Karen Mills explains how online lenders are disrupting small business lending
KAREN MILLS, chief administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration and member of the President's National Economic Council, shares her research findings for her Harvard Business School working paper, The State of Small Business Lending: Credit Access During the Recovery and How Technology May Change the Game, in an interview with Cascade, a publication of The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.Read More...
Read Karen Mills' latest column in Fortune.Read more...
"Today’s economy is driven by innovation, and when we talk about nations and their competitiveness, we are increasingly recognizing the importance of small businesses and entrepreneurs." - Karen MillsRead more...
Karen Gordon Mills served in President Barack Obama’s cabinet as the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration from 2009 until August 2013. She is currently a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Business School and at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School focusing on U.S. Competitiveness, entrepreneurship and innovation.
As SBA Administrator and a Cabinet member, Mills served on the President’s National Economic Council and was a key member of the White House economic team. At the SBA, she led a team of more than 3,000 employees and managed a loan guarantee portfolio of over $100 billion. Mills is credited with turning around the Agency, streamlining loan programs, shortening turnaround times, and reducing paperwork. These efforts resulted in record-breaking years for SBA lending and investments in growth capital. In addition, Mills helped small businesses create regional economic clusters, gain access to early stage capital, hire skilled workers, boost exports, and tap into government and commercial supply chains.
Prior to the SBA, Mills held leadership positions in the private sector, including as a partner in several private equity firms, and served on the boards of Scotts Miracle-Gro and Arrow Electronics. Most recently, she was president of MMP Group, which invested in businesses in consumer products, food, textiles, and industrial components. In 2007, Maine Governor John Baldacci appointed Mills to chair Maine’s Council on Competitiveness and the Economy, where she focused on regional development initiatives, including a regional economic cluster with Maine’s boatbuilding industry.
Mills earned an AB in economics from Harvard University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was a Baker Scholar. Additionally, she is a past vice chair of the Harvard Overseers, and is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Harvard Corporation.