July 10, 2008
Five years after graduating from Indiana State University's College of Business, Ben Lenderman wants more, and he's already proven he's up for a challenge.
But the West Terre Haute native thinks his true calling lies in teaching and has set his sights on a career as a college professor - maybe even eventually a university president.
Toward that end he applied earlier this year to graduate schools at Harvard and Stanford universities and was accepted at both. Opting for Stanford, Lenderman and his wife Jevy will leave Indiana - and a position with Eli Lilly & Co. as a successful pharmaceutical sales specialist. This fall he will begin working towards master's degrees in business administration and education.
Multiple degrees are nothing new for Lenderman. In 2003, he graduated from Indiana State with three bachelor's degrees -- in management, finance and business administration -- and had a 4.0 grade point average. He was also a member of the Sycamore football team.
Lenderman chose Stanford not because of its location in Palo Alto, Calif. but because of what he describes as a "very collaborative, close-knit community," its high selectivity rate, and a commitment to social responsibility.
"They're very interested in environmental issues, which are close to me since I grew up on a farm. They're also interested in how businesses can improve work standards in other countries and still be profitable," he said.
And Stanford shares some important values with Indiana State, including a commitment to "giving back," added the fourth-generation ISU alumnus. Given his career goals, Lenderman doesn't intend to stop after completing dual master's degrees. He has plans to pursue a Ph.D. with a focus on leadership. His research goals are timely and in line with his interest in protecting the environment.
"My research interests are in alternative energy mechanisms, including cellulosic ethanol technology," he said. "I'm interested in how different styles of leadership are incorporated and which leadership styles survive and which ones don't. Anytime you have a fledgling industry, there is bound to be one system that works and one system that is not as successful."
As a former Sycamore football player, Lenderman also understands the importance of teamwork -- even more so, he says, as the result of a memorable team building exercise in the ISU College of Business.
The exercise had students line up in pairs, standing face to face with a line on the floor about three feet behind each person. The goal of the exercise was to see how many times students could get the person opposite them across the line on the floor.
"Being the inside linebacker that I was, I looked at this little skinny guy in front of me and said, 'Oh, I've got this,' so I kept pushing him across the line and thought, 'This is easy.'"
But when the winners were announced, the linebacker came up short. The winning duo worked as a team and willingly backed up across the line. The moral of the story, of course, was that teams perform better than individuals.
"That was definitely something that I took to heart and I think that's been a big part of my success in general because I've had to work in sales teams," Lenderman said, adding that his lessons about teamwork should serve him well at Stanford, given its reputation for collaboration.
Lenderman said there are many ways the ISU College of Business prepared him well for success in the business world and, now, in graduate school, including "good access to professors and the ability to make your degree exactly what you want it to be. You get a good education at ISU."
He lists Max Douglas, professor of management, and Aruna Chandra, associate professor of management, among his most influential professors while at Indiana State.
Chandra describes her Stanford-bound former student as "exceptionally motivated, bright and eager to learn. He never missed classes, always came prepared and most importantly, he contributed intelligently. I am very glad his hard work is paying off."
Just how well Lenderman's hard work ultimately pays off remains to be seen, but his positive attitude may go a long way toward helping him reach his goals.
"I think you really can achieve whatever you make up your mind to do," he said. "If you work toward something and you have a good plan and a passion for it, you're likely to be successful."
Photo: Ben Lenderman
Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ISU College of Business graduate Ben Lenderman has his sites set on a career combining business with education. To continue his pursuit of those goals, he'll be continuing his education this fall at the Stanford Graduate School of Business in Palo Alto, Calif.