URI biz center could one day serve all state colleges
SEEING CLEAR: Katharine Hazard Flynn, executive director of the URI Business Engagement Center, says her time at EDC gave her a “wider lens” for viewing economic-development, business and finance opportunities.
Katharine Hazard Flynn has worked for the business community – specifically, the finance industry on Wall Street – and with the business community, through the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation. Now, in her new role as executive director of the University of Rhode Island’s Business Engagement Center, she is working for the university as well as for and with business and industry, seeking to connect employers with opportunities that “engage” URI’s resources, faculty and student body for mutual benefit.
While carving out this new niche, one that could extend future services well beyond the URI campus, Flynn continues to work in advancement for the university.
PBN: After working in the private sector at such companies as Prudential Bache and Societe General, what is it you like and appreciate about the way the business community works?
FLYNN: I like the way business leaders and businesses in general think because they tend to be looking forward. They are always looking for new and better ways to do whatever they do and they’re generally looking to innovate around their core competencies, at least the successful businesses do.
PBN: You worked seven years for the R.I. Economic Development Corporation. What did you learn when working with business leaders?
FLYNN: I had come from working on Wall Street, where most of the conversations were around finances and financing. What the EDC allowed me to do was open that lens so the discussion became more robust. I did a lot with helping businesses relocate. I learned a lot about lean manufacturing and helping businesses get more energy efficient. It taught me to look at a business more holistically. And when I meet with industry leaders now, I have a wider lens, so it’s not just about their balance sheets or their financial health.