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Senior Profile: Mark Thompson, BBA '08

4/22/2008 --

Outstanding graduating BBA student Mark Thompson came to the University of Michigan to join the track and field team, but his entrepreneurial spirit drew him to the Ross School of Business.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—As a high school student, Mark Thompson was a track and field force to be reckoned with. He won the New York state triple jump twice and ranked in the top 10 in the nation by his senior year.

U-M recruited him for its track and field team, and it appeared he had a promising athletic career ahead of him.

But then fate stepped in when Thompson injured a hamstring, forcing him to rethink his collegiate plans, including his choice of academic major.

Motivated by his successful high school enterprise -- a video yearbook business that took his school by storm, netting him more than $10,000 in profits in one year alone -- Thompson decided to turn his attention to entrepreneurship and the Stephen M. Ross School of Business.

"The idea worked so well at my high school, I wanted to see if it would work at other high schools," he says. "I knew I had to take entrepreneur classes to see what a professor would think."

So Thompson applied to the BBA program in his sophomore year and took advantage of all it had to offer, especially the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. While in the program, he was able to pursue his business plan through entrepreneur-focused classes, as well as an independent study with Professor Len Middleton.

"Using the video yearbook idea I had in high school, I combined it with social networking capabilities and molded those ideas together to go on and compete in national business plan competitions," Thompson says.

Not only was he successful in those competitions, but Thompson's idea also won him the BBA Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Ross School.

When he wasn't busy competing with his business plan, Thompson immersed himself in everything that the University had to offer. He became a member of the business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi, vice president of the Couzens Active Multi-Ethnic Organization, a member of the Peers Utilizing Leadership Skills for Education, a peer advisor for the Michigan Community Scholars Program and a member of the Michigan Entrepreneur Club.

Self-improvement wasn't the only motivating factor in Thompson's involvement in so many activities. He also hoped to pave the way for others to be successful, as his peers had done for him.

"I think one thing I learned through my activities and the BBA program is that you have to realize that it's not about you, it's about the people who came before you and the people who are going to come after you," he says.

After graduation, Thompson will work at Lehman Brothers, an investment-banking firm, where he plans to learn more about finance while pursuing his original business idea of making video high school yearbooks available at schools across the country.

Written by Leah Sipher-Mann

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat, (734) 936-1015 or 647-1847, bernied@umich.edu