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John Bers

John Bers

Adjoint Professor of Engineering Management, Vanderbilt University


Email thewondry@vanderbilt.edu to schedule a meeting with John Bers.

Teaching concentration – technology strategy, policy, and marketing; enterprise systems design, business model development
Guided over 400 student teams developing marketing strategies and business processes for technology startups, growing businesses, and global corporations. Member of the Management of Technology faculty, National Technological University
Contributing scholar, Laureate, Inc., developed their technology marketing course for electronic delivery around the world.
Lead author of 20 papers in refereed journals and national and international conference proceedings.
Twenty-year career in strategic marketing and business development for Northern Telecom Inc., the Gas Research Institute; active consulting practice with clients in North America and Europe in health care innovation, information technology, education, and telecommunications.

Q. What excites you most about the Wond’ry?

A. I have been looking for a place – a real physical space on campus – where the Vanderbilt community could turn their ideas into businesses, and so have an impact on the larger world. I also wanted an easy way for our incredibly dynamic Middle TN tech community to break through and tap into all the talent at Vanderbilt. The Wond’ry is the fulfillment of my dreams. I am so fortunate to be here just as the Wond’ry has gotten off the ground.

Q. What do you feel are the most important skills you have to offer in your role as a mentor?

  • Thinking through business strategy for new technologies
  • Connecting with customers and their real needs (marketing)
  • Figuring out how to execute strategies (usually a lot tougher can coming up with them in the first place!)
  • Figuring out how to create value – for customers and investors.

Q. What has been your proudest moment in your career?

A. Seeing the lights go on when a student project team figures out how to turn their project into a success (has happened many times over my years at Vanderbilt).

Q. What has surprised you most about your job?

A. How smart my students are (and they just keep getting smarter!) Everything that I know of value I’ve learned through mentoring over 400 student teams engaging with project clients in industry.

Q.If you could do everything over again, would you make the same career choices

A. I think I made two smart career choices. First, to experience the world of business development for 23 years (in two exploding industries – telecommunications and energy), and second, to get a chance to make what I learned available to my students over the past 25 years at Vanderbilt.

Q. In your opinion, what is the most important quality for success?

A. That’s an easy one – it’s persistence. So many people give up too quickly. Believe in yourself.

Q. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A. I’ve always wanted to understand how things worked. That’s what scientists do for a living, so I thought I wanted to be a scientist. What I didn’t know is that you don’t have to be a scientist to ask what makes things tick (and after all, there aren’t that many jobs out there for scientists). There are so many other interesting mysteries out there to solve. My favorite one is – what makes a business work? And if you can figure it out, you have this great feeling of mastery and accomplishment, and you’ve maybe done something for someone else.

Office Hours:  By appointment only, Wednesday afternoons

Areas of Expertise: Finance, Healthcare, Marketing, Operations, Presentation, Technology