Mentorship

Mentorship

Entrepreneurs-in-Residence

The Entrepreneur-in-Residence program provides mentorship and coaching to University of Chicago students. Successful Chicago-based entrepreneurs are available to meet throughout the academic year, and have provided key insight and mentorship to dozens of companies. We also host regular small group sessions and workshops with the EIRs over breakfast and lunch.

To request an appointment with one of our EIRs or IIRs, please complete this form and they will be in touch to schedule a meeting.

Noura F.K. Abdullah, MBA ’08 (EXP-13)

Noura F.K. Abdullah, MBA ’08 (EXP-13)

Founder, Aura Living; Founder, Leem

Focus: Consumer-focused business, bricks & mortar retail and e-commerce
Program involvement: Coaching, judging, supporting GNVC and NVC candidates

Noura F.K. Abdullah, MBA ’08, is a successful serial entrepreneur and a dedicated supporter of aspiring entrepreneurs. She earned a bachelor of science in molecular genetics from Kings College in London and an MBA at the Chicago Booth. After spending several years in genetic research, she discovered her professional passion – furniture design. Seeing a large gap between the lower end budget-conscious brands and the high-end designer lines, Abdullah identified a market niche – blending the best of the West with Middle Eastern design elements to reach the middle-market consumer. In 2011, Abdullah founded Aura Living, a modern home fashion brand designed specifically for Middle Eastern shoppers, that combines international design styles and bespoke Aura-branded collections, providing modern collections to budget-conscious yet fashion-forward consumers. The company now has a chain of stores in Saudi Arabia and the UAE and has secured funding for growth in the Middle East and North Africa.

In 2018, Abdullah launched Leem, a company focused on redefining modest fashion for women. Taking inspiration from the latest runway trends to fit today’s modest woman, Leem stores have rapidly expanded throughout the Middle East with a total of seven retail stores, three concessions, and an international e-commerce platform.

Since 2011, Abdullah has served as a mentor and resource for business schools and investor associations in the United States. She has provided entrepreneurial coaching, judging, and support for MBA candidates participating in the Global New Venture Challenge at the University of Chicago. Abdullah has also delivered presentations on business development and innovation at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and presented at the Chicago Angels Network (CAN) pitch events.

Robert Altman, MBA ’88

Robert Altman, MBA ’88

Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship

Focus: Healthcare and biotech entrepreneurship
Program involvement: Collaboratorium, Student Lunch and Learns

Robert Altman, MBA ’88, has had a long career in executive roles for both mature and emerging biotech and pharmaceutical businesses. Most recently, Altman served as president of Pinnacle Biologics, a subsidiary of Concordia Healthcare. Altman also previously founded and built a fully-integrated specialty pharmaceutical company, Marathon Pharmaceuticals, and led the company as CEO and president from 2008 to 2012. Altman’s earlier career included numerous leadership positions over 17 years at Abbott Laboratories.

Mus Chagal, MBA '97

Mus Chagal, MBA '97

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship

Focus: Entrepreneurship, operations, manufacturing, supply chain & logistics, customer acquisition within 2-sided exchanges, and international business
Program involvement: New Venture Challenge, various accelerators, student lunch and learns

Mustafa “Mus” Chagal is a serial entrepreneur, faculty coach for New Venture Challenge (NVC), and entrepreneur-in-residence. Chagal has been a long-time judge-mentor for the NVC advising numerous early stage companies. 

Chagal is a senior advisor at Dentons, the world’s largest law firm with 15,000+ lawyers operating in 75+ countries with 180+ offices. 

Chagal was the acting CEO of UICO (2018-19) and the chairman of the board since 2013.  UICO is a venture backed company with proprietary technology that enables touchscreens to work when exposed to water, liquids, and through gloves. Chagal spent the majority of his career in international private label manufacturing (Turkey & Israel) and distribution of products & components for the industrial and building materials sectors in the USA – product design, prototyping, certifications, global manufacturing, supply chain optimization, logistics, merchandising, post sales-support.

Chagal started his entrepreneurial career in 1999 at FastWeb, a technology start-up. FastWeb became the destination site and search engine for college bound students looking for scholarships, and the prominent one-to-one marketing & customer acquisition platform for companies targeting the youth market (acquired by TMP Worldwide). After receiving his MBA from University of Chicago Booth, Chagal was recruited by Booz Allen & Hamilton and helped launch their office in Istanbul. Chagal joined the Ameritech Executive Development Program after college and held several senior corporate and operating positions with increasing responsibilities for a decade in the telecom sector. 

Chagal was born and raised in Cyprus and came to the USA on a Fulbright Scholarship in 1984. Chagal earned a BS in computing and information science and math from Roosevelt University, and an MBA from Chicago Booth. Chagal was admitted to the Lincoln Academy in 1988 as a Student Laureate. The Lincoln Academy elects several Laureates each year to the Order of Lincoln, the highest award given by the State of Illinois.

Mia Saini Duchnowski

Mia Saini Duchnowski

Fofounder and Board Member, Oars + Alps

Mia Saini Duchnowski is a journalist, engineer, investor, and a successful entrepreneur who sold her first VC-backed company, Oars + Alps, to SC Johnson. Currently, she serves as the cofounder and Board Member of Oars + Alps, a digitally native skin care brand for people who lead an active, on-the-go lifestyle. The products are made with naturally-derived, premium ingredients and are sold on Target and Amazon to name a few. The company launched in 2015 after Mia quit her high-profile job as a TV reporter/anchor with Bloomberg TV, one of the largest financial TV networks in the world.

Mia spent over three years with Bloomberg TV in Hong Kong and in New York City where she was responsible for global economic, political and business coverage. She was the first person at the network to interview the chairman of Microsoft, John Thompson, after he became chairman. She’s interviewed hundreds of CEOs and heads of states including the former CEO of Burberry, Angela Ahrendts, and Virgin founder, Sir Richard Branson. She’s routinely covered breaking news stories, such as the disappearance of MH 370, Nelson Mandela’s death, and Steve Job’s passing. 

Prior to joining Bloomberg in June 2011, Mia served as an anchor and reporter for Forbes TV. She reported from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland as well as interviewed prominent business leaders including Warren Buffett, former FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, Blackstone co-founder Pete Peterson, former Bear Stearns CEO Ace Greenberg, SAP CEO Bill McDermott and more. Earlier in her career, Mia was a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs, working in hedge fund sales and marketing. There, she helped establish strategic relationships with hedge funds representing over $1.2 billion in portfolio value.

Mia earned an MBA from the Harvard Business School. She earned a double major from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in neuroscience and media studies, and a double minor in civil engineering and management science. While at MIT, she interned at NASA Ames Research Center doing artificial intelligence research. She was featured in Glamour Magazine as one of their Top Ten College Women in 2004.

Mia was named as one of Crain’s Magazine 40 Under 40 in 2020 and was the emcee for the 2020 TedX Wrigleyville event. Currently, she sits on the Auxiliary Board of the Chicago Lincoln Park Zoo. Mia actively interviews high school seniors looking to study STEM subjects at MIT. She is also active in the Chicago startup ecosystem and enjoys mentoring students. She loves cycling and watching film noir movies and lives in Chicago with her husband and their five kids: Tabytha, Thiesson, Kempson, Aubrienna and Sienna.

Melissa Harris, MBA '16

Melissa Harris, MBA '16

Focus: Entrepreneurial marketing and communications
Program involvement: College New Venture Challenge, Global New Venture Challenge, and student seminars

Melissa Harris, MBA ’16, is founder and CEO of M. Harris & Co., a Chicago-based marketing consultancy. She formerly was an accomplished journalist who spent 15+ years at the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, and the Orlando Sentinel. Prior to launching her company, she served as vice president of marketing at a real estate private equity firm, helping it raise about $70 million. She has been named among the 50 most influential people in Chicago tech on Twitter by both Built In Chicago and Chicago Inno. She and her colleagues won a Clio Award for her work on Cards Against Humanity Saves America. In 2021, she began angel investing.

Alex Hodgkin, MBA '14

Alex Hodgkin, MBA '14

Senior Advisor for Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition

Focus: Entrepreneurship through Acquisition and financial services
Program involvement: ETA Conference, Search Fund Investor Summit, and student and alumni seminars

Alex Hodgkin, MBA ’14, has spent the bulk of his career in investment banking and entrepreneurship. He has worked at Salomon Smith Barney and Headwaters MB. He is the cofounder and CEO of Intrinsic, a financial services firm providing valuation opinions and transaction advisory services to venture- and private equity-backed companies and high net worth individuals. Hodgkin has been instrumental in creating the entrepreneurship through acquisition program and community at the University of Chicago.

Doug Monieson

Doug Monieson

Focus: Fintech and general entrepreneurship
Program involvement: College New Venture Challenge and student lunch and learns

Doug Monieson, MBA ’89, is currently CEO and executive chairman of UICO,  a rugged touch screen manufacturing company in Chicago.   UICO was founded at Chicago Booth in 2008 and is backed by PE and venture capital.  Monieson has successfully led two previous exits,  Fishidy which was acquired by RayMarine in 2018 and Gradebeam which was acquired by Textura in 2011.   

 

Ellen Rudnick, MBA '89

Ellen Rudnick, MBA '89

Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship and Senior Advisor

Focus: Entrepreneurship, Governance, UChicago Alumni
Program involvement: New Venture Challenge, Alumni New Venture Challenge, and alumni programs

Ellen Rudnick, MBA ’73, is a successful startup executive, having served as chairman of Pacific Biometrics and CEO of Health Care Knowledge Resources. She has held positions as corporate vice president at Baxter Healthcare and president of Baxter Management Services Division, which she founded. Her current board experience includes Liberty Mutual Insurance, Patterson Companies (NASDAQ: PDCO) and First Midwest Bancorp (NASDAQ: FMBI). She previously served as a director of (NASDAQ: HMSY) and Oxford Health.  She serves on the MATTER board of directors and on the 1871 Advisory Board.  She was formerly the inaugural executive director of the Polsky Center.

Jamie Shah, MBA '13

Jamie Shah, MBA '13

COO, The Spice House

Focus: Family Enterprise, Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition, Small Business Operations and Permanent Equity / Long Term Ownership
Program involvement: Student lunch and learns, Mentorship

Jamie Shah, MBA ’13, is currently the chief operating officer at The Spice House. Prior to The Spice House, Jamie spent eight years at her family’s business, Chem-Impex, running operations, customer service, and quality. She was also previously the lead associate at Hyde Park Angels and Hyde Park Venture Partners, and was selected as a Kauffman Fellows Finalist. She started her career at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker in the consumer retail group, and then was a financial analyst for Google Maps. Jamie earned a dual degree (BBA and BS) from The University of Wisconsin – Madison in finance, investments, and banking and Spanish literature and language, and an MBA from Chicago Booth.

Mark Tebbe

Mark Tebbe

Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Focus: Entrepreneurship and technology
Program involvement: New Venture Challenge, Social New Venture Challenge, College New Venture Challenge, and student lunch and learns

Mark Tebbe is the founder of several startups, including two NASDAQ-listed companies: Lante and Answers Corp. In addition to serving as an EIR at the Polsky Center and an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship, he is an operating executive at Lake Capital and involved in the Chicago entrepreneurial and tech ecosystem.

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