An accomplished faculty member who has worked and studied at top institutions around the world, Isil Yavuz, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship, brings her unique perspective to developing innovative undergraduate programs.
“Our graduates need to be problem solvers and innovators. That’s how you create value, whether you’re creating a new business or working in another context.”
Yavuz joined Bryant in August 2019 after previously serving as Assistant Professor at Ozyegin University in Istanbul, Turkey, where she taught international business and entrepreneurship at undergraduate and graduate levels for eight years. She is an angel investor with Rising Tide, a financial network of over 160 women across five continents whose aim is to increase women’s participation in angel investing as an asset class, including through building an investment portfolio in start-ups offering a financial return and a positive social impact. The Rising Tide fund, organized by Next Wave Impact and now worth over 1 million euro, is the first of its kind and has been featured in Forbes.
An award-winning researcher, Yavuz was also a mentor at InoSuit-Innovation-Focused Mentorship Project in cooperation with Turkish Exporters Assembly. The project pairs experts from academia with companies where, as mentors, they help design and implement tailor-made corporate innovation systems.
“University-level teaching is not about answers, but rather about promoting an analytical way of thinking. Answers change, leaving those relying on them stranded, while those who think prevail.”
New leadership for the Entrepreneurship Program
Yavuz recently assumed the role of Director of the Entrepreneurship Program. In the program, which is competitive with those of larger universities, students benefit from real-world learning, faculty who are mentors, and a close-knit community. Yavuz, with her global perspective and in-depth expertise in entrepreneurship, seeks to build on the program’s strengths and real-world preparation.
She especially appreciates Bryant’s high-touch environment and the University’s focus on helping students grow personally and professionally so they become well-rounded graduates. She's reviewing what changes may be needed to iterate and adapt the program so that it continues to create change makers who are in high demand. “Our graduates need to be problem solvers and innovators. That is how you create value, whether you are creating a new business or working in an established company. And that is why more and more companies are looking for entrepreneurial thinkers,” said Yavuz.
“You can find the entrepreneurial spirit all over Bryant, not just the Entrepreneurship Program.”
A dedicated educator, Yavuz enjoys teaching Bryant students, whom she considers entrepreneurial and determined. “Students have created businesses while they’re here, and there are many family businesses among the student body,” she says. They stretch their entrepreneurial muscles in a range of student organizations supported by the Entrepreneurship Program, such as Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization, which in 2020 won the Global Chapter of the Year award, and student startup accelerator Bryant Ventures. Students in a range of majors participate in these student organizations, she said; “You can find the entrepreneurial spirit all over Bryant, not just the Entrepreneurship Program."
Her teaching style reflects her goal of creating strong problem solvers and analytical thinkers. During class discussions, she opts to ask provocative questions rather than give solutions. “I feel strongly that university-level teaching is not about answers, but rather about promoting an analytical way of thinking. Answers change, leaving those relying on them stranded, while those who think prevail.” So closely held is this belief that it played a role in why she chose Bryant: “I was attracted to Bryant because [...] they are fully committed to creating a positive atmosphere of trust and respect where students are partners in the knowledge discovery process and not a consumer of information.”
Yavuz received her doctorate in business administration at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She is the author of The Outsider Entrepreneurs, a book based on her dissertation on immigrant entrepreneurs; the dissertation received a Dissertation Fellowship Award and a KFS Best Dissertation Award from the Kauffman Foundation. She has published in top academic entrepreneurship journals including Journal of Business Venturing and Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice. Her research interests include early internationalization and innovation in new ventures, immigrant entrepreneurship, and new business creation in established companies. She holds an M.S. in social psychology and a B.S. in business administration from Middle East Technical University in Turkey.