Business entrepreneurship grad fuses interests in business, creativity
Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2021 graduates.
Brad Biehl chose Arizona State University because of a program that offered a practical business background infused with creativity, autonomy and self-exploration.
While in high school in Columbus, Ohio, he noticed that so many of the smart people that he looked up to were doing something entirely different — or at least seemingly not directly connected — to what it was they went to school for. It was clear to him that the big decisions made while still so young and naive often lead to iterations, shifts and changes-of-mind. With this in mind, he wanted to study something in school that was built both durable and flexible enough to withstand inevitable curiosity and growth, and he saw that opportunity here at ASU.
This May, he is receiving his bachelor's degree in business entrepreneurship through the W. P. Carey School of Business. During his time at ASU, he received a Dean's Scholarship. He served as a Entrepreneurship Catalyst for the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute, where he guided students interested in entrepreneurship at ASU on navigating opportunities and resources.
Students in the business entrepreneurship program are challenged to see opportunities, take action, ignite change and make an impact. For Biehl, it sparked an interest in building a foundation of curiosity and cultivating a community inside and outside the classroom. Learn more about Biehl in the Q&A below.
Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
Answer: It has become very apparent to me that nearly everything in this life has a connective link, and that deep generalism is extremely valuable. The ability to compare and contrast thoughts from varied sectors, classes and readings is a mental state that is worthy of continued work. At ASU, I often found subject matters from different courses converging, and then relating to external sources as well.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: Ultimately, I wanted to be in an ecosystem that was going to send me off with more questions, rather than answers. Everything from the charter of inclusivity, to the emphasis on taking pride in where the school is headed rather than where it has been, and the sheer immensity of people and possibility that such a large and internationally reaching school offers were all intriguing to me.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: Professor Eddie Davila, who taught my supply chain management course, was both my favorite professor at ASU, and the one who taught the most important lesson. The lesson wasn’t even an academic one, but rather a wonderful exemplification of how to carry out your work in the most effective of ways.
Regardless of day, lesson or circumstance, Professor Davila showed up to class everyday with the same level of contagious energy. It is rare to be in the presence of a person who is so great at doing what they do. The class was very fast paced, yet Professor Davila was so strong in his communication that everything was still very clear. His course was the definition of engaging. There are certain people in your life that are just admirable for the job that they continuously do, and the balance that they have somehow mastered.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: I would encourage folks to supplement and complement their classroom learnings with learnings from external sources — both within the ASU community, but also beyond. Whether it be mere casual conversations with those smarter than you, or structured internships with groups whose work you admire, there is immense benefit in defining for yourself what it means to be a student. Establishing a synergy between your course curriculum and your own proactive learning is a beautiful thing.
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?
A: For context, I work outside every single day. I have about five different spots around campus that I frequent and alternate throughout the day, usually. If I had to pick one, I’d say back behind the Interdisciplinary A building on the Tempe campus. Because of the way that the buildings and trees are positioned, the tables are almost always in the shade. The area is garnished with lots of greenery too. The best part is that it is slightly out of the way from the main campus walkways, making it a great quiet study spot.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I’m headed on to get my master's of city and regional planning at The Ohio State University, in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: I’d put it towards more equitable transportation solutions in our urban areas. In particular, the implementation and emboldening of bike infrastructure. The license to simply move throughout a community shouldn’t be a right reserved for just those with the means of owning and operating an automobile. We also shouldn’t be prioritizing or heavily relying on a mode of transit (in the car) that is both so inefficient, detrimental to future growth and development of cities, and dangerous for our citizens and planet.