Business leader and entrepreneur Mark Ranalli joined the Tufts Gordon Institute (TGI) as its new executive director, associate dean and professor of the practice earlier this month, replacing Robert Hannemann, former director of TGI and professor, who stepped down earlier this year after seven years.
As director of TGI, Ranalli said he will lead the institute by working on its curriculum and marketing.
“I run that program with a great team and faculty that has been here for many years,” he said. “We are working on setting vision and advancing the program.”
Ranalli explained that he is dedicated to TGI’s mission of helping to transform engineers into leaders.
“As businesses grow, responsibilities grow,” Ranalli said. “You are often promoting and maturing people along the way. I have a lot of attachment to the mission.”
As associate dean, Ranalli added that he will be looking to build a more inclusive strategy of entrepreneurship across Tufts.
“There are a lot of pockets of activity [at Tufts] — some student led, some done through the different schools and some done right here through TGI,” he said. “But putting an umbrella around it and creating a more holistic opportunity for both education and entrepreneurship, as well [as an alternative] path for student entrepreneurs that are not as interested in the classwork and are more interested in the brass tacks getting it done — looking for mentors, looking for resources,and looking for advice — all of that we are looking to build across one platform here.”
Ranalli will also teach undergraduates as part of the Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies program, which is part of TGI.
“I have an opportunity to provide some insight, mentoring and contacts,” he explained. “I enjoy that process. I am thrilled to see innovation happening at such a young age. I am really happy to provide them with whatever I can to help them move along smoothly.”
Associate Director of TGI Nancy Buczko, who was a member of the hiring committee for Ranalli, said she has been impressed with Ranalli during his time at TGI so far.
“It has only been a couple of weeks, but the characteristics that come to mind about working with him would be that he is outgoing, personable and has a lot of energy that he is bringing to the role,” she said. “He has taken the approach of gathering information, asking questions and wanting to understand at the deepest level.”
Ranalli is the type of candidate that TGI hoped to find, according to Buczko.
“He has many experiences in industry and in the corporate world … and several iterations of being a successful entrepreneur,” she said. “Someone who lives and breathes the world of startups and has been a successful entrepreneur is critical to being able to relate and deliver the best educational program. He himself knows how to grow a business and grow an organization.”
Ranalli has previously served in a number of roles, including managing director of RR Donnelley’s Digital Solutions Group, president and CEO of Helium Inc., co-founder and board member of OurStage and more.
After over 20 years of building businesses, Ranalli explained that he decided he was ready for a new stage in his life.
“I found myself at the point where I was kind of at the decision point between, ‘Do I go back and start one more business, do I retire or do I start the next chapter of my life?’” he said. “And the timing was perfect. Tufts was looking for someone to come in and fill this role, and I was looking to change what I was doing.”
Ranalli said he has enjoyed his time at Tufts so far.
“I am having a blast,” he said. “It is two weeks in, and I love the people — as I expected. I saw that during the interviewing process. It is a very engaged community, and that isn’t easy to come by. That does’t exist all over the world.”