By Mika Rekai - Monday, November 12, 2012 - 0 Comments
An adrenalin junkie who travelled the world in search of adventure, he had returned to university to finish his final year
Gareth Aled Coombes was born in Winnipeg on May 18, 1989, to Vanessa Coombes, an administrative assistant with the provincial government and a single mom. The night he was born, Jan Wiebe, one of Vanessa’s best friends, remembers sneaking into the hospital after visiting hours to meet the baby. She and Vanessa spent the whole night grinning, giving Gareth kisses and counting his toes.
When Gareth was two, he and his mother moved to Victoria, so Vanessa could care for her elderly mother, whom Gareth called “Nainey.” Vanessa loved taking Gareth to nearby beaches, where they searched for curly moon shells or, after nightfall, watched the stars. When Gareth started kindergarten, Vanessa would take his classmates to beaches too, forging friendships with the other moms as Gareth and his pals climbed up on rocks and splashed in the water.
Gareth, a mischievous boy with a “big, toothy grin,” made friends easily, says Jan. From a young age, he was passionate about space. He knew the names of dozens of stars and dreamed of becoming an astronaut. As a boy, he’d have his mother measure him often to make sure he didn’t exceed NASA’s maximum allowable height for astronaut candidates: six foot four. When he hit six foot five, he was forced to work out a new plan: he would become a successful businessman and travel to space as a tourist. Continue…
By Chris Sorensen - Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 7:10 PM - 0 Comments
Business schools are rethinking what and how they teach their students
Peter Thiel’s career is the stuff of business legend. He co-founded PayPal and was the first outside investor in Facebook, paying future CEO Mark Zuckerberg $500,000 for 10 per cent of the company back in 2004. When the social networking giant held its IPO earlier this year, Thiel took home $640 million after selling off part of his stake. Since then, Facebook shares have lost half their value, but Thiel still managed to recently pocket $400 million after a regulatory lock-up agreement for insiders expired. In other words, while just about everyone else lost money on Facebook shares, Thiel made out like a bandit. It pays to get in first.
Thiel’s extraordinary vision and willingness to go against the grain—he also bet against the U.S. housing market prior to 2008—are qualities many business school students no doubt hope to emulate. However, they may be disheartened to learn Thiel isn’t a big fan of M.B.A.s, or any post-secondary education, for that matter. Ever the contrarian, he argues we’re now in the midst of an “education bubble.” Students, he says, are throwing away their money on university when they could be using the cash to start new companies and develop new technologies. His controversial 20 Under 20 program in the U.S. pays 20 university students $100,000 each to drop out of school and focus on building the next Apple or Google. “Rather than just studying, you’re doing,” the Thiel Fellowship’s website tantalizingly promises.
Some incensed academics have pointed out that Thiel himself holds two degrees, in philosophy and law from Stanford University, and he taught a class there last spring. Plus, not everyone can expect to become the next Steve Jobs. But others say he has a point. “Business schools are way overdue for a wake-up call,” says Mihnea Moldoveanu, the associate dean for the M.B.A. program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management—one of several Canadian schools that’s rethinking the traditional M.B.A. approach. “And for reasons that go way beyond what Thiel talks about.”