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Name Inge Milde
Faculty Position Director of Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies, Senior Lecturer
Areas of Expertise Entrepreneurship, Business Planning
Education Master of Business Administration, Babson College; Bachelor of Fine Arts, Museum of Fine Arts; Bachelor of Science, Tufts University
We sat down with Gordon Institute faculty member Inge Milde to discuss her unique educational background, her entrepreneurial adventure, what inspires her teaching at the Gordon Institute’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program, and to learn what “a couture line of conversational jewelry” is.

Part of what makes Milde so unique is her unconventional education background. A double Jumbo, Milde graduated from Tufts with a B.S. in Biology and a B.F.A. from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Her seemingly disparate interests were brought together in the working world right away; Milde worked at Mass Eye and Ear during school doing medical video and photography work for diagnostic and educational purposes. After that, Milde worked as a media specialist with Orbis International. On board for “a year that turned into two,” Milde spent her time “essentially running a live television station” on a DC-10 medical plane that was flying around the world.

When Milde returned to the U.S. from Orbis, she decided to start her own agency to represent advertising photographers despite her lack of entrepreneurial experience. “It wasn’t until I started my own business,” she reflected, “that I thought, wow, this is fascinating. I started reading every business book I could get my hands on and I started thinking about graduate education, probably because I wanted to teach at some point.”

With her agency up and running, Milde entered the fast track MBA program at Babson. Being a student and running a company “was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” Milde recalled, “but it was absolutely worth it.”

At Babson, Milde was introduced to the consulting firm, Creative Realities. After her MBA, she put her agency on hold and joined Creative Realities, where she worked in “innovation management.” This entailed facilitating intensive brainstorming sessions, market research and developing new products and services; experiences and skills that she brings into her classroom. “I wish I could bring even more of that process to my students,” said Milde, “and I’m trying to do that bit by bit, because knowing how to ideate [is important] and I want to create an environment for the students that is supportive of crazy ideas.”

In reflecting on the Entrepreneurial Leadership program and Tufts as a whole, Milde marveled at the strength and vibrancy of the academic community. In her experience, “community is so important…as both an entrepreneur and an artist, to keep the inspiration going.” Undergrads need to find communities to stay inspired after graduation, Milde noted, and the Boston start-up scene offers countless meet-ups and workshops that can provide a creative, inspiring community atmosphere.

Teaching at the Gordon Institute has provided Milde with a remarkable community of both teachers and students. As she observed, “teaching, for me, is one of the communities that I find very inspiring. I probably get as much from teaching as the students get from learning, and you’ll hear that from the professors, especially in entrepreneurship.”

In the ELS courses she has taught, Milde has seen a strong mix of students from all academic backgrounds. “It’s fantastic that the Gordon Institute has been so inclusive in its ELS program, and that the engineering students are working with the liberal arts students and vice versa,” Milde said. “I think it’s that kind of mixing of minds that helps to foster ongoing creative and innovative thinking.”

“I might goad my engineering students because sometimes they are used to things being right or wrong, it works or it doesn’t, but I’m noticing that with the younger engineers that there’s more freedom in thinking, more creativity and innovative thinking.”

Outside of Tufts, Milde is currently developing a new venture that draws on her artistic skills. Entitled Von Milde, she is designing and creating a “conversational line of couture jewelry.” Milde has recently begun production of pieces that are hand-made, one-of-a-kind, and “inspired by things you find in nature, or a cell biology book.” The business idea “has been percolating for a couple of years,” Milde told us. “I’m self-funding at this point, looking for an investor or benefactor. It’s more art than it is commerce, but my skills and network are helping to keep it growing in its fledgling stages. For me, it’s what I’m very passionate about. I think about it all the time.”

Since 2011, Milde has been running the Gordon Institute’s $100k New Ventures Competition. This university-wide event attracts entries from alumni, faculty, undergraduate, and graduate students from all the colleges across the university. “Running the Tufts business plan competition [has] been really exciting. I enjoy matching up teams with alums and faculty mentors…and I really encourage everyone to enter the competition. Even if you don’t become a finalist, we have some great screeners—alumni who are VCs and successful entrepreneurs. [Entering and presenting to these individuals is] a great way to get feedback if you’re trying to launch something.”