From the Classroom to the Boardroom: The Rise of an ENTR Program Star

Zainah Nayef is a Purdue senior studying International Business and Marketing, and pursuing the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Certificate in Collaborative Leadership. Born in Michigan but growing up in Japan, Zainah has traveled to more than 30 countries, which inspired her to study international business. She is an extremely involved student on campus serving as the President of the Japan Students Association, as an executive in the Alpha Kappa Psi professional business fraternity, and has been a teaching assistant (TA) for MGMT 100 for nearly 4 years with David Randich and Kenneth Harling. She was also the former Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the Women in Business Club.

Picture Above: Zainah Nayef

Zainah will graduate in May 2023 and will begin working for PepsiCo in Sales Management. This semester, she is a TA, for ENTR 31000 Marketing and Management for New Ventures. She believes her experience as a TA was important in preparing her for job interviews, because one of her responsibilities was to observe trends that could be integrated into class presentations. The process of doing this prepared her to analyze sales patterns and arrive at recommendations, which made her an impressive candidate for recruiters. She says that recruiters hold Purdue’s Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in high regard because it makes candidates stand out in interviews. 

Zainah appreciates the effort that faculty and staff put into the Certificate program. Since students voluntarily choose to study entrepreneurship courses, the instructors put a lot of effort into making sure students get the most out of the program. She said her ENTR instructors, Mark Reiff, Greg Finch, Bob Paden and Angie Stocklin, are very supportive of students. She credits the program for helping her acquire skills such as networking and communicating with various stakeholders, which are essential for success in sales. The program also gave her insight into how to incorporate an entrepreneurial mindset into a diverse range of businesses, including healthcare, music, and fashion. 

In addition to her numerous campus roles, Zainah is also an ENTR Student Ambassador. She says this position has provided her with many opportunities, including being invited to two Presidential Lecture Series events and having dinner at the President’s residence. This allowed her to interact with influential figures like Mitch Daniels and Julie Wainwright, who inspire her. Being an ENTR Ambassador also enhanced her leadership skills through fielding student and parent questions, promoting the value of the program to prospective Purdue students, and providing feedback to the program. Zainah said she enjoys the increased involvement and recognition that comes with being an ENTR Ambassador. 

Zainah encourages more Boilermakers to enroll in the Certificate program. She advises them to listen to their instructors and fully absorb the information they offer. She adds that because the instructors are real-life entrepreneurs, they have seen hundreds of businesses. Given their experience, they have a good understanding of what works and what doesn’t which can help students succeed in the long run.