By Kevin Webster, HSP program coordinator
“One of the best decisions of my life,” Aeron Glover said of his HSP experience at University of Tennessee. An alumnus of the 2008 Cohort and a 2012 Torchbearer, Glover highlighted the encouraging members of his cohort, supportive faculty and staff, and a plethora of opportunities as essential components of his personal and professional growth and development at UT.
Glover majored in industrial engineering and capitalized on his passion for startups and entrepreneurship as a member of the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in UT’s Haslam College of Business. Glover speaks to the values of the HSP pillars of integrity and diversity in reflecting on how his cohort influenced his current success:
“I was exposed to people from a lot of different backgrounds, and it really helped me discover how to communicate and influence people who are different than me.”
Glover’s time at UT was one of critical experiences and influential people. He interned at ExxonMobil and twice at Google—once after his junior year and once after his senior year. He also participated in summer programs at Harvard University and Tsinghua University in China. His passion for business led him to write his thesis on viral content and the college market of the websites Howstheliving.com and Ratemyprofessors.com, with advisement from Lee Martin, a professor in industrial and systems engineering and director of the Engineering Entrepreneurship program.
According to Glover, Martin was a great mentor who helped him with managing life and finding balance. Working on those areas while starting and managing a company is extremely important. Glover also attributes his success to former director of Honors and Scholars Programs Steve Dandaneau, who believed in his potential. “I was at a point in my life where I had a very narrow focus on what I wanted. I wanted to be involved in startup space, grow something, and manage it from end to end,” he said.
Glover currently works as a program manager at Google, where he manages an operations team that works on advertising products for some of Google’s most reputable clients. “Ninety percent of my team is located in India, and it really challenges me to be a more effective communicator. It is super important to understand how to identify and work with cultures and personalities separate from my own.”
According to Glover, his time in the Haslam Scholars Program took him out of his comfort zone, which prepared him for the type of communication he does today.
Interestingly, Glover’s passion for entrepreneurship did not begin at UT. As a high school student in Memphis, he started a business selling candy. As his business grew larger, he hired his first employees, opened concession stands at different schools, and eventually expanded to sporting events. Glover says his proclivity for entrepreneurship is a natural part of who he is. It was no surprise then that he and one of his colleagues, during their junior year at UT, were the recipients of a $25,000 award from a national business competition to begin a startup to help college students learn more about student housing around the world. Glover said that a study abroad trip to Spain, which required him to live with a host family, sparked the idea and that the culture and daily living experience there made a lasting impression on him: “I think the best ideas come from the most basic concerns in a person’s life. It does not have to be transformative to be impactful. As long as there are marginal improvements in your awareness, you can develop a smart idea.”
Soon after graduation, Glover attended the Startup Institute in Boston to cultivate his skills and harness his talents in the startup industry and tech field. He also accepted a job with one of the largest tech companies in the world: Google.
Exposure is a concept that is personally meaningful to Glover and one which he desires to pay forward. He met a lot of people at UT with entrepreneurial experience, which solidified his confidence and understanding of his passion. He is looking forward to spending more of his spare time in New York teaching middle school students about technology, 3-D printing, and coding for an outreach program called Code Next. “I think exposure is so important in the early stages of someone’s life. Especially during adolescence,” he said.
Glover reflects that, to him, being a Haslam Scholar means “being comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time.
There were times during my experience when I felt that I did not have the perspective or the background to analyze a certain text or piece of literature as well as some of my peers. In those situations, I had to learn to be comfortable with understanding that I had a lot of space to grow. Being in HSP really taught me how to be open to being uncomfortable, while exposing myself to different academic, social, and professional environments.” He encourages current and future scholars to maintain that sense of vulnerability while enrolled in the program: “Never stop thinking about and pursuing what you love. Understand that there will be times when you’re not doing or experiencing the things that you love. It can make you un- comfortable, so you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable— but do not accept that as your end state. If there is a place you see yourself and you have a vision, keep striving for that.”