Kracher and Taylor: Breaking Through to the Real
Whaaaaat? Another mentoring story? Absolutely. With so many exemplary mentors walking the halls of Harper, every month is National Mentoring Month at HCB.
According to Bev Kracher, PhD, the Robert B. Daughtery Endowed Chair in Business Ethics and Society, professor of business ethics and society, and founder of the Omaha area’s Business Ethics Alliance (Alliance), meaningful mentoring relationships “break through to the real.” Often enough, they begin with availability resulting in conversation. These conversations lead to connection, with a mentorship relationship developing. And if you are really lucky, friendship blossoms from all these conversations and coffees, the teaching and learning, advice given and received and interests shared.
Kracher has engaged in plenty of conversations with students, and she has mentored more than a few. But one relationship, a friendship between kindred spirits, stands out. And it all began in Deglman Circle over a decade ago.
When Alexis Taylor, BSBA’14, ESG strategy lead at Indeed.com, was a first-semester freshman, she was standing in Deglman Circle after a business event, chatting with someone who was singing the praises of a Heider professor named Kracher and advising Taylor to email the professor. Then, a few months later in the spring, a sorority sister recruited her to help establish a college division of the Alliance, the nonprofit business ethics organization Kracher founded and of which she served as CEO. After their first meeting, Taylor says she was sold on the Alliance’s mission and Kracher.
She credits her work with Kracher and the Alliance to discovering what “being a builder” entails. “I learned how to establish and grow a team, develop high profile programs that fostered dialogues with diverse participants, design ethical risk assessments and make recommendations based on the results, and implement a code of academic integrity. It was the most incredible experience, and it equipped me with the foundational skills to enable large-scale change,” Taylor says.
This schooling would later become invaluable in Taylor’s impressive social entrepreneurship career, including launching entrepreneurship diplomacy programs with the U.S. State Department, leading World Economic Forum Global Shapers initiatives to incubate systems-level solutions, and writing policy recommendations on climate equity and economic prosperity as a city of Austin commissioner.
In addition to building the college division of the Alliance together, Kracher eventually became Taylor’s advisor.
“Bev has been a steadfast mentor throughout my journey. While at Creighton, she never tried to confine me to a specific discipline. Instead, she encouraged me to lean into my love for learning, explore everything I was interested in and evolve my understanding of the impact I could make.” Taylor, who majored in management, focusing on social entrepreneurship and business ethics, says. “My career has followed this same trajectory – I’ve continued to pursue roles and opportunities that expand my worldview and my potential across sectors – rather than limit it to one.”
In fact, Taylor has been called an octopus because she has so many tentacles in so many different endeavors, much like Kracher. Exploring how business can be a force for good and how its partnerships with other sectors can affect positive change are two themes that unite her many efforts.
The two continue to keep in touch and share their thoughts on current business events, such as the recent Elizabeth Holmes trial.
“Alexis said many times that the ‘fake it till you make it’ Silicon Valley mentality was one of the things on trial – as much as Holmes herself,” Kracher says. “Alexis is right, and this is an example of how I learn from Alexis perhaps as much, or more, than she learns from me.”
Kracher says she admires Taylor’s “eagle eye for business ethics” and her global perspective: “Anyone who thinks globally is super in my book. It’s because there is a humility about them, a recognition that there is always something to learn about people and culture.”
And speaking of culture, Kracher says that “there is a culture at Creighton that prompts mentoring. As faculty, we are expected to care deeply about students’ academic performance. But one of the Creighton core values is educating the whole person.” Mentoring and the long friendships that mentoring often fosters is one of the gifts of teaching at Creighton.
For her part, Taylor is enormously grateful and honored that she connected with Kracher, who, she says, shares her love of learning, openness to asking big questions and commitment to growth.
Mentors are “people who come into your life who you don’t expect, and who will help you grow in ways you didn’t think you could,” says Taylor.
Rather like an email address passed along in Deglman Circle many years ago.
This story is part of our mentoring series in honor of National Mentoring Month. Read all the stories in the series: Kracher and Taylor: Breaking Through to the Real, Wei and Ge: Shared Experience Academic Focus, Menzel Baker and Wright: Meeting of the Minds, Olson and Idra: Mentoring a Mentor, McMahon and Fohr: From Mentorship to Friendship and Parrish and Grad: Paying it Forward