Jeffery Beckham Jr. is Chief Executive Officer at Chicago Scholars as well as a community leader, artist, and entrepreneur. In his role, Jeffery is responsible for leading the organization that serves more than 5,000 first-generation and low-income students to reach their dreams while pursuing a college education.
He shared his seven key ingredients for a successful business.
Bring us up to speed, where did you come from and how did you end up at Chicago scholars?
I started actually as an engineer, so my undergrad degree after leaving the University of Missouri Columbia was in management information systems, and growing up I wanted to be the Black Bill Gates, and be able to build that kind of generational wealth to help organizations in small businesses. Particularly from my community, Auburn Gresham in Chicago is a very impoverished community. I had to figure out how to give back and infuse principles of leadership and financial management and build wealth into my community and my people. While working at Atlas medical corporation, I was a sales engineer, building large systems and doing systems integration for hospitals all over the country. I saw a need, hospitals and doctors had a lot of confusion around going digital so I started a company. A consultant firm that taught doctors how to do that.
So you’ve been CEO of Chicago Scholars since April. Looking back at it your first 90 days, what did you set out to do, and what did you accomplish?
You can imagine that, in the pandemic, we had a lot of financial hardship. The first thing I wanted to do was shore up [finances], I’m happy to say that we’ve been able to do that. The next thing I wanted to do was focus on our students, and understand students who have been quarantined not just physically but also somewhat, socially, and emotionally as well. We had to do things to make sure our students felt the engagement, but the connection to the organization and felt the connection to each other.
Tell people where they can find more information about this organization.
You can find us at chicagoscholars.org or Chicago Scholars on all of our social handles. You know it’s a fun organization to be part of, so if you want to volunteer or give your time, talent, or treasure, you can find more information about us there.
What do the seven ingredients for success mean to you?
I think the formula in the seven ingredients for success effectively is a formula for maximizing your leadership potential. Draft your basic business plan, you have to have goals, which are actually measurable, start-up capital, actively educate yourself, seek mentorship & supportive resources, be consistent, establish a strong digital presence, and monitor, evaluate and react to your results.