To highlight the real-world relevance of what we will be learning about in business strategy, I interviewed three experienced executives who you will encounter repeatedly throughout this course. Kurt Bock is the CEO of Country Financial, 100-year-old Fortune 1000 mutual insurance company. Sean Chou is the founder and CEO of Catalytic, growing startup providing Intelligent process automation for a wide range of corporate functions. Sean Chou was also previously the CTO of Fieldglass, a company that was solved for over a billion dollars. Al Goldstein is now in his third startup venture, Avant, which uses technology to provide convenient consumer loans over the Internet. Avant is considered a FinTech unicorn with evaluation of over a billion dollars. In this introductory video, I asked each of these executives to describe their own journey in the business world and to share with you the major stepping stones that lead them to their current leadership positions. I hope you will draw inspiration from their personal stories. I started in the consulting world and in the consulting world, it was a great ecosystem for learning a lot about business in general. I started being able to apply a lot of what I knew about the web to the world of business. As I learned that more and more, this was at the height of the dot-com boom, I ultimately wanted to participate in something of my own. I wanted to leave the consulting world eventually and wanted to create a product of my own, I want to have something that is mine that I can continue using. Whereas in consulting, it's very much you're creating something for other people, you don't really get to reap the benefits of it. That eventually led to me meeting up with Jai Shekhawat, who had both an idea and he had some seed capital for a concept at the time called B2B People, which eventually became Fieldglass, so it was a indirect route to get to Fieldglass. I've actually had a lot of fun in what seems like a even longer period of time than about 15 years of my career in leading up to that Russian immigrant, immigrating with my family from the former Soviet Union at the tender age of eight, growing up in the north suburbs of Chicago and then joining a lot of my high school classmates at the University of Illinois studying finance and math. Interned at an investment banking job out of college, end up getting a full-time offer to go be an investment banker, and thankfully didn't get pulled in 2001/2002, couple of recessions ago, and learned a lot over a very short period of time but then very quickly decided that I wanted to pursue other endeavors. I was able to quit and start a company that now is called the Enova International. We started the business in 2004, and then Avant. We launched at the end of 2012. It's been a crazy three years in change. My two co-founders at Avant, like my prior company, were actually former interns of mine at my first company. University of Illinois graduates are younger than me, a lot smarter than me. One runs our technology organization, the other runs our analytics organization. Both were participants in the Y Combinator start-up incubator program in San Francisco before Avant and their personal experiences is what led us to start Avant as they were trying to get a loan from a traditional branch based lender and had a terrible experience. We can see this business really with the premise being to change the offering to consumers across the world in providing them a better quality product, better service, when it comes to credit. That's a long way of saying, but we've had a great run where as I said, a little over three years old, we have originated nearly three billion dollars of loans on our platform. About 950 employees today operate in the US, UK, and Canada, and currently we have an unsecured loan products, are currently launching an auto finance product to revitalize the auto finance vertical and are looking to launch a credit card and have raised over 600 million of equity capital, have raised over three billion dollars to various forms of debt funding and for overflow commitments to buy loans off of our platform from various forms of institutions. I'm very non traditional. I was in 1975 graduate of the US Air Force Academy. I spent 28 years on active duty in the Air Force, which was a great experience, but a lot of leadership opportunities. My last three years though, were at the University of Illinois, I was the lucky person that was the Professor of Aerospace Studies at the UFI, which is commonly known as the ROTC unit. I got a PhD at St. Louis in business administration finance management science. That comes into play because when I left the Air Force, the Illinois Farm Bureau has a credit union that was about 150 million of assets. They were looking for someone to be the CEO that understood asset liability management and my doctoral work was in risk-based capital so it was easy. It's over there. I spent two years as a CEO over Credit Union, became the treasure of Country Financial, which is a affiliate of the Illinois Farm Bureau, went into a private company, an employee on company in Champagne for three years and then came back to be the Chief Executive Officer in 2012. A real non-traditional route in insurance for sure but I will tell anyone that every one of those steps really prepared me for this.