Kevin Trapani, the new executive-in-residence in the Love School of Business and a CEO in his own right, hopes to bring his expertise not only to business majors but to any student in the Elon Community. 

Trapani, co-founder of The Redwoods Group, a Certified B Corporation that works to “create safe communities for all,” joined Elon University for the 2021-22 academic year. 

According to dean of the Love School of Business Raghu Tadepalli, an executive-in-residence is an individual who can be flexible and demonstrate a desire to be more involved with students, faculty and staff. 

“They don't work for us,” Tadepalli said. “It's just out of the goodness of the heart that they're giving us the time. The only thing we give Kevin is an office, which he shares, a computer and a phone.” 

While at the university, Trapani said he hopes to share career advice and business insight with students and faculty while helping them collaborate to solve problems, regardless of major or field of expertise. 

“Right now, there’s somebody in the School of Education with a tremendous idea about how to solve a problem, maybe how to remedy the summer learning loss problem or the equity gap in education,” Trapani said. 

When it comes to ideas for business, Trapani said there is no exclusivity. He believes anyone can be passionate about a topic that can contribute to society. 

“I'm hopeful that while I'm here on campus, and in the future, we can find ways to collaborate and help people understand how to meet people where they are, how to solve big problems, regardless of what academic path they take,” Trapani said. 

Parent of an Elon alumni and two current students, Trapani said he feels connected to the university and its mission.

“As we began to learn and understand the leadership and the principles and values of this business school, we really embraced it,” Trapani said. “I think in some ways they've embraced me, which I'm grateful for.” 

Tadepalli said he and Trapani demonstrate a shared vision for what business should be. Tadepalli hopes Trapani will challenge faculty and students to think about how the business school can contribute to society. 

Tadepalli said the success and functionality of a company have nothing to do with what someone majored in during college — he believes anyone has the ability to run a company. 

“You’re not studying business but are very responsible for making sure that the business is contributing to society,” Tadepalli said. “I think this message really resonates with all of Elon and what Elon actually stands for.”

Tadepalli said he hopes Trapani will help students remember not just the logistics of business but also the benefits to society. Trapani has already spoken with a number of classes and faculty members and will continue to do so for the remainder of the academic year.

“I'm hoping to speak to an awful lot of students and help either introduce them to the idea or help them refine the idea that business can and must be a powerful force for positive social change in the world,” Trapani said. “We can teach accounting pretty well, that's pretty proven, but teaching social impact is different.”

Trapani said the business school has made the social impact of business part of its strategic plan and he hopes he can get students and faculty thinking about business in a new way. 

“As a legacy, I hope some years from now, everybody's leading and teaching business in a different way, and they have no idea where that idea came from,” Trapani said. “It’s not about me in any way, shape, or form. Five minutes after students walk out of class, they probably won't have any idea who talked about that idea, but they'll remember the idea.”