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CEOs go back to school to connect with leaders of tomorrow

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Posted at 3:50 PM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 15:50:48-05

TAMPA, Fla. — More than 160 CEOs from across Hillsborough County went back to elementary school this month. It’s part of a program designed to introduce our current leaders in the business community to our future leaders of tomorrow.

Aakash Patel, CEO of the marketing company Elevate, Inc., was there to greet students as they arrived at Gorrie Elementary School, then follow them through their daily classes, and even wave goodbye in the afternoon.

“There’s no better way than for a business leader to see a school and meet the students for themselves to understand the needs that they have,” said Patel.

“This is a great opportunity for the community to be in our schools and to see what we do every day, getting our children ready for the future and future careers,” said principal Marjorie Sandler.

Patel said when you ask students what a doctor or firefighter or astronaut does everyone raises their hand, but a CEO is a new term for many of them.

“I’ve heard of it but I didn’t know what it was,” said 5th grader Tyler Hammond.

Patel said once he explained what he did, the questions just kept on coming.

“‘Was it hard to start a business, did you have a business plan, what kind of challenges did you face,’ I mean these are innovative smart kids and these are things when I was in fourth or fifth grade I didn’t think about it,” said Patel.

Fifth-grader Nina Gore said the experience made her rethink her future.

“You can be the owner of your own company and you can run things the way you want to do it,” said Gore.

These CEOs understand the future of all their companies rests on the shoulders of our current students. It’s time to start preparing them right now.

“We got to recruit a better workforce, these are the kids that are going to run our community someday so we have to educate them as much as we can and connect them to our business leaders and that's what this program is all about,” said Patel.