Nathaniel Zadu has always had the entrepreneurial spirit and has long had his sights set on being an entrepreneur. However, he chose to major in information systems and operations management because he acknowledges that—in any business—technology will always play a huge role. “I was scared to major in anything computer-related because of the stigma that it’s very hard,” says Zadu. “But I wanted to challenge myself and study something new. I know that the digital revolution is not going to stop, so I might as well learn it.”
Zadu began his college career at Virginia Commonwealth University, but transferred to Mason because he felt the opportunities afforded by the program and its proximity to Washington, D.C., were a better fit for his career path. So far, it’s been an excellent decision—one evidenced by his participation in the Forbes Under 30 Summit in October. Zadu found out about the summit through LinkedIn last year. He decided that he’d be at the next one—even taking pen to paper and writing down, “next year I’ll be at the Forbes Under 30 Summit.” He applied this year to be a Forbes Under 30 Scholar and was one of the 1,000 students accepted across the country. “Then,” he says, “I saw that other student attendees were being sponsored by their universities.” Always the entrepreneur, Zadu reached out to Dean Maury Peiperl, suggesting that, “It would be a good look for Mason’s School of Business to have a student attend.” It just made sense, Zadu thought. Peiperl agreed, and the School of Business paid Zadu’s fees for travel, lodging, and attendance at the summit.
The excitement of the conference still echoes in Zadu’s voice. “It was a bit overwhelming at first,” he says. “There were so many people and I went alone, but I learned so much and the best part was being surrounded by so many successful entrepreneurs and like-minded people.” When asked what his biggest take-away from the summit was, Zadu answers immediately, “Hearing from and seeing people who were self-made. People who didn’t have all the resources at first but figured out how to turn nothing into something.” Zadu explains that this showed him that people aren’t necessarily born with the tools to become CEOs but somehow find a way to make it happen. “You've got to train yourself to think that you can become a CEO.” he says.
Zadu is someone who sees the possibilities—that vision is what made him apply and ask Peiperl to fund his trip. “I would tell any Mason student to apply to these kinds of opportunities. A lot of people don't apply because they don't think they have a chance, but half of being successful is showing up and trying. A lot of people don't try. They don't think it's possible, but I was successful because I showed up. I tried.”