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Karin (Dommermuth) O'Connor

Karin (Dommermuth) O'Connor

Clinical Assistant Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Northwestern U | Executive Director, Heizer Center for Private Equity and Venture Capital | Class of 1982

Little did Karin (Dommermuth) O'Connor know at the time how signing up for Intro to Banking would change her life.

The course — taught by Gies College of Business adjunct professor and Busey Bank executive Ed Scharlau — was “a real eye-opener for me, an LAS Finance major who was trying to figure out how to start a career,” as O’Connor remembers it.

“Ed always came to class with an upbeat attitude and lively stories about the goings-on at the bank — deals they were doing, customers they'd helped that week and the bank's own innovation strategy and expansion plans.

“We even got to do a project with one of the management teams there — mine was ‘Should we install ATM's?’ Our group recommended ‘no’ — the tech was still really glitchy in those days.

“Ultimately, my experience in Ed's class led me to interview with Chicago-based commercial bank training programs. I landed at the Continental Bank, now part of Bank of America — amazing training and big responsibility early on, which set me up for my current career in venture capital.

“It’s also where I met my husband.

“Ed certainly deserves a big thanks from me.”