As a leader in Christian business education, Lipscomb University’s College of Business is committed to producing leaders that embody the core virtues and values of Jesus, and who are highly desired by employers. This year, in honor of its 100th anniversary, the college is recognizing five individuals, including Becca Stevens, president and founder of Thistle Farms, and Ernesto Silva, retired CEO of Coca-Cola FEMSA, who represent its core values of being a servant, bold, purposeful, creative and credible as part of its Centennial Speaker Series.
“Since 2009, Lipscomb’s College of Business has recognized leaders who have not only achieved success in their respective industry, but who have also demonstrated a strong commitment to faith and character as a Hero of Business,” said Ray Eldridge, dean of the College. “As we celebrate our centennial year of the College of Business, we are excited to honor Becca Stevens as our Servant Hero of Business and Ernesto Silva as our Bold Hero of Business, as well as other leaders who embody and uphold the foundational values and virtues of Jesus. Our desire is for our business students to lead with integrity and to live out God’s plan in their lives, so we believe it is significant to give them tangible examples of leaders who have had great success in business and also in their commitment to being a servant leader.”
On Thursday, Sept. 21, the College of Business honored Stevens as its “servant” Centennial Hero of Business for her role in offering victims of trafficking, violence and addiction a loving, grace-filled community at Thistle Farms.
“I can think of no greater example of modern day business as mission than Becca Stevens and Thistle farms in the way they live out their social enterprise, their real business and their real mission,” said Rob Touchstone, director of Lipscomb’s Center for Business as Missions, a program that began in 2015 to help students live at the intersection of faith, career, culture and entrepreneurial thinking by practicing business as mission.
For nearly 20 years, Stevens, who is also an author, speaker, priest, social entrepreneur, has helped women by offering housing, medical care, therapy and education who had experienced trafficking, addiction and various forms of violence. Recently named a 2016 CNN Hero and a White House “Champion of Change,” Stevens is helping women find hope as they redeem their pasts. She was also recently featured in the documentary, “A Path Appears,” named Humanitarian of the Year by the Small Business Council of America and inducted into the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame.
“This is an award and honor given to the whole community of Thistle Farms,” said Stevens. “I am comfortable living outside the boxes of traditional Christian business models, I am comfortable living outside of traditional business models and I am very comfortable living inside the box of community, and Thistle Farms has a communal model.”
During the event, Stevens outlined six goals that has shaped her vision and has kept her grounded throughout her time at Thistle Farms: To make it a relevant work of love; to have a café and serve great tea; to make it edgy and throw people off a bit; to know that work and community is beyond any one person; and to always say yes.
On Thursday, Sept. 28, Silva was honored as the college’s “bold” Hero of Business for his commitment to servant leadership and bold action as he led a team of 44,000 employees to reach the all time record in terms of volume, income, profits and share of Sales at FEMSA in Mexico.
“Ernesto Silva embodies humility as he’s trusted God in the opportunities given to him, but he has simultaneously embodied boldness as he has lived out his faith as the CEO of Coca-Cola Mexico – that’s not an easy thing to do,” said Touchstone.
“I made errors in my career and I asked God to help me with the small things, and He proved He was there and that He listens and that He answers,” said Silva. “I was eager to hear what He said and over 37 years that I have been with the Lord he has been consistently confirming that He is there in good in the good times and bad times. In everything, He is there.
“As a CEO, you have to maintain your substance and let your employees know what you stand for and stick to that,” Silva continued.
For over 44 years, Silva directed operations for FEMSA in Mexico, the largest public bottler of Coca-Cola products in the world, before retiring in 2016. He also led Coca-Cola FEMSA of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He graduated as a mechanical engineer and holds an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, with post-graduate degrees from Harvard University, the University of Thunderbird in Arizona and IPADE AD-2 in Mexico.
Both Stevens and Silva were honored as Centennial Heroes of Business at a special community breakfast and business chapel that was filled to capacity with students from the college.
Want to learn more about Lipscomb’s College of Business and future Centennial Hero of Business recipients? Visit: business.lipscomb.edu.