Vi Beaudreau, who recently ended a distinguished career as director of The Hartford's (Hartford, $167 billion in assets) advanced technology group, reflects, "In my 30-some years in corporate America I always thought of myself as a kind of teacher and I always had jobs that required educating the company I was working for in how to use technology wisely." Now he has embarked on a different technology education mission: teaching inner-city high school students to build boats from scratch.
Working with a career boat-building colleague, Beaudreau runs River Wrights Boatbuilders, a youth business associated with Southend Community Services, a non-profit organization in Hartford. Additionally, Beaudreau spends his mornings teaching an e-business strategy course at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Hartford campus.
Beaudreau says his boat-building proteges come to the River Wrights workshop for a few hours after school. "We try to get them ready to go into the workplace with some specific skills," he says. "In a larger sense we help them get comfortable with being an employee." The boats are made to order and student workers share in the earnings from sales.
Beaudreau takes immense satisfaction in the contribution he is able to make to his charges' lives. "When I started this five months ago my mindset was building boats, but the truth of the matter is we're building young adults," Beaudreau says.
Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio