A Global Perspective: Insights from Banu Ozkazanc-Pan ’93


An internet search on Banu Ozkazanc-Pan (‘93) will turn up an impressive profile page at Brown University’s Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship where she’s the Barrett Hazeltine Associate Professor of Practice at the School of Engineering and founder of the Venture Capital Inclusion Lab. Before all these roles though, she was an LAS-er just like you. Schedule a Zoom call with Banu after not seeing her for more than 30 years and she’ll turn up wearing a light blue Mickey Mouse sweatshirt and laugh and smile. 

Like many LAS graduates, Banu found herself a bit lost after graduation in the “where do I belong” sense. When she moved to the U.S., she found the focus on race over all other categories perplexing and felt disoriented by the need to recalibrate the way she thought about people. As a freshman, she was ever so briefly a member of the Black Student Union at Johns Hopkins University, but that didn’t solve anything. The idea that individuals must belong to a single category was unsettling.

Lucky for the rest of us, Banu’s curiosity led her first to study psychology and then complete an MBA at Loyola. She was searching for a way to combine her intellectual pursuits to understand culture and her desire to continue traveling. In a course on cross-cultural management, she encountered cultural theorists who worked from fixed definitions of national cultures. It didn’t feel right, and ultimately, her discomfort led her to the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management where she completed her PhD with a dissertation entitled ‘Globalization and Identity Formation: A Postcolonial Analysis of the International Entrepreneur’. 

As a result of her research and a whole lot of life experience, Banu has a flexible concept of her own identity. Talking about a Turkish Club from her student years, she puts it this way, “I’ll share this label with you on Tuesday.” You can be sure she’ll be picking and choosing her own labels the rest of the week, month, or year.

Today, Banu is married to a guy she met when he crashed her birthday party. She’s the mother of two children who are about the age she was when she went to Leysin, which she describes as an “out of body experience.” She also has her own business making and selling dog treats. She stays in touch with a few classmates mostly via Facebook and looks back on her LAS years fondly. One benefit of the magic mountain experience is that LAS-ers “by design know how to connect with people who are different.” Also, she misses Aromat and fries.

Banu would love to hear from LAS alumni around the world (she’s built a career for travel, of course) or in her field who are equally interested in tapping into the experience and networks she’s built.

Written by Christine Taylor ('94)

Photo Credit: Ampersand and Gray