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For the second consecutive year, Wayne Miller has been named a finalist for the Arkansas Business of the Year Nonprofit Executive Award.
He serves as executive director of The Venture Center, an entrepreneurial support organization headquartered at the Little Rock Technology Park downtown. Miller is a cheerleader for the center and its team, but is reluctant to speak about himself.
What sets him apart is his diverse background in medical device manufacturing, cybersecurity, business development and marketing as well as in the automotive and food industry.
That background also includes growing up in a family of entrepreneurs. His grandfather started a facility that manufactured teeth for dentists, and his father ran a dental practice. “My family came from Latvia, and from an area that’s known for entrepreneurship, and all of them are great craftsmen. … My mother, both my sisters … they’re all artists and remarkable artists,” Miller said. “I’ve had a chance to have just some great mentors in my life.”
Being able to work with their hands is another family gift, he said. Miller’s hobbies include working on motorcycles and cars and carpentry.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught Miller some lessons about being an executive. Onboarding new people without meeting them in person and leading his team remotely have been challenging, he said. But the experience has made clear the need for a collaborative approach to the work that The Venture Center does, Miller said.
“So what I’ve really learned, just for myself and in the leadership role, is what my responsibilities are and how I have to — I just am hopeful that I make the very best decisions I can on a day-to-day basis as it relates to the impact of this and the people that we are responsible to and responsible for,” he said.
Miller hopes to lead The Venture Center for at least another five years and see it expand its expertise in financial technology to include fintech for industries other than banking, such as agriculture and health care.