Student Spotlight

Alumni Q & A: Renee Gillard, entrepreneur, CEO, Brandman grad

Renee Gillard

Renee Gillard in 2016 when she completed her MAOL. She's now in the Ed.D. program and CEO of JOOM 3D.

Renee Gillard grew up surrounded by entrepreneurs on both sides of her family so it was no surprise that she got the startup itch after working in various industries from real estate to technology. Looking to further her career, and with the persistent encouragement of her friend and Lacey campus senior academic advisor Michael Brouillette, she enrolled in the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership program, graduating in 2016. 

Gillard credits her time at Brandman for giving her the leadership skills to take on the role of CEO. Gillard has been at the helm of JOOM 3D for three years. It’s a startup that is developing 3D printers for concrete which will help automate and build affordable housing for the homeless. Gillard says the reason she got into 3D printing stemmed from a blog article written by Aisa Kacyira, based on a United Nations report, which states that by 2030 almost 3 billion people will need new housing.  JOOM 3D wants to help solve the housing crisis by building quick, efficient and low cost homes using 3D printers.

Now Gillard is working on her dissertation about women startup founders and the factors that have led to their success for the Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership program at Brandman. She wants to add her research to this body of work to help women entrepreneurs succeed in the future. Gillard resides in Olympia, Washington. 

How did going back to school help you/your career?

As the CEO of a startup, being in a leadership program has definitely helped me build my leadership skill set. Working in an emerging market, using disruptive technology, I feel that learning to be a transformational leader was vital to my success. 

Who inspired you while attending Brandman? 

My friend and academic advisor, Michael Brouillette, inspired me while at Brandman. He was the person who got me to sign up for my MAOL program and he encouraged me to pursue the Ed.D program with him. It has been great going through the program together. He keeps me in line.  

My almost 90-year-old grandmother is another source of inspiration. She has been an entrepreneur her entire life. She just recently sold the newspaper she has owned for years. She has been a big support, mentor and the person I look up to. 

My mom and dad because without them I wouldn’t be here. Most importantly though is it only takes one person to believe in you to help create success. These two people have been through the ups and downs so many times with me and never stopped believing I will change this world for the better. I really owe everything to them.

Lastly, my Aunt Kim, who passed away when I was 16. She taught me that living life with the “belief seed” in yourself and others was the only way to thrive in this world. I have used those words when I have struggled during the MAOL and Ed.D .program as inspiration to keep going, knowing that in the end it will all be worth it when I have the doctorate.

What advice would you give someone going back to school as an adult? 

If you are going to spend time going back to school make sure it is something you love and are passionate about. Don’t go just to get a degree. I realize that not everyone knows what they are passionate about at first. I believe you can grow into being passionate about something. 

Did anything surprise you about Brandman University? 

One of the things that surprised me during my three years of intensive coursework (in the Ed.D program) was that I didn’t really struggle through the program. It felt like the perfect program for me because it wasn’t test-driven. It really fit my skill set of group projects and writing. I am glad Brandman has a rigorous vetting program for acceptance into the program.

What would you have done differently?   

I wish I would have celebrated my accomplishments throughout the program after each completed class. Celebrating each small victory along the way is key to keeping going. 

What motivated you while going back to school?

I have felt more and more as a woman as I become more successful, it can be harder. Some people don’t realize that it is still a man’s world, especially in technology. Male entrepreneurs tend to get funded with twice as much money as women do but statistic show that women do more with the money.* My biggest motivation is knowing that I will have the Dr. before my name and it will give me credibility in the tech world run by men. 

*Why Women-Owned Startups Are a Better Better Bet

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