Before Jonathan Spungen understood anything about finance or accounting, he’d already been in some high-powered business meetings. His parents took him and his sister on their business trips. As the owners of PEER Bearing and PEER Chain Co., the family took Spungen to nearly 20 countries for business and vacation before he came to the University of Denver.
While a degree in business seemed like an obvious choice, he says his parents didn’t pressure him.
“They told me to go to school with an open mind,” he said. “So, I didn’t choose a degree right away. I ended up liking how broad business is – it’s some psychology, history, markets, economics – I’m passionate about business.”
Spungen is one of 38 undergraduate students expected to graduate with a business degree from the Daniels College of Business this fall.
While he had an unprecedented exposure to business before attending classes, he needed a solid foundation. He recalls the foundation starting at the very beginning with Ethics Boot Camp and leading up to his internships. He interned at the U.S.-Vietnam Chamber of Commerce, where he designed their website and joined a delegation to Vietnam. He also interned for two summers for the U.S.-China Chamber of Commerce, where he handled computer programming, event planning, research and creative writing.
“He was passionate about his responsibilities,” said Siva Yam, president of the U.S.-China Chamber of Commerce. “He was willing to do more than what he was asked.”
He also built up his business foundation from a wide variety of core courses at Daniels, including Introduction to Financial Accounting. The demanding course requires students to understand the theory of accounting and apply it to the real world.
“He interacted with fellow classmates and absorbed the broader issues presented by the class material,” said Jacqueline Eschenlohr, teaching professor at Daniels. “He was one of the few students who could analyze and relate the material to current issues.”
Spungen also took advantage of DU’s study abroad and service learning opportunities. He volunteered to mentor high school students with a program called Eye2Eye and he traveled to Columbia doing communication work with AIESEC. During his time at DU, he’s also traveled to Poland, Germany, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam, Mexico, Mauritius, Morocco, South Africa, Russia, Mongolia, Nepal, Tibet and Namibia.
These travel experiences set him apart, according to H.G. Parsa, professor of hospitality management.
“Jonathan is an exceptional student with a mission for life that truly reflects the vision of DU – a great private university dedicated to public good and Daniels – pioneering business for the public good,” Parsa says. “He believes in international business and wants to be global citizen that makes a difference in others’ lives. He is passionate about helping others while doing well. It is no surprise he is attracted to Daniels as much for its core values as much for its academic rigor.”
Like most students who come through the Daniels College of Business and DU, Spungen is leaving with marketable skills. He’s well-rounded, well-traveled and fully capable of having a successful career. His challenge will be living up to his family legacy.
You might remember a story from eight years ago where the owners of a ball bearing company in Waukegan, Illinois, gave out huge bonus checks to their employees just before Christmas. It was memorable because the Spungen family didn’t just hand out small checks, but shared $6.6 million with the 230 employees of PEER Bearing Co.
Jonathan Spungen was just 15 years old when his family sold PEER Bearing to SKF and handed out the bonuses. His family has also started the Florence & Laurence Spungen Family Foundation, which focuses its grant-making on health related issues, especially cancer research, care and treatment, and Jewish causes. The Foundation also owns one of the best known exhibits of Holocaust materials related to stamps, covers, postcards, letters, bank note forgeries and manuscripts from concentration camps and Jewish ghettos. They lend out the exhibit for public showing.
Point being, it seems the Spungen family has been channeling private business for the public good for years. We hope the Daniels vision served to reinforce what Spungen had already learned and he’s set up for a long, successful and benevolent future.