Jeff Gold cuts the ribbon for the Experiential Learning Laboratory
Jeff Gold (MBA '78) cuts the ceremonial ribbon and officially dedicating the Jeff Gold Experiential Learning Laboratory in 2011.

UF MBA alumnus has the ‘Midas touch’ when it comes to helping build successful companies

When Jeff Gold (MBA ’78) started his life after graduating from Northeastern University with his bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering, there were two factors he knew would influence his next steps. One, even after all his schooling, he wasn’t sure he would be a great engineer, and two, he was determined to live somewhere warmer than Boston. 

Luckily for the Brooklyn, New York-native, Gold was able to expand his engineering background into something more suitable for his skills and interests via GE’s Manufacturing Management Program and continuing to work for the company in the much warmer Florida climate. This was enabled by the Gainesville area being home, at the time, to the largest rechargeable battery plant in the world which was owned and operated by GE. 

Gainesville also fit the bill with a key element that was on Gold’s wish list – a major university where he could continue his management studies. 

“At the time, Gainesville was the perfect place,” he said. 

Working full-time with GE and pursuing additional education proved to be easier said than done. Gold was interested in earning his MBA at the University of Florida, but at the time, students could only pursue their degree full-time. He tried to reason with the college about why they should let him complete the program part-time. 

“We went around and around, and they didn’t want me in the MBA program as a part-time student,” Gold said. “I went as far as to threaten to write to the governor about why I was a tax payer in the state and should be allowed in!”

Gold’s persistence eventually convinced administrators to grant his request, but on one condition. He had to maintain a 3.5 GPA instead of the 3.0 that was required of other students. With that, Gold believes he became the first part-time MBA student at UF, but he certainly wasn’t only putting in part-time work. 

“I would go to work at 7 a.m., work until noon, and then go to campus for class. After class was over, I’d go back to work until 7 p.m., then I’d go to the library until they kicked me out when it closed at midnight,” he said. “I wasn’t just motivated. I was obsessed.”

Gold’s obsession powered him through the program, completing his degree in 1978 after 5 hard-fought years.

While Gold had the option to continue working for GE after graduation, the position he was considering was based in Michigan. Having gotten used to the Florida warmth, he instead took a position with a newly-public medical technology company, Cordis Corporation in Miami. Even though he didn’t know much about medical technology, Gold took an intense interest in the field. That initial spark of interest grew into 18 years of experience with Cordis, during which time Gold was promoted to multiple VP positions and led a team that expanded Cordis’ technology into other medical areas.

It was during this time period, 1995-1996, that Johnson & Johnson acquired Cordis after taking an interest in its array of successful medical technology products. While Gold decided to leave Cordis after the acquisition, he continued in the medical device industry, relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area. There, he was involved in senior management roles with a series of medical device companies, several of which were also acquired due to their innovative and effective technologies.  

After working to lead and expand other medical technology companies, and a short but educational foray into healthcare venture capital, in addition to 20-plus years serving on multiple public and private company boards, Gold decided it was time to retire. While he doesn’t spend his days in an office anymore, he’s still just as involved with helping to build companies. 

Since 2003, Gold has been involved with Warrington’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center after he was invited by the Center’s founder Arnie Heggestad to join its board. His involvement has since included creating the Jeff Gold Experiential Learning Lab for students, serving as a business plan judge in the Big Idea Competition, mentoring students and even serving on the board of a business that got its start in the Gator Hatchery, Scubotics

Gold met Scubotics founder Jake Easterling (BSECE ‘16, MSE ’19) on the annual Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center’s Silicon Valley Program trip. Gold was so impressed with Easterling’s product, a 360-degree underwater camera called the SeaPal, that he knew he had to be involved. 

“Jake is an open book,” he said. “He takes mentorship seriously, and working with him has been an absolute pleasure.” 

Gold’s involvement helped Easterling get in front of leadership at GoPro and discover other applications for his product, including as an educational tool for diving and resource for the military and coral reef conservatories. While these applications weren’t a part of Easterling’s original plan for the SeaPal, it’s his openness to new ideas that Gold thinks will make the UF alumnus successful. 

“Entrepreneurship in my mind is tied to going out, doing and being willing to take input,” he said. “Entrepreneurs have to be comfortable with taking risks, being wrong, and learning from those mistakes to then be successful.”