A graduate of the first cohort of the nation’s top entrepreneurship program for undergraduates has been named the prestigious Entrepreneur of The Year® 2023 Gulf South award winner by Ernst & Young LLP (EY US).
Ludmila Golovine, (’94), founder of the multi-million-dollar company, MasterWord Services, has long acknowledged the importance of launching her business while she attended the inaugural session of the Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship at the C. T. Bauer College of Business.
The significance and synchronicity of receiving the prestigious EY recognition and celebrating Masterword’s creation 30 years ago simultaneously is beyond anything she could have envisioned, Golovine said. The global language service provider was born of a business plan she created as a Wolff Center student, and Golovine is emphatic about its vital role in helping her succeed.
"The core principles of Courage, Compassion and Vision that I learned at the Wolff Center laid the foundation for my entrepreneurial journey,” Golovine said. “Today, I’m grateful to be able to give back to the program that played such an important role in my life."
Golovine, who grew up in the former Soviet Union, had only recently arrived in the United States when she connected with her mentor, the late William “Bill” Sherrill, a Wolff Center founder. She became one of the original 50 stakeholders who funded the program, writing check number 50 while still a student. Later, she became the first alum to give an endowed scholarship to the program.
“We are so very proud and delighted that Mila has been selected as EY Entrepreneur of the Year,” Wolff Center Executive Director Dave Cook said. “Mila has brought so much value to the Wolff Center as a mentor to numerous aspiring student entrepreneurs, as a lecturer and through hiring students to work in her company. Her recent endowed scholarship gifts are a reflection of her ongoing commitment to the Wolff Center and the values we believe in. Mila is something special, and we are grateful that she is in our lives and the lives of our students.”
Golovine was a finance major, taking a full load of classes and working as a translator when she was tasked with creating a business plan to fulfill a Wolff Center assignment. She took full advantage of opportunities to learn directly from experienced business leaders involved with the Wolff Center.
Her company providing translation and interpretation services that enabled companies to grow internationally soon found a niche. MasterWord is now the fastest growing woman-led language services provider in the world, serving Fortune 500 companies and public institutions in energy and engineering, healthcare, life sciences, government, technology, insurance, finance, and education.
The Wolff Center, of course, has also grown and excelled over the decades. It has been named the No. 1 undergraduate program in the nation six times in rankings compiled by The Princeton Review and published in Entrepreneur magazine. (It has ranked in the Top 10 since 2007.)
“I’m very grateful for everybody that has been part of my journey, and that certainly includes the Wolff Center. It has grown tremendously, but the core of it remains the same as when I went to those first classes.”
One attribute of entrepreneurship that isn’t taught, but which Golovine brings to her work, is a sense of enthusiasm and purpose. Golovine’s upbringing in a communist country where information was kept under strict control fueled a lifelong passion for enabling communication access for all.
MasterWord continues to grow and evolve on a global scale under her leadership.
“There is tremendous opportunity in extending internet accessibility for people whose language is now marginalized, or outside the mainstream,” she said. “We want to continue to be a contributing part of that success of connecting people across language and cultures.”
An independent judging panel made up of previous award winners, leading CEOs, investors and other regional business leaders selected Golovine as the EY Gulf South award winner. Candidates were evaluated based on their demonstration of building long-term value through entrepreneurial spirit, purpose, growth and impact, among other core contributions and attributes.
She is now eligible for consideration for the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2023 National Awards. The National Award winners including the Entrepreneur Of The Year National Overall Award winner will be announced in November at the Strategic Growth Forum®, one of the nation’s most prestigious gatherings of high-growth, market-leading companies. The National Overall Award winner will then move on to compete for the World Entrepreneur Of The Year® Award in June 2024.