2013 Excellence in Achievement by a Recent Graduate Award

Petroff

Chris Petroff

Award Criteria: This award recognizes a young alumnus/alumna who has achieved outstanding success in their professional career in a relatively short amount of time. Service to NAU or the NAU Alumni Association is not a requirement. Nominees must have graduated within the last 10 years. Alumni of both graduate and undergraduate degrees are eligible for this award.

Graduated: 2003 BS in Business Administration

Vice President of Business Development, Phoenix Greater Economic Council, Phoenix, Arizona

Most influential figures: Professor Robert Williams, Professor Paul Brinkman, and Professor Mary Bowers

Favorite memories: Attempting to walk back from class in the snow, working at the NAU Card Office for a semester, and being a part of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. 

Entrepreneurs create the future, and Chris Petroff has propelled the future of many Arizona businesses. In his brief career he has had a tremendous impact on the state of Arizona. He has launched startups of his own and helped drive the local Phoenix economy by encouraging outside business expansion into the valley. Chris continues to be a strong proponent of the local economy and through his actions has encouraged others to do the same.

As vice president of the Phoenix Greater Economic Council, Chris has facilitated more than 20 corporate expansions and relocations, leading to the creation of more than 1,000 new jobs.  The resulting investment impact to the Greater Phoenix economy is in excess of $150 million. He specializes in providing support to businesses in the innovation and emerging tech sectors, extoling the benefits associated with the geography and resource base of the southwest.

In 2011, Chris co-founded SEEDSPOT, a business incubator designed to help social entrepreneurs launch their ventures through a network of support and collaboration. The goal was to enable the success of business owners that had dreams for building products, services or technologies that improved the lives of people or communities on a local, national or global level. SEEDSPOT launched its first application cycle in July of 2012, receiving 191 applications and selecting 16 companies for the inaugural Venture Program and 40 to the Community Program. 2013 saw another 15 full-time and 40 part-time ventures chosen to receive support. “We dreamed of creating a place where early-stage social entrepreneurs could receive the support, mentorship, guidance and resources necessary to bring their dreams to life,” Chris recalls.

He serves on the board of TiE Arizona, a local chapter of the world’s largest entrepreneurial association, as well as the Better Business Bureau of Arizona and the Northern Arizona University Alumni Association. In 2013, Chris was honored by the Phoenix Business Journal as one of Arizona’s “40 under 40”. He presented at the 2012 Ignite Phoenix Food event and the 2013 TEDxKids event, and is a former board member of the Phoenix Art Museum’s Men’s Arts Council. Chris previously served as director of business development for Austin Commercial, a diversified construction firm. Chris resides in Phoenix with his wife Liz (Dinoffria, NAU ’03) and two children, Jack (5) and Lucy (3).

During his time as a student, Chris was a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity, the Cycling Club and participated in the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE). He spent one semester at the NAU Card Office (now the Jacks Card Office), and worked full time with the implementation team for the LOUIE intranet system. He encourages students to get involved in clubs and activities across campus, as they will provide valuable life experiences and create lifelong friends and professional contacts.

Chris lauds his experience at NAU for giving him the opportunity to develop the professional skills that are so critical to success in a business environment. Small class sizes allowed him to receive personalized attention and learn from the practical experiences of his professors. “The direct interaction with faculty and their ability to integrate real-world experience into the classroom has helped me throughout the past 10 years,” he shares.