Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

John Townsend

Executive Director

John Townsend is an innovative entrepreneur, an experienced business executive, and a passionate educator. He returned to Cal Poly after valuable years in the business world. As a lecturer in our Entrepreneurship program, his students experience what he always enjoyed most at Cal Poly, “Learn by Doing” taught by “Those that Do”. Currently serving as the Interim Executive Director for the Cal Poly Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, he also serves on the Board of Directors for and actively advises a number of Cal Poly student launched companies.

John blazed his own trail on his mission to become a successful entrepreneur. He began his career as a partner in one of the world’s largest global strategy and information technology-consulting firms. It was here that he worked with high-profile clients such as Oakley, General Motors, Northrop, Mitsubishi, Boeing, Toshiba, and Edison. John then transitioned to the Chief Information Officer role in both public and private companies and started his own consulting practice where he advised tech-based and early-stage startup companies.

John was the Executive in Residence (EIR) for UCSD Rady School of Management’s MBA Lab to Market course where he co-taught and mentored eight student-led startups, three of which were funded and launched by the student founders.

John is the former President and Chairman of the Board for a mobile app-based solution company that coordinates the operations for the world’s largest restaurant chain. He also served as an Orfalea College of Business (OCOB) Executive Partner where he mentored OCOB students as they navigate their Cal Poly path towards graduation and career or business launch.