Senior Business Leader Joins SMU Cox Spears Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership

by Anna Martinez|

New Managing Director Joshua Taylor Brings 20 Years of Strategy and Entrepreneurial Experience

headshot of Spears managing director, Josh TaylorDallas (SMU) March 7, 2024 – Veteran leader Joshua Taylor has joined SMU Cox School of Business as the Managing Director of the William S. Spears Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership. Taylor will be responsible for leading the Institute’s goals, programs and operations, in alignment with the overall mission and vision of SMU Cox, Co-Founding Directors Megha Tolia and Nirav Tolia and benefactor Dr. William S. Spears.

Taylor brings 20 years of experience in senior leadership roles in strategy consulting, Fortune 500 and start-up organizations. He has led large, cross-functional teams through multiple successful strategy and transformation programs in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Most recently, he was the Chief Strategy Officer at a rapid growth, venture-backed consumer product start-up based in California.

Dr. Spears, Founder and Chairman of Cenergistic, launched the Institute in April 2022 with the largest gift by a non-alumnus in the history of SMU. A successful entrepreneur himself, Dr. Spears happened to live next door to two other globally respected entrepreneurs—the Tolias—and brought them on board in September 2023 to serve as co-founding directors of the Institute.

“With Josh leading the daily work of the Spears Institute and working with Megha and Nirav to help shape and implement their ideas,” says Spears, “we’ve got the ideal trifecta of strategy-minded, entrepreneurial leaders to positively influence careers, spur innovation and inspire entrepreneurship among SMU Cox students who will in turn shape the economic future of our city, our state and our country.” 

As an experienced leader in venturing and digital transformation, Taylor has been at the forefront of emerging consumer and technology innovation trends for the past decade. He has worked closely with entrepreneurs as a corporate venture lead and advisory mentor to scale their businesses and navigate ever-changing operating environments. Having earned his MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, he maintains close ties to the Bay Area’s entrepreneurial community.

In Fall 2021, Taylor was able to fulfill a long-term goal by joining SMU Cox as a mentor in the MBA startup “Unbridled Ventures” program and adjunct instructor for the Executive MBA program. Building on this experience, he is excited to work with SMU students, faculty, and the broader community to foster the acceleration of entrepreneurial spirit, new innovation and venture creation, and economic growth in the North Texas region.  

Megha Tolia is president and COO of Shondaland, the television production company founded by renowned Hollywood showrunner and storyteller Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Bridgerton and Inventing Anna. Megha Tolia began her career as a brand manager for Neutrogena, spending the last twenty years building and operating mission-driven, consumer-centric, innovative brands. Before joining Shondaland, she spent eight years managing several businesses for SC Johnson, including Method, Ecover, Mrs. Meyer’s and Babyganics. Megha holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Nirav Tolia has spent the last 24 years creating and leading pioneering consumer Internet companies. He is currently Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Nextdoor (NYSE: KIND), the world’s largest local social network. He also serves as Chairman of Hedosophia, a leading technology investment firm and early investor in Nextdoor. Before co-founding Nextdoor, Nirav was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Benchmark Capital, Chief Operating Officer of (NASDAQ: SHOP), an online shopping website, and Co-Founder and CEO of, a consumer review website. Nirav holds a BA from Stanford University and returned to his alma mater in 2019 as a visiting instructor for the Stanford in Florence program.

Leveraging the culture of free enterprise in North Texas, the Spears Institute—led by Taylor in collaboration with the Tolias—will enhance the business ventures of SMU students and faculty and the wider region, support the academic and professional pursuits of students and faculty, and bring speakers to share expertise of interest to the campus and business community.  

The gift creating the Spears Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership was a signature moment for SMU Ignited: Boldly Shaping Tomorrow, the University’s $1.5 billion campaign for impact. Read more here.

About SMU Cox
In 2020, the Cox School of Business celebrated 100 years of business education at SMU. The Cox School is committed to influencing the way the world conducts business via prolific research that provokes innovation, change and global thought leadership. SMU Cox offers a full-range of business education programs including BBA, Full-Time MBA, Professional MBA (part-time), Executive MBA, Online MBA, Direct MBA and Master of Science degree programs, as well as Executive Education. Consistently ranked among the world’s leading business schools, SMU Cox maintains an active alumni network in more than 40 countries. SMU Cox is accredited by the AACSB.

Media Contact: Anna Martinez | 214-768-4474

Headshot of Josh Taylor, Spears Institute Managing Director