Walter Isaacson

Walter Isaacson

Each year for the past five years, WEX Inc. has brought in a big-name speaker to keynote its Leadership and Creativity Event Series at the University of Southern Maine. Past speakers include Sen. George Mitchell, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodard and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

This year’s speaker, which WEX announced today, will be a special treat for those interested in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Walter Isaacson, the official biographer of Apple’s Steve Jobs, will be the keynote speaker at the 5th annual WEX Leadership and Creativity Event Series, to be held Wed., Nov. 5.

WEX, a South Portland-based provider of corporate payments technology (a hot sector), created the speaker series in 2010. Proceeds of the event support the WEX Scholarship Fund at USM. Last year’s event raised $20,000 for the fund.

Isaacson’s talk will draw heavily from a new book he has coming out in early October titled, The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution.

He plans to discuss the history of the innovators who created the computer and Internet, and what talents in general allow certain inventors and entrepreneurs to turn their disruptive ideas into realities. He’ll also share his perspectives on creativity and what other characteristics, such as teamwork, allow leaders to succeed.

Though he is probably best known for his recent biography of Steve Jobs, the now-deceased founder of Apple, Isaacson’s resume is much more extensive and impressive. He is the current CEO of The Aspen Institute, the nonprofit policy and educational organization that runs the annual Aspen Ideas Festival. He is also a former CEO of CNN and former editor of Time magazine. Besides his best-selling book on Jobs, he has also penned biographies of Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and Henry Kissinger.

“As a company heavily influenced by technology, we are very excited to welcome Mr. Isaacson to USM and hear his perspective on innovation and its evolution,” Melissa Smith, WEX’s CEO, said in a statement. “Technology has developed at an extraordinarily fast rate in such a short amount of time, and continues to do so, making this topic extremely relevant in today’s world.”

Isaacson’s background gives him a unique and informed perspective on creativity, innovation and what it takes for an entrepreneur to succeed. I, for one, look forward to what he has to say when he comes to Portland.

The event is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. on Wed., Nov. 5, and be held at USM’s the Abromson Community Education Center on Bedford Street in Portland.

Tickets will cost $35 and go on sale Oct. 1. For more information, check out the website.