The View from Minnesota
Booth network thrives in the Twin Cities
You might think a man who graduated from business school and then spent the next 34 years working his way to the pinnacle of New York publishing, including a stint as president of Sports Illustrated and another as CFO of Time Inc., might be ready at a certain point to hit the golf course at Hilton Head.
Not Michael J. Klingensmith, AB '75, MBA '76. In 2010, he boomeranged back to the Twin Cities to lead the newspaper that he grew up reading into a digital future. "I knew it would be an intellectually interesting challenge, but also fun, because it's my hometown and I'm a big fan of the sports teams here," Klingensmith said in an interview. At a time when other newspapers are laying off staff, the Star Tribune "is very profitable," Klingensmith said.
Despite the Twin Cities' chilly winters, it's no wonder that Klingensmith, who serves as a University of Chicago trustee, didn't mind returning. The area is host to a forward-thinking and progressive business community and is known for its high quality of life.
It also punches above its weight in concentration of major corporations headquartered there, including Target Corp., Cargill, 3M Co., and General Mills Inc. It's no surprise then, that it also is home to a large number of Booth alumni in high-ranking corporate positions - 24 CEOs, 33 corporate presidents, and 22 executive or managing directors.
These leaders in business give back frequently to Booth, whether returning to campus to speak to students, assisting in referrals of MBA candidates, or hiring graduates.
"We think that the diversity of the student population and the skills they are bringing from Booth have prepared them well for a career in business at Cargill," said David MacLennan, '88, CEO of the commodities giant.
The Booth network thrives in the tightly knit Twin Cities business community, and business leaders get to know each other in unexpected ways.
Take Alisa Miller, MBA '99, MPP '99. She met Klingensmith through his wife, who served with her on the board of the Loft Literary Center, a haven for writers, poets, and playwrights. Miller's interest in storytelling informs her work as president and CEO of Public Radio International (PRI), a producer and distributor of radio programming, in-depth journalism, and interactive experiences on PRI.org. The Minneapolis-based nonprofit's flagship shows are The World, a daily hour of news coproduced with the BBC and public radio WGBH Boston, and The Takeaway with John Hockenberry coproduced with WNYC New York. In 2012, Miller steered the acquisition of PRI by WGBH, which created the largest public-media organization in the country, with about $200 million in revenues.
In an interview, Miller described her career as an amalgamation of "journalism, business, and tech." Booth grounded her in the notions of business planning and entrepreneurial finance that she uses every day. "My courses with professors Steven Kaplan and Ann McGill provided frames to approach questions of innovation, of how we create new products and services," she said.
Miller stays connected to Booth by speaking with students in the Media, Entertainment, and Sports Group and at various classes. Booth graduates "tend to be people who have a high level of talent and capability," said David Meline, '86, senior vice president and CFO at manufacturing giant 3M. "Booth did a wonderful job of preparing me. I was an engineer at the beginning and the school transformed me into a business person. It gave me the finance skills I've used intensively every day for the past 25 years."
Meline recently pushed through a substantial revision in 3M's capital structure, to achieve a more optimal balance of equity and debt funding. This change came out of "the skillset I learned in business school," specifically the Miller-Modigliani theorem, which he learned from the esteemed late finance professor Merton H. Miller, winner of the 1990 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Meline serves on the Booth CFO Advisory Board, which plans the annual CFO Forum.
MacLennan also served on the CFO Advisory Board when he was CFO of Cargill. His schedule is less flexible since he was named CEO on December 1 - he runs the largest private company in the United States with 142,000 employees in 67 countries and revenues of $137 billion.
"Every day is a new, interesting adventure," MacLennan said. "I thought I knew Cargill well, and I do, but there are things I am learning."
The other thing you notice is that "your views become more followed," he added. "Now that you've got the job, what you've got to say is far more interesting than it was on November 30. Your jokes become a lot funnier." ■
Executive/Managing Director 22
Chief Operating Officer 7
Total Booth Alumni 150
TOP BOOTH EMPLOYERS
Target Corporation 32
General Mills Inc. 22
Cargill Inc. 18
Medtronic Inc. 14
UnitedHealth Group 13
3M Company 11 Ecolab Inc. 8
Thrivent Financial 6
University of Minnesota 4
Honeywell Inc. 3
Jeffrey Slocum & Associates 3
Margaret A. Cargill Foundation 3
Pine River Capital Management 3
On a hot Friday night last July, dozens of Booth students and alumni gathered on a downtown Minneapolis rooftop restaurant for the Summer Soiree. The annual event was cofounded by Gene Han, '02, director, Enterprise Strategy at Target Corp., and attracts hundreds of MBA program interns and alumni every year. The Soiree has raised more than $100,000 for more than a dozen local nonprofits over the past nine years.
Booth alumni in Minnesota come together for networking events like this throughout the year, said Brad Johnson, '10, president of the Chicago Booth Alumni Club of Minneapolis/ St. Paul and director of health-care reform implementation at UnitedHealthcare, the Minnesota-based insurance giant.
The Twin Cities club, like local groups around the world, helps connect alumni and tune them in to developments at the school.
The club collaborates with Admissions to help publicize events and provide information to prospective and admitted students. The club coordinates with Alumni Relations on major events such as Worldwide Booth Night and Chicago Conversations, and plans local events such as picnics and the annual Twins baseball game. Club leadership helped establish the Twin Cities Alumni Network in 2011, which connects Booth with the local alumni clubs of other top schools around the country and opens up even more networking opportunities.
The geographic proximity of Minneapolis to Chicago helps keep the group active. The Twin Cities has a number of mid-career students who travel to Chicago for the Weekend MBA Program.
"If we know about them, they'll get invited to our events," Johnson said. "We are inclusive in our community. The sooner you can plug into that the better." The club has a Facebook page and a LinkedIn group.
Johnson noted after graduation, friends who have shared the intense experience of the MBA program disperse around the world for jobs: "You go from seeing people every day to seeing people almost never." He wants to sustain those relationships and create new ones.
"There is this whole world of people out there I would like to get to know and have in my network," he said. "The best part of being a Booth alum is all the other Booth alumni." ■