Alumni Connections - No. 91 - February 2012

Alumni Connections is a sampling of alumni news. Alumni on the Move, Alumni to Know, CEO Watch: Taking the Lead, and CEO Watch: Making Headlines share news gleaned from media online and in print, including news submitted to Chicago Booth Magazine. Submit information about yourself or fellow alumni to

Alumni on the Move

Ball State University:
Thomas Bracken, ’11,will succeed his father on the board of trustees. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels appointed Bracken to a term lasting until December 31, 2015. A member of the Bracken family, which is related to the university’s founding Ball family, has served on the board since its inception. The university is located in Muncie, Indiana. Bracken owns Auto Build Assemblies and works as a software programmer at the company.

BMO Financial Group:
J. Robert Prichard, ’71,
is slated to be appointed nonexecutive chairman of the board at the March 20 shareholders meeting. The financial services organization is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Prichard, who is president emeritus of the University of Toronto, also serves as nonexecutive chair of Torys LLP and a director of George Weston Limited and Onex.

CerMed International, Inc.:,
Blaine Rieke, ’70 (XP-26),
has joined the board of directors. Based in Monterey, California, the international medical device company develops products to reduce the risk of female reproductive diseases.

Ciena Corporation:
Saad Khan, ’07 (EXP-12),
has been appointed vice president, commercial operations. Based in Coral Gables, Florida, the biopharmaceutical company develops drugs to treat such central nervous system diseases as addictions and epilepsy.

Ivanhoe Energy:
Carlos Cabrera, ’89 (XP-58),
has been appointed executive co-chairman. The heavy oil development and production company is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Cabrera is a former chairman, president, and CEO of UOP LLC.

Nader Tadros, ’11 (AXP-10),
has become head of sales and marketing, Singapore. The software company is headquartered in Mountain View, California.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology:
Michael Howard, ’91,
has been appointed vice president for finance. The science and technology college is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Keith Keller, ’83,
has joined as managing director in the internal audit and financial controls solution in Atlanta, Georgia. The global consulting firm is headquartered in Menlo Park, California.

Rally Software
Tim Wolf, ’76,
has been named to the board of directors. The software company is based in Boulder, Colorado.

Sophie Kornowski-Bonnet, ’89,
has been promoted to head of Roche Partnering and has joined the corporate executive committee. Previously she was general manager of Roche Pharma in France. The biotech company is headquartered in Basel, Switzerland.

Seagate Technology:
Kristen Onken, ’79,
has been appointed as an independent director on the board. She has been named to the audit committee. Headquartered in Scotts Valley, California, the company makes hard disk drives. Onken is former CFO of Logitech International, S.A.

UBS Wealth Management Americas:
Ajay Desai, ’98,
is managing director and private wealth advisor of The Desai Group, which has joined the Chicago-based private wealth management office of UBS. The financial services company has headquarters in Zurich and Basel, Switzerland.

USA Technologies, Inc.:
Steven Barnhart, AB ’84, MBA ’88
, has been elected lead independent director on the board. Having been appointed to the board in October 2009, he will continue to chair the nominating committee and serve as a member of the audit and compensation committees. Based in Malvern, Pennsylvania, the company offers wireless, cashless microtransactions and networking services for the vending industry. Barnhart is senior vice president and CFO of Bally Total Fitness.

Westinghouse Solar:
Mark Kalow, ’77,
has been named to the board of directors. The solar power company is based in Campbell, California.

Alumni to Know

A new website connects businesses to other businesses so that they can barter for favors for one another. Called, the start-up cofounders include George Aspland, ’08, Scott Roberts, ’08, and Adam Rodnitzky, ’08.  “For example, you can use the site to ask someone to retweet a link or give you an introduction. keeps track of who’s helping you the most,” said a December 13 article in Crain’s Chicago Business. The company is based in Chicago and San Francisco, California. Its December launch drew attention from on December 7. “We thought about what makes Silicon Valley tick—and the business world in general,” Rodnitzky said in the article. “And came up with this.”

Do-it-yourself science experiments are a great way to keep children entertained and educated. In a December 13 article in USA Today, Shegan Campbell, ’05, cofounder and executive director of Kids Science Labs in Chicago, lists fun experiments and what they can teach children. Experiments include making homemade slime, or oobleck, which acts as both a liquid and a solid, from cornstarch, water, and food coloring. Children can also make homemade tinker toys or a tornado in a glass. Campbell started the company with Keith Norsym, ’05.

Michael Durbin, ’98, is featured on the 2010 DVD package, Strategies for Increasing Profits under an Evolving Regulatory Framework, put out by Golden Networking’s Derivatives Leaders Forum. On Disc 2 of the four-disc package, Durbin moderates a panel called “The Exchange-Traded Derivatives Changing Landscape in 2010 and Beyond.” Durbin wrote the book All About Derivatives. He also is a lecturer and financial technology consultant with a focus on high-frequency options and futures trading.

A copy of the Thirteenth Amendment, signed by President Lincoln to abolish slavery, was recently restored by Graphic Conservation Company. Russ Maki, ’96 (XP-65), company president, said as a result, the company experienced a media storm, appearing in 200 newspapers within two days, not to mention television and radio stories. “The almost 147-year-old document signifying the end of slavery is made of animal skin, which was creased and wrinkled, and some of the original iron gall ink had flaked away,” said a December 6 Associated Press wire story. The copy was one of at least 14 signed by Lincoln. It also bears the signatures of most of the lawmakers who voted for it, the article said. Graphic Conservation Company performed the restoration at no cost to the state, to allow it to be displayed at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, come February 2012, rather than stay sealed away there in a vault. “You're in the presence of what I would consider to be one of the most important documents in our nation’s history,” Maki was quoted by the Huffington Post, crediting an AP reporter. “It really takes your breath away to be involved in something of this level of historic importance to our country.” The document took six months to restore, according to a December 8 ABC-7 WLS news story.

Avi Stopper, ’06, is one of the founders of CaptainU, a website that helps parents and coaches promote student athletes for college recruitment. He discussed his journey from business school to start-up in a Q&A for “The Small Business Center” of Fox Business News that ran December 15. When asked how by Fox how Chicago Booth helped him to become an entrepreneur, Stopper said, “Our business really embodies the spirit of the school: to be rational and rigorous about how we do things. We are constantly testing new ideas through scientific methods and it’s always a work in progress. The evolution has been phenomenal to watch.” CaptainU shared the New Venture Challenge prize for $25,000 in seed money in 2008.

Suria Suppiah, ’07 (AXP-6), discussed the benefits of obtaining an executive MBA in a December 19 article in Business Times. Going through the program has helped him to make decisions, he said. While going with a gut feeling is good, combining a gut feeling with an analysis of data is even better. “The EMBA was an eye-opener,” Suppiah said in the article. “It has helped me make a lot more decisions with the information that is available.” Suppiah, who is head of group synergy and chief administrative operating officer for Parkway Laboratory Services, said the EMBA helped him with a decision to bring two health care companies together, saving money and procurement costs. “The EMBA gives you the courage to make the decision when it is time to make the decision,” he said. “It is about knowing when is enough information to go ahead and do it.”

The economy’s small business sector is showing signs of picking up and that’s good news for job creation. “It looks like we’re seeing small business creation, which is really critical for the long-term sustainability of employment news,” Diane Swonk, ’89, chief economist with Mesirow Financial, told CNBC in a December 2 article. An employment report by payroll services company ADP, revealed that more than half of the 206,000 private sector jobs created in November came from small businesses. “Usually, when you have that kind of a pickup, it’s indicative of small businesses starting,” Swonk told “The ADP survey is a payroll survey, and new small businesses are more likely to use payroll services than an established

CEO Watch: Taking the Lead

Sean Kell ’96
A Place for Mom, Inc.

A referral information service and resource center about senior living, the company is based in Seattle, Washington.

Brandon Moore, ’10 (XP-79)

Moore joined as CEO in November. The online marketplace for foreclosure properties is headquartered in Irvine, California.

Clifford Stocks,’89
Theraclone Sciences, lnc.

The biotech company discovers and develops antibodies. It is based in Seattle, Washington. Stocks previously served as chief business officer of Calistoga Pharmaceuticals.

CEO Watch: Making Headlines

Bart Becht, ’82
Former CEO
Reckitt Benckiser

Becht left the top spot in September to “do something different,” such as “to work more with private companies—either investing in them, comanaging them or sitting on their boards,” he said in a December 9 article in the Daily Telegraph out of the UK. He had been CEO since 1999. Becht had been known for saying that conflict is good. But he amended that, telling the Telegraph, “No, constructive conflict is good. Y’know, have a heated debate but ultimately come up with better solutions. Not any kind of conflict.”

Scott Griffith, ’90

The car-sharing company recently turned its first quarter profit in a decade, according to a December 5 article in Cleantech. Griffith was asked about getting Americans to switch to car-sharing from personal car ownership. He told Cleantech: “We see our greatest competition as personal car ownership and the American dream of a car in every garage. This has been inextricably tied to the American dream for almost 100 years.“Based on member surveys, we know that Zipcar households spend only 6 percent of income on transportation,” Griffith said. “About half of Zipcar members sell a car or choose not to buy a car as a result of their Zipcar membership. That makes urban life more affordable for many, many people. For our more than 650,000 members, the value proposition is loud and clear.”

The next challenge to company growth, Griffith said, is expanding Zipcar’s global reach.


Matt Maloney, SM ’00, MBA ’10

GrubHub, an online food ordering service, recently acquired FanGo, an app that lets Smartphone users order food from stadiums and airports, said a November 8 article in Crain’s Chicago Business. “Mobile is a key part of the company’s growth strategy—mobile ordering grew 300 percent last year and should account for more than half of GrubHub's orders within two years,” the article said. GrubHub also was the presenting sponsor of the Illinois Technology Association 2011 Fall Challenge winners. Louis Wasserman from the University of Chicago earned the top undergraduate prize of $5,000.

Robert Mariano, ’87 (XP-56)
Chairman and CEO
Roundy’s Supermarkets

The company intends to raise an initial $230 million when it becomes publicly traded, said a December 6 article in the Chicago Sun-Times. The company runs four Mariano’s Fresh Market stores in the Chicago area and plans to at least double that number within three years, the article said.

Alex Pedenko, ’03
Mu Sigma

The company, which took third place in the 2011 New Venture Challenge, has won a $100,000 contract for promotional services from Clique Studios, a Chicago-based digital marketing agency.  “As we prepare to launch our initial consumer product in early 2012, winning this promotion from Clique Studios will help us tremendously towards generating the consumer awareness and buzz that will help make Swingbyte a smashing success,” Pedenko said in a December 20 PRWeb article. “We’re confident that as consumers hear about Swingbyte they will have a strong interest in purchasing. The key will be getting the word out in fun and interesting ways. Creative and effective promotions should play a huge part in that process and we are thrilled that Clique will be deploying our consumer engagement campaign.”  

Brian Payne, a student in the Evening MBA program, is serving as vice president, business development.

Dhiraj Rajaram, ’03
Founder and CEO
Mu Sigma

The data analysis company recently has raised another $108 million from investors, said a December 28 article in Crain’s Chicago Business. Rajaram also made Crain’s “40 Under 40” list for 2011.

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