Alumni Connections - No. 95 - June 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

The Andersons, Inc.:
John Granato, ’91, has been appointed CFO. Based in Maumee, Ohio, the company has diversified interests in such industries as grain, ethanol, plant nutrients, turf products, rail car leasing and repair, and general merchandise retailing.

Black Iron Inc.:
Igor Buchatskiy, ’01,
has been appointed vice president, strategy, based in Kiev, Ukraine. The iron ore exploration and development company is headquartered in Toronto.

Books-A-Million, Inc.:
R. Todd Noden, ’91,
has been appointed CFO. The bookselling chain is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama.

Cantor Fitzgerald & Co.:
Erich Bauer-Rowe, ’83,
has joined as co-head of the emerging markets group. The global financial services firm is headquartered in New York.

Murli Buluswar, ’01,
has joined as chief science officer. The property casualty and general insurance group is based in New York.

City of Chicago, Office of the Mayor:
Aaron Joseph, ’08,
has been appointed deputy sustainability officer. He focuses on energy efficiency, public-private partnerships, and infrastructure investments for the city.

Connecticut Housing Finance Authority:
Eric Chatman, ’86,
has been appointed new president and executive director. The authority is a self-supporting quasi-public housing agency charged with expanding affordable housing opportunities for the state’s low- and moderate-income families and individuals. The authority is based in Rocky Hill, Connecticut.

Duff & Phelps:
Andreas Stoecklin, PhD ’06 (EXP-11),
has been promoted from director to managing director in the Munich office. The financial advisory and investment banking firm is headquartered in New York.

Euramax Holdings, Inc.:
Trey Parker, ’03,
has been appointed a member of the board of directors. Based in Norcross, Georgia, the company produces metal and vinyl products for the construction and recreational vehicle markets primarily in North America and Europe. Parker is managing director and co-head of research at Highland Capital Management, L.P.

Fred Alger Management, Inc.:
J. P. Gravitt, ’00,
has joined as vice president, analyst as part of the technology sector team. The asset management firm is headquartered in New York.

Global Environment Fund:
Luis Miranda, ’89,
has joined as senior advisor. Based in Chevy Chase, Maryland, the private equity firm invests in companies that focus on energy, resource, and environmental challenges.

Integra Group:
Elena Kim, ’12 (EXP-17),
has been promoted to deputy CFO from vice president for reporting and taxation. Headquartered in Moscow, the company offers products and services to local and international oil and gas companies.

Mesirow Financial:
Lavanya Batchu, ’07,
has been promoted to vice president from senior consultant. The diversified financial services firm is headquartered in Chicago.

Morgan Joseph TriArtisan LLC:
Matthew McLeod, ’07,
a member of the technology investment group, has been promoted to vice president. The investment and merchant bank is headquartered in New York.

QuantumWave Capital:
Aamer Hai, ’96,
has been appointed managing director and head of transaction services. The mobile investment banking firm is headquartered in Paris with offices in Palo Alto, California, and Tel Aviv, Israel.

Amit Khanna, '01,
has joined as chief data officer. The customer relationship management services provider is based in Palo Alto, California.

Seagate Technology:
Jay Geldmacher, 91 (XP-60),
has been named to the board of directors. Headquartered in Scotts Valley, California, the company makes hard disk drives. Geldmacher is executive vice president of Emerson Electric Company and president of Emerson Network Power’s embedded computing and power group.

Ticona Engineering Polymers:
Trevor Whitson, ’08,
has been promoted to manage the Americas business for various product lines. The company is headquartered in Dallas. It makes polymers that are used in a variety of industries including automotive, appliance, industrial, and medical.

Verit Advisors:
Brooks Myhran, ’87,
has been named managing director. The middle-market investment bank is headquartered in Chicago.

William Blair & Company:
Alaina Anderson, ’06,
has been promoted to partner. She remains a research analyst. The asset management and global investment banking firm is headquartered in Chicago.

Alumni to Know

Coty, the fragrance company founded in Paris and chaired by Bart Becht, ’82, Left has been pursuing beauty products company Avon. Byron Trott, AB ’81, MBA ’82, (left) has been amassing a war chest for the acquisition of the company. Trott is better known as “Warren Buffett’s favorite banker,” and in the latest spin on the story, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has offered to step in with equity financing for Coty, said a May 10 Wall Street Journal “Deal Journal” blog. An April 4 Wall Street Journal article on the deal said Becht had responded to Avon’s concerns about financing by pointing to Coty’s banks. “Coty has tapped J. P. Morgan Chase & Co., Blackstone Group, and BDT & Co., a firm launched by Byron Trott after a 27-year career at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.,” the article said.

Pieter Dubois, ’10

Paycento, founded by Pieter Dubois, '10, will offer newspapers and other online publishers a way to charge consumers small amounts per story or song. The start-up will rely on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter for consumer identity. “We want to make it economical for the merchant, for the publisher to offer something at any price point, that means both at 10 cents, at 5 cents as at 1 euro," Dubois said in an April 2 Reuters wire service article. Dubois said he hopes to raise about $5 million euro ($8.66 million) from venture capitalists to keep the company going for its first two or three years.

“Planning is important, but initiation is critical.” That is one thing Rahul Gagerna, ’11 (AXP-10), said he recalled from business school, in an April 5 Q&A in the Economic Times of India. Gagerna is senior vice president and head of marketing at Radico Khaitan, where he is responsible for the Magic Moments Vodka brand. Equally important to success in business: research. Gagerna said he almost made the mistake of “rolling out Magic Moments in a red avatar. We wanted to create a new semi-premium price point, and thought it would be better to follow the premium codes,” Gagerna explained. “Red was the premium color in the Indian vodka category. Blue was the dominant color in the regular segment. Thankfully, we test marketed both. And Magic Moments Vodka you see today in blue was a hands-down winner going on to become the category leader in no time.”

James Hassett, ’77, has founded the James A. Hassett/Ernst & Young Scholarship endowment at the University of Hawaii Manoa Shidler College of Business. Hassett provided $60,000 and Ernst & Young matched it for a total scholarship of $120,000. “Hassett climbed up the corporate ranks fairly early in his career establishing an impressive resume that spanned several US cities and countries in Asia,” said an April 12 article in Hawaii News Now. “He began working at the Ernst & Young office in Houston, Texas, and proved early on that he had the passion, dedication, and drive to succeed in the competitive audit, tax and advisory services industry. By age 33, he was named the youngest partner in the Ernst & Young office in Houston.”

In the April issue of On Wall Street, Good Harbor Financial LLC was praised for its performance. It gained 12.9 percent in 2011 using tactical shifting among exchange traded funds—some Treasury-based—and sometimes taking a defensive position, the article said. “What really gave us the opportunity to showcase what the model was intended to do was using tactical moves to avoid the downturn of 2008, and be in a position to reengage in 2009,” said one of the fund managers, Paul Ingersoll, ’08. Three years ago advisors “had such a firm grip on the idea that diversification comes with a buy-and-hold portfolio, that we got less of a hearing. But the world has changed quite a bit in three years. There has been a revolution in the way investors have been thinking.” The majority of Good Harbor’s clients are advisors and they are seeking tactical management. “They say, ‘I used to be buy-and-hold, but this is the second time this has happened to me in a decade. I’m leaving it behind; it hasn’t worked,” Ingersoll said.Good Harbor was formed by Neil Peplinski, ’06, managing partner. Also included on the managment team are Marcus Franklin, ’08, partner, Yash Patel, ’07, director, and Evening MBA student Jeffrey Kim, portfolio manager. The company recently hired five more Booth graduates and currently manage $1.7 billion, Ingersoll wrote in an email to Booth.

To improve your chances of being successful when taking the GMAT, the test required to get into business school, set a realistic target score, wrote Andrew Mitchell, ’02, director of prebusiness programs and GMAT instructor at Kaplan Test Prep in an April 25 Bloomberg Businessweek article. “Set a target that is relevant, aggressive, and achievable,” Mitchell wrote. “What’s more, make sure you have the resources in place that allow you to measure your progress along the way.”

Invesco analysts look for investments in companies that will be “strong enough to endure as long as five years in a given economic environment, so we can wait it out given our patient style,” Kevin Holt, ’95, senior portfolio manager at Invesco Ltd., said in a Q&A published by the Wall Street Transcript on March 22. “I think the good news, whether it’s in the US or Europe, is that all the problems seem to be on the table now, so we all know what the problems are. The first step to solving a problem—and they’re not always easy to solve—is to acknowledge you have a problem and to get everything out on the table. The market is a discounting mechanism, so a lot of people say the last decade within the equity markets have been a lost decade. The markets were discounting what happened in 2008 ahead of time to some extent. I think the markets will probably start to act better as they start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Given that valuations are still attractive, the market will start to act better, and I think that’s kind of what’s happening right now.”

Alex Wohl, ’95, has cofounded Complete DB, software that enables the transaction of millions of messages per second, much faster than previous technology. The company recently released the beta version of this high-performance software that uses proprietary algorithms, Wohl wrote in an email to Booth. The software is available online.

Timothy Wolf, ’76, was the graduation speaker at the University of Colorado. Wolf is on the university’s Leeds School of Business Board of Alumni and Friends. Wolf, president of Wolf Interests, Inc., also played an advisory role on the Colorado governor’s team to examine state spending.

CEO Watch: Making Headlines

Dwayne Butler, ’94
Betty Jean Kerr People’s Health Centers

Butler received the 2012 Health Care Administrator of the Year Award from the St. Louis American Foundation at its May 5 Salute to Excellence in Health Care award luncheon. Butler said that in his four years as CEO, bringing behavioral health services alongside primary care has been his biggest accomplishment. Research shows, for example, that longer lifespans can be achieved when physical issues and mental health are equally attended to and treated. Under Butler’s watch, People’s Health Care Centers acquired Hopewell Center, known for treating behavioral disorders. “The regional and federal medical and behavioral health communities are watching this integration because it is something that they have been talking about for a very long time,” Butler said in an April 5 article in St. Louis American. “We are one of the first organizations that is beginning to put that into practice.” Betty Jean Kerr was Butler’s mother, a founder of the health care center, which started as a free clinic in an apartment basement.


Sue Khim, ’05
Founder and CEO

Alltuition provides online information and tools to make it easier for college students to find financial aid. The company’s latest tool is a financial aid package comparison among various universities, Khim wrote in a blog post about her business on April 9 for Women 2.0. Previously, Alltuition created an award-winning student loan search engine, she said.

Matt Maloney, SM ’00, MBA ’10
Cofounder and CEO

Maloney was a guest speaker at online real estate database company Zillow as part of the Zillow speaker series. In the April 9 video interview filmed at Zillow’s headquarters, Maloney said the online food ordering start-up continues to grow. “Once you discover the GrubHub way of life, you don’t go away,” he said.


Borna Safabakhsh, ’11
Co-founder & CEO
Agile Diagnosis

The start-up offers doctors, nurses, and medical students an online central place for evidence gathering and clinical guidelines, for example, from doctors who have correctly diagnosed similar symptoms in the past, said an April 3 TechCrunch article.


Uzi Shmilovici, ’11
Founder and CEO
Future Simple

Shmilovici offered advice for innovators in an April 8 TechCrunch column, “Strategy for Start-Ups.” His first strategy focuses on the “innovator’s dilemma,” and he summarizes the strategy in four key points:

  • “Understand what is the source of your disruption. Is it a new product or a new way to distribute an existing product? Are you really disrupting the market?”
  • “Pay attention to opportunities in new distribution channels.”
  • “Start by marketing to the group of customers for which the incumbent in your industry has the lowest margin or the lowest interest to defend. Don’t go head to head on their most important customers. They will crush you.”
  • “Remember these lessons when you are at the top.”

Kevin Willer, ’10 (XP-79)
Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center

The new digital technology center at the Merchandise Mart, 1871 (named after the year of the Great Chicago Fire), continues to draw media attention. The tech center is being run by the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center. A recent article included a photo of Illinois governor Pat Quinn touring the center and discussed the kinds of start-ups vying for space there.

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