Alumni Connections - No. 94 - May 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

AirTest Technologies:
Robert Mebruer, ’90, has been appointed to the board of directors. Based in Delta, British Columbia, Canada, the company makes sensors and monitoring equipment for commercial and industrial buildings. Mebruer is group CEO of Omni Marketing Group.

Olivier Lefevre, ’10 (EXP-15),
has been promoted to vice president of Capgemini and CFO of Application Services North America, based in New York. He was previously CFO of Infrastructure Services North America, based in Toronto. Capgemini is one of the world’s foremost providers of consulting, technology and outsourcing services with 13 billion dollars in revenue and 100,000 people in more than 30 countries.

Curlew Lake Resources Inc.:
Harold Noyes, ’01 (XP-70),
has been appointed to the board of directors. Based in Langley, British Columbia, Canada, the company explores for and produces oil, gas, and hard rock minerals. Noyes is president of a privately held exploration company evaluating properties in Minnesota and Wyoming.

Diversified Graphic Machinery:
Paul Peyrebrune, ’76,
has been appointed vice president of sales for cold foil printing technology. Based in Red Bank, New Jersey, the company sells printing equipment.

DST Brokerage Solutions:
Thomas Rozman, ’93,
has been named vice president of sales. The wealth management company is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri.

Dynex Capital, Inc.:
Byron Boston, ’86,
has been promoted to president from executive vice president. He remains chief investment officer. The real estate investment trust is headquartered in Glen Allen, Virginia.

Extreme Startups:
Andy Yang, ’08,
has become managing director. Based in Toronto, the company is a technology accelerator funded by the five largest venture capital funds in Canada.

Diversey Harbor Lakeview Association :
Gene Fisher, PhD ’45, MBA ’48,
has been re-elected to his 13th term as executive director. The association is a coalition of high-rises that are home to more than 11,000 residents of Chicago’s upscale Lincoln Park community.

GE Healthcare:
Kay-Oliver Bunn, ’12 (EXP-17),
has joined as marketing director, health care IT Europe and EAGM. With global headquarters in Chalfont St. Giles, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom, the company offers health care products and services. It is a segment of General Electric Company.

Steven Franz, ’86,
has been named senior vice president of global research and development. He previously served the firm as vice president of research and development for North America. Headquartered in Clarence, New York, the company makes medical device technologies for the cardiac, neurology, vascular, and orthopedic markets.

H.D. Smith:
Bill Williams, ’82,
has been appointed CFO. The pharmaceutical company is headquartered in Springfield, Illinois.

Interaction Associates:
Kevin Cuthbert, ’92,
has been named chief consulting officer. The leadership development company has East Coast headquarters in Boston and West Coast headquarters in San Francisco.

LBC Credit Partners:
Ryan Rassin, ’04,
has been hired as a director in the firm’s Chicago office. The financial firm focuses on middle-market companies. It also has offices in Philadelphia and New York.

Michael Nolte, ’01,
has been appointed executive vice president and chief operating officer. Headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia, the company helps hospitals manage finances.

Mobile Loyalty
Ulf Angelin, ’01,
has joined as CFO. The mobile advertising and marketing company is headquartered in Malmo, Sweden.

The Opus Group:
Richard Figueroa, MBA 94, AM ’94,
has been named to the newly created position of director of capital markets. The Opus Group is a family of national commercial real estate companies headquartered in Minneapolis. Figueroa will be based in Chicago.

Prudential Capital Group:
Billy Greer, MBA 93,
has been appointed to head the firm’s Atlanta office. The firm, which is the investment business of Prudential Financial, Inc., offers private capital for middle-market, public, and private companies. It is headquartered in Chicago.

Reachable, Inc.:
Amit Khanna, ’01,
has joined as chief data officer. Based in Murray, Utah, the company works to enable professionals and organizations to leverage collective relationships and extend professional networks.

Scarsdale Board of Education:
Mary Beth Gose, ’85,
has been renominated for a seat on the board. The election for the school district, located in Scarsdale, New York, will be held May 15. Gose is a former investment banker.

Patti Balbas, 11,
has joined the strategy team as brand strategy consultant. The brand consulting firm is based in New York.

SYNNEX Corporation:
Thomas Wurster, ’78,
has been appointed to the board of directors. The business process services company is headquartered in Fremont, California. Wurster is a senior partner and managing director with the Boston Consulting Group.

Teleflex Incorporated:
Thomas Powell, ’90,
has been appointed senior vice president and CFO. Based in Limerick, Pennsylvania, the company makes specialty medical devices for critical care and surgery.

Mark Loughridge, ’82,
has been elected to the board of directors of The Vanguard Group and to the board of trustees of each of Vanguard’s mutual funds. Vanguard, headquartered in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, is an investment management company and a provider of company-sponsored retirement plan services. Loughridge is senior vice president and CFO at IBM.

Vigilant Video:
Pierre Leroy, ’72
, has been named executive chairman of the board of directors. The firm offers video analytics security and makes other equipment such as automatic license plate readers and license plate capture cameras. Leroy retired from John Deere as president, worldwide construction and forestry division, and president, global parts division.

Westell Technologies:
Naveed Bandukwala, ’00,
has been named vice president of corporate development. The telecommunications equipment company is based in Aurora, Illinois.

Yuma Regional Medical Center:
Carl Myers, ’86 (XP-55),
has been named chief medical officer and vice president of medical affairs. Myers had been interim medical director of the Yuma Regional Cancer Center. The medical center is located in Yuma, Arizona.

Alumni to Know

For Jordan Berliner, SB ’61, MBA ’72, finding a new position was as simple as moving to Bluffton, Georgia. The former entrepreneur—he had worked as president of his own company—told the Savannah Morning News that he had already bought a house in Bluffton when he discovered the posting seeking a director of the new Don Ryan Center for Innovation. “When I saw this job posting I said, ‘Wow, this is fantastic.’ It’s doubly fantastic because I was already familiar with Bluffton.” Berliner said he is confident he can help the town bring in business. “The center is looking for innovation,” he said in the March 11 article. “That could be in a variety of industries, a variety of fields. Or it may be something nobody ever heard of.”

When Renata Bregstone, ’02, was a high school soccer star, she tore her ACL, a major ligament, in a devastating injury that required surgery. Though she has metal screws in her knee and a scar on it, she still occasionally will run 10 miles. “While I am sometimes slow to show off my knees, I don’t regret that sports were part of my life. Athletics taught me to be competitive and a team player and to never give up. My scars remind me of that,” Bregstone said in an article about body image in the April edition of Fitness magazine.

Bregstone also recently launched Strategic Prep, an MBA admissions consulting business, which assists prospective MBAs on the application process including school selection, essay development, and interviews.

Lilly Golden, ’89, offered her predictions for the retail real estate sector for the coming year in a March 9 Q&A in Houston Business Journal. “Grocery stores and a few big-box concepts have initiated new developments across Houston,” Golden said. “However, until the level of home growth increases and there is a stronger correlation between achievable retail rents and the price of land, the rate of new development will remain lower than it was prior to 2007.”

The earth is getting warmer, but not because of human beings’ carbon emissions, Steve Goreham, ’81, told the Ottawa County Patriots, a Tea Party group in Michigan. The Holland Sentinel reported on Goreham’s speech in a March 27 article. Goreham is the author of Climatism! Science, Common Sense and the 21st Century's Hottest Topic.

Power2Switch, a website that lets consumers choose where they want to buy electricity, is playing in Peoria. “We believe that folks should have full flexibility in choosing their power source,” Phil Nevels, ’10, chief operating officer and cofounder of Power2Switch, said in a January 30 article in the Peoria (IL) Journal Star. “One of the problems with municipal deals is that they take time, sometimes up to a year. You can start saving today by selecting your own supplier.”

Patricia Haley-Glass, ’89, an Essence award-winning and national best-selling author, gave the keynote speech at a luncheon celebrating the 35th anniversary of Madison Alumni Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and the 99th anniversary of the sorority’s founding. “She earned the title of ‘trailblazer’ after achieving remarkable success with her first faith-based novel in 1998,” reported the Madison (WI) Times on March 21 previewing the event. “The self-published novel, Nobody's Perfect, sold nearly 20,000 copies in an industry where selling 5,000 copies at the time was highly regarded. The novel was the first of its kind to repeatedly make numerous national best sellers lists.” At the event, Haley-Glass encouraged the sorority sisters to continue to make a difference. “You are charged with going further than those who have come before you,” she said in an April 4 Times article covering her remarks. “You must do more. There is more to do. You can use the accomplishments and failures of the past as a stepping stone, but not as a resting place. The vision is strong, the calling is great, and the need is even greater.” She also talked about the importance of finding your purpose. “To me, the greatest tragedy in life is not that you live a hard life or that you suffer injustices. I think the most tragic thing is living your whole life without knowing the purpose for which you were created,” she said.

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.”

Young entrepreneurs are constantly working and when they’re not, they tend to be thinking of new business ideas, said a January 23 article in Crain’s Chicago Business. Entrepreneurs “can't help it,” said C. J. Przybl, ’11, CFO of BodyShopBids Inc, a website that allows car owners to seek competitive bids from local body shops by uploading photos of the car damage. “You're always thinking of something,” said Przybl.

Many business school grads are finding joy and financial rewards working in small business. Chris O’Connor, ’99, started out at a big business, Deutsche Bank, before joining a start-up, recycling company Renew Solution, as CFO and director of corporate development, said a March 28 article in The Times of London. “I discovered I needed all my MBA skills because in a small business you have so many roles,” he says. “I never thought what I learned about labor negotiation would be relevant but recently I hired 11 staff to launch our newspaper recycling pods in the city.”

Mehul Nariyawala, ’05, has founded Flutter, a downloadable gesture control program. " We hated using the keyboard and mouse for controlling music in the background or watching movies on our computers from a few feet away. So we decided to solve this problem by using hand gestures to control music and videos via the built-in webcam in your computer," the Flutter website says. Flutter was one of 66 companies making a pitch presentation at Y Combinator’s Demo Day at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. In a March 28 article about the day, the Wall Street Journal gave Flutter a thumbs up, calling the idea of enabling gesture control via webcams " fresh."

Markets of Russia, Eastern and Central Europe have been “a great place to be over the last five to ten years,” Richard Seewald, ’05 (EXP-10), partner at Alpha Associates, said in a March 20 Bloomberg television interview, “and we believe that to be the case going forward. Venture capital returns and private equity returns in the region have outperformed places like India, China, Western Europe, and the United States.” He described Russian and Eastern European markets as “hybrid,” with elements of both developed and emerging markets, with a “depth of human capital,” particularly scientists and engineers. “And now these scientists and engineers are building world-class businesses.”

The White House has honored Lisa Walker, ’91, as one of the “Champions of Change” who are “winning the future across America.” A bio of Walker on the White House website said Walker is a member of the Clean Energy Trust advisory board and is founder and managing director of Leadership Capital Advisors, “a boutique-retained executive search firm that brings unparalleled expertise in the selection and placement of general management, commercialization, and operational leadership in the industrial space.”

The stars aligned when Adrissha Wimberly, ’10, moved from vice president of Bear Stearns to founder and chief operating officer of Smarteys, a personal finance start-up focused on people who are one year from or after graduation. Wimberly reveals the inspiration behind the move in a March 19 article on “My decision was based on many things, but the three salient reasons were, one, I was more passionate about the future than I was about the past. Although I enjoyed my career immensely prior to business school, I had an unshakable feeling that my future career was about expressing a passion for helping young people. Two, I no longer wanted to move vertically but instead horizontally. In a corporate gig you move vertically, both higher in title and deeper in skill. In entrepreneurship you move horizontally, covering many different areas. And given the start-up culture, where the weak shall parish, you somehow grow in skill across those many areas, too. Three, I figured the world would never be the same again. When I came to business school in the fall of 2008, the world of investment banking-type finance had changed for the worse. Conversely, the world of entrepreneurship, particularly in Chicago with the rise of Groupon and GrubHub, was changing for the better. There was just no better time to start; the stars may not have aligned like this again.”

CEO Watch: Taking the Lead

Jeffrey Warne, ’94
Perkins & Marie Callender’s, LLC

Warne also serves on the board of managers. Headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, the company runs the Perkins Restaurant and Bakery chain and the Marie Callender’s Restaurant and Bakery chain.

CEO Watch: Making Headlines

Mike Cieri, ’10
Founder and CEO

The start-up, an online site that puts together all a consumer’s potential daily deals in one place, is being acquired by the social video site TwitVid. “The number of major deal sites is shrinking, the ability to share purchase information through Facebook and Twitter got easier, and many consumers are buying fewer deals,” explained Cieri in a March 19 article. “With a consumer internet product, mass adoption is required to be successful, and while our solution worked well for a niche of hardcore deal buyers, we questioned if the market was big enough to get us where we needed to be without a major pivot.”

Charisse Conanan, ’10

The online personal finance site is partnering with Glow Foundation to provide graduating students that the foundation has helped with the Paycheck Planner, Smarteys’ simple budgeting tool. (For more about Smarteys’, see Adrissha Wimberly, ’10, in Alumni to Know.)


Kenneth Corroon, ’99
Aponia Laboratories, Inc.

The pharmaceutical company based in Greenwich, Connecticut, has raised another $460,000 in funding, bringing the total to $3.6 million since its founding in 2010, said a March 6 article in Mass High Tech. Corroon also is founder and CEO of Homeostasis Laboratories.

Seyi Fabode, ’10

To increase conversions, listen to customers who don’t sign on for your services, rather than the existing satisfied customers, Fabode said in a March 29 video interview on Entrepreneurs Unpluggd. Fabode said his company, an online service that presents a chance to shop for and sign up with less expensive electricity providers, saw conversions skyrocket when it employed that tactic. Pay attention to customer feedback from those who had a few questions and didn’t make the switch, because whatever is making them not use your service, “it’s probably the same thing for the next five people,” he said.


Bob Gillespie, ’11
InContext Solutions

Why waste money on costly reality that may not rank highly with customers when you can try out proposed changes virtually? That’s what InContext Solutions is offering to restaurateurs with its new 3D virtual reality. Instead of the traditional way of testing where, for example, a new sign is placed at one store and a different sign posted at another and then survey people about it, Gillespie’s firm conducts the research entirely online. Restaurateurs benefit from access to hundreds of survey participants. “When you do it virtually, you can make a ton of changes very quickly without having to build anything in the real world,” he says. “You can get a ton of people in a short period of time, and you can really isolate the one thing that you’re really concerned about and get both behavioral and attitudinal information from a large group of people.”

Dave Habiger, AB ’98, (XP-67)

The video software company is being acquired by Cisco. NDS software is used by cable and satellite TV companies. " This is a transformational opportunity for not only NDS and Cisco, but also our service provider customers and their consumers. Together we make the connected vision a reality," Habiger said in a Cisco press release on March 15. " Cisco is acquiring NDS sites in Britain, Israel, France, India, and China and is absorbing its 5,000 employees," said a March 15 article, adding, " The boards of both companies have approved the deal, which is expected to close in the second half of this year."

Sean Harper, ’AB ’03, MBA ’09

Groupon has bought the start-up Feefighters, an online business that helps companies comparison shop for credit card processing fees, Crain’s Chicago Business reported March 23. Most of the employees will join Groupon, Harper wrote in a blog post, the article said. TechCrunch also reported on Harper’s post, quoting him as writing: “Our goals have always been to help small businesses run more efficiently, and by teaming up with Groupon, a pioneer in local e-commerce, we are able to execute on that goal even better than as an independent company.”

Bryan Johnson, ’07 (XP-76)
Founder and Chairman, former CEO

In a March 12 Q&A in Crain’s Chicago Business, Johnson talked about the difference between the boom and the current technology industry, and between cities like Silicon Valley and Chicago. “In Chicago, it’s a much more conservative group of investors,” Johnson said. “They want winners, so companies need to show the path, the profitability; they need to demonstrate the viable model. I think you get more base hits and doubles in Chicago and more home runs in Silicon Valley because they’re just a larger number and there’s also more bets being made. I think you fìnd, generally, a more conservative entrepreneurial base out here that is more focused on building profitable, stable, lasting businesses.”

Johnson recently flipped his software company Braintree, which helps online businesses accept credit card payments, by accepting $34 million from Accel Partners. He spoke withtelevision news station NBC about the decision. After four years, “we came to a point in our growth where we were on track to process, I believe, maybe $4 billion in volume,” Johnson said. “And we were ecstatic about it, but our banks were not so excited. They came to us and said, ‘What’s going to happen if someone goes bust? Who’s going to cover it?’ And my car wasn’t apparently sufficient collateral to cover it.” The level of growth forced discussions about the future of the company, he said. The company had grown, he said, because “we embraced our smallness” and had stressed personal attention. The best thing to do is “be who you are and let customers self-select.”

Philip Leslie, ’09
Founder and CEO

ProOnGo is one of the start-ups joining 1871, a workspace for tech start-ups expected to open on the 12th floor of the Merchandise Mart on May 2. The firm is moving three employees from its current home at the Illinois Institute of Technology into the new space in April to test it out. “All of the resources we need are right here without having to think about moving west or moving east,” Leslie told WGN radio in a March 14 broadcast. 1871 will be run by the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, whose CEO is Kevin Willer, ’10 (XP-79). Willer told the Chicago Sun-Times in a March 15 article that the entrepreneurial center had received 300 applications and plans to eventually fill the place with 400 start-ups. “There has been an incredible response from the community in building this co-working center for digital entrepreneurs and we look forward to catalyzing digital tech expansion in Chicago when we open our doors on May 2,” Willer said in a State of Illinois press release dated March 14.

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

Maloney joined a panel of Chicago tech company leaders dubbed the “New Mafia” at the SXSW Conference, the annual March music, film, and interactive festival hosted in Austin, Texas. A WBEZ article on March 13 said Maloney “pointed out that Chicago start-up companies tend to address real-world problems, rather than exploring the cool things that technology can do.” Maloney’s start-up, an online food ordering service, celebrated its eighth birthday by donating spare change to Feeding America, a hunger relief charity, reported Globe NewsWire on March 7. The company continues to expand, and to accommodate its growing staff, is moving to the top three floors of the Burnham Center in Chicago, a move that was widely reported by various Chicago media.

Jeb Ory, ’11
Cofounder and CEO

Ory made a pitch about 5Degrees to the Accelerator competition March 12 to 14 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. The tech start-up makes an app to consolidate all mobile communications by person or relationship. Ory was interviewed about the experience by in a video that aired March 14. " We know this is a great opportunity to get out and share what we do with everybody, so yeah, we spent a lot of late nights and early mornings practicing," he said. In the pitch, Ory described his company as " the first mobile relationship manager designed specifically for how we live and work in today’s mobile society."

Tom Ricketts, AB ’87, MBA ’93
Chicago Cubs

In a video interview with Business Week on March 29, Ricketts said he wrote on his business school application that his dream job would be to own the Cubs. Now that his dream has come true, he is using analytics in baseball, and he compared the sport to the bond market. “You can bring it back to the bond market,” Ricketts said. “Obviously, that’s a very mathematical, very quantitative market. Yet your success in that market is also determined by your ability to relate to people, understand their needs, and make sure you’re giving them the services they need. You can do all the analysis you want, but you have to keep it in perspective. It’s just one piece of a big puzzle, and it’s still a people business.”

Meredith Siegfried ’07

Siegfried views her employees at the aerospace company as “stakeholders,” and said she finds joy in her work and hopes they do, too. “It’s a real honor to represent the company and our stakeholders,” she said in a feature written on her by Tulsa World . “I really want them to be proud to be part of the company. I want them to be proud of me. I personally look forward to coming to work every day ... and I really hope they feel that way. Work will always be work and sometimes really hard work, but I also want it to be comfortable and fun as much as it can be.”

Michael Small, ’81
President and CEO

The company recently installed its in-flight connectivity and entertainment setup on its 1,500th aircraft. “This is a big milestone for Gogo and it’s obviously big for passengers who want to stay connected at 30,000 feet,” Small said in a March 27 PR Newswire article. “Since 2008 we’ve worked to get Gogo up and running on nine of our airline partners, which represent approximately 87 percent of internet-enabled North American commercial aircraft.”

Avi Stopper, ’07
Cofounder and CEO
Captain U

CaptainU, a website that helps parents and coaches promote student athletes for college recruitment, has become part of Naviance Succeed. Naviance helps students chart their courses, college, and career, and plan for success. “Navigating the NCAA eligibility requirements has always been a challenge for high school athletes and their counselors,” Stopper said in a March 27 PR Newswire article about the change. “The combination of Naviance’s powerful and ubiquitous platform and CaptainU’s technological and college sports expertise makes it much easier for high school athletes to know where they stand, what classes they need to take, and what grades and test scores they need to get to accomplish eligibility.”

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