Alumni Connections - No. 25 - August 2006

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

Baird Capital Partners:
Steven Warner, ’97
, has joined as a vice president to the buyout fund’s business services team, based in its Chicago office. BCP is an affiliate of investment firm Robert W. Baird & Co. Previously Warner worked in private equity for eight years at GE Capital.

Cantata Technology:
Andrew Bezaitis, ’94
, has been appointed senior vice president, business development for the communications hardware and software provider. Based in Needham, Massachusetts, Cantata was established this year when Brooktrout Technology merged with Excel Switching Corporation. Bezaitis was founder and CEO of Apopleo, Inc., a Chicago-based consulting firm.

Carleton College:
Richard Kracum, SM ’78, MBA ’80
, has been appointed trustee at his alma mater in Northfield, Minnesota. Kracum is managing director of Wind Point Partners, a private equity firm with offices in Chicago and Southfield, Michigan. He also is chairman of the board at Worldwide Sports and Recreation Inc.

Chicago Metallic Corporation:
Sandra Wilson, ’83
, has been named president and CEO of the privately held manufacturer of ceiling systems, headquartered in Chicago. The company also has manufacturing plants and sales offices in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Wilson previously served as president of CMC’s North American business.

Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration:
Michael Johnson, MBA ’80, PhD ’83
, is the new dean at the hospitality management school in Ithaca, New York. Johnson was D. Maynard Phelps collegiate professor of business administration and marketing professor at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Johnson also served as director of the Center for Customer-Focused Management in Executive Education. He spent 24 years at Michigan.

Deephaven Capital Management LLC:
Jeff Golbus, ’98
, has been named portfolio manager of the distressed fund at the Minneapolis-based hedge fund, which manages more than $3 billion.

Fifth Third Bancorp:
Mahesh Sankaran, ’85
, has been appointed treasurer of the bank, which is headquartered in Cincinnati. Previously he was treasurer at Huntington Bancshares in Columbus, Ohio, where he was responsible for investment portfolio management, liquidity and funding, and interest rate risk management.

Flight Options, LLC:
Bruce Boyle, ’75
, has been named CFO. A subsidiary of Raytheon, the company provides fractional ownership in business aircraft, leasing, and JetPASS Ultimate Travel membership. It has a fleet of about 165 aircraft, including the world’s largest fleets of Beechjet 400As and Legacy Executives. Boyle previously was CFO for SMART Papers.

Forensicon, Inc:
Jason H. McDannold, ’05
, joins Forensicon as Managing Director. Forensicon, Inc., the largest Chicago-based provider of computer forensic services specializing in Employment Litigation, Trade Secrets and Internal Investigations.

Dafydd Silcock, ’93
, has joined the firm in Plano, Texas, as senior group manager, change leadership. He will implement transformation initiatives within the supply chain. Previously he spent 10 years as a change management consultant.

Arthur J. Gallagher:
David Battman, ’04 (AXP-3)
, has been named to the new post of director of international development and strategy for the insurance broker’s global risks division. Battman will be based in the firm’s London office.


General Motors of Canada:
Arturo Elias, ’84
, has been named president and general manager of the largest company in Canada. Elias attended the GSB on a GM fellowship.

ICO, Inc.:
Warren Wilder, ’82
, has been elected to the board of directors for a two-year term. Wilder is senior vice president for Westlake Chemical Corporation. Headquartered in Houston, the company produces custom polymer powders.

Metropolitan Planning Council:
Rob McCloskey, ’06
, has been promoted to vice president of finance and administration for the non-profit group of business and civic leaders in metropolitan Chicago. McCloskey previously served as manager of operations.

Penwest Pharmaceuticals Co.:
Benjamin Palleiko, MBA ’96, AM ’96
, has joined the company as CFO and senior vice president, corporate development. Based in Danbury, Connecticut, the firm primarily develops products that treat nervous system disorders. Palleiko founded Intrepid Merchant Partners LLC, a merchant bank that offered financial and strategic advice to health care companies.

PRG-Schultz International, Inc.:
N. Lee White, ’79
, has been appointed executive vice president, U.S., of the world’s largest recovery audit firm, which is headquartered in Atlanta. White was chief operating officer of Zyman Group, a business and growth strategy consulting firm. He is a board member at CommerceQuest and serves on the Technology Advisory Council of Dartmouth College.

RLI Corp.:
Barbara Allen, ’77
, has been appointed to the board of directors of the Peoria, Illinois–based specialty insurance company. Allen is president of Tennis Corporation of America, professional services. She had spent more than 20 years with Quaker Oats Company in a variety of marketing and executive management roles.

Shure Incorporated:
Ron Thompson, ’83
, has been named vice president of operations. Based in Niles, Illinois, the company manufactures microphones and other sound equipment. Previously, Thompson was senior director of manufacturing.

Alumni to Know

A former Army captain and reservist with a West Point engineering degree, Jim Bland, ’06, told G.I. Jobs that obtaining an MBA was crucial to his success. “The military fosters great strategic thinking,” Bland said in an April article. “But the one skill that was noticeably absent on my resume was financial skills. The MBA was almost a necessity. I wouldn’t have been taken seriously.” As a student, he worked part time as an investment associate at Hispania Capital Partners, a private equity firm targeting small to mid-market companies employing Hispanics. Bland also co-chaired the student-led Armed Force Group, sat on the GSB’s admissions committee, and belonged to a board of advisors to West Point’s board of trustees.

Norman Bobins, ’67, always expected he would work in his family’s company, a Chicago-based manufacturer of men’s belts, tie bars, and tie clips, he told the Chicago Tribune in a July 19 profile. But upon graduation from the GSB, his dad and uncle suggested he work with a bank to get financial experience. He went from running errands as an assistant to American National Bank Chairman Allan Stolz to becoming chairman and CEO of LaSalle Bank Corp. in 1997. Bobins is now chief executive of ABN Amro North America. Having worked at the family business helped Bobins relate to customers. “Too often bankers are finance majors, guys who are afraid to get their hands dirty,” he told the Tribune. “They’ve never had to get a shipment out on time or have a delivery truck break down on the way to a major client.” Rread a profile of Bobins that appeared in ChicagoGSB.

Betsy Burton, '75, has hit the ground running, in terms of turning around the company, as new Zale Corp. president and CEO. "It's simply going back to our roots. Recognizing our customer is really Middle America. Recognizing that our customer looks at Zale as 'The Diamond Store,'" Burton told National Jeweler Magazine in a July 27 story. Ms. Burton had been serving as interim Chief Executive Officer since February 1, 2006.

Zale is largest specialty retailer of fine jewelry in North America. Burton has gained reputation as a retail turnaround specialist. She has served as interim CEO to several companies including Tower Records and

Joe Cantwell, ’96 , discusses the developing market for downloadable movies in a June 19 article on Cantwell is vice president of marketing for Starz Entertainment Group, which offers Vongo, a subscription-based video download service. In the first of such agreements, Starz and Toshiba America Consumer Products partnered to bring downloadable movies to portable handheld media players—specifically, Toshiba’s revamped line of “gigabeat” portable media players. Stars expects to announce at least one more deal with other makers of portable handheld devices, Cantwell said.

Believing that poor women can be successful entrepreneurs, Sheila Hooda, ’88, has helped guide the International Alliance of Women toward making loans to 10,000 women in South India. The nonprofit alliance consists of bankers, lawyers, and other professionals who raise funds for micro-lending. “We opened up 25 micro-credit banks in 25 countries,” said Hooda, managing director in equities at Credit Suisse, in a July 8 article in Daily News & Analysis. “Now the organization is happy to be in India and partnering with SKS Microfinance.” The loans went to basket weavers, farmers, and even beekeepers, the article said. “Once women become economically independent, their children get a better education and improved health care and the family escapes the poverty trap,” Hooda said.

Mike Jakob, ’94, chief operating officer and CFO of Chicago-based Sportvision, said his company has employed technological advancements that have changed the way a variety of sports are viewed, from the glowing hockey puck on Fox Sports 10 years ago to the flags “painted” graphically on the speed skating lanes for the Winter Olympics in Torino. A “moderately successful” effect was a tennis tracker at Wimbledon that showed how far players ran each set and match. “You realize how physically demanding it is to sprint six to seven miles,” Jakob said in an ePrairie article June 20. “When we think about [tackling] new effects, there are three main criteria: it has to be hard to see, it needs to happen a lot, and it has to be important to the outcome. The distance tennis players ran wasn’t a key element of the sport. The first-and-ten line is vitally important to a football game. We don’t get the ideas right 100 percent of the time. You have to have a few hits and misses.”

Mark Kiesel, ’96, portfolio manager at Newport Beach, California–based Pacific Investment Management Co. (Pimco), has found success with credit default swaps—“agreements to exchange a stream of periodic payments for a lump-sum outlay in the event of a default,” he said in a July article in Bloomberg Markets. “We tend to be opportunistic sellers of protection,” Kiesel said. “When there are more people in the market looking to buy protection than to sell protection, we’ll take the other side of the trade when spreads are really wide.” Pimco started selling protection against default by Ford and GM finance arms in 2005. Kiesel heads its corporate bond desk, which manages $60 billion.

Chakara Sisowath, ’92, managing director of Comgest Far East, has an investment strategy so sound, he doesn’t worry about fluctuations of oil prices or wars in the Middle East, according to a July 9 article in the South China Morning Post. He said his analysts avoid speculation and look for companies that have a simple business model, use technology to gain a competitive advantage, and set a high entry barrier within their industry. “Once we identify those companies with distinct advantages we also look at the way they can defend their positions for three or four years against would-be competitors,” Sisowath told the Morning Post. When picking stocks he “disregards geopolitics, economic climates and geographical borders,” the article said. “We offer an investment channel that is geared towards investors looking at ways to build their assets for retirement or long-term financial goals,” Sisowath said.

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