Alumni Connections - No. 26 - September 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

Air Products:
Wilbur Mok, ’86, has been named president of the firm’s Asia division. Previously, he was president of its operations in China. Headquartered in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, the firm manufactures industrial gases and chemicals.

Altius Minerals Corp.:
Fred Mifflin, ’83, was appointed to the board of directors. The metals mining firm is based in the Canadian city of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. Mifflin is deputy head and chief operating officer for investment and corporate banking at BMO Nesbitt Burns.

Avatech Solutions, Inc.:
Thom Waye, ’96, was named to the board of directors. Based in Baltimore, the firm designs project management software for engineers. Waye is founder of the Sigma Opportunity Fund and managing partner at Sigma Capital Partners LLC.

Bank of New York:
Kenneth Brause, ’92, was appointed managing director and head of investor relations.

BNY ConvergEx Group LLC:
Nicholas Colas, ’91, has been named director of research for its subsidiary, BNY Jaywalk LLC. Based in New York, the firm provides research to investment managers.

CoreNet Global:
Brenda Wisniewski, ’87 (XP-56), has been named chief learning officer of the Atlanta-based professional association, which serves corporation real estate executives.

CRA International, Inc.:
Monica Noether, MBA ’80, PhD ’83, will lead the litigation and applied economics platform at the Boston-based consulting firm, focusing on competition, intellectual property, trade, and transfer pricing.

Crown Media Holdings:
Brian Stewart, ’94, has been promoted to CFO and executive vice president. Based in Studio City, California, the firm owns the Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel. Stewart joined the firm in 2000.

Distributed Energy Systems Corp.:
Peter Tallian, ’82, was named CFO. Based in Wallingford, Connecticut, the company manufactures products for companies that produce alternative energy.

Ener1 Inc.:
Ajit Habbu, ’83, has been named CFO. The alternative energy company is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Ferro Corporation:
Sallie Bailey, ’84, was named CFO and vice president. Based in Cleveland, Ohio, the firm makes colorants used in construction and by manufacturers of such products as cars and household furnishings, as well as fine and industrial chemicals.

Fifth Bank Bancorp:
John Guy Jr., ’76, has been named to lead its business banking operation. Headquartered in Cincinnati, it’s the eleventh-largest bank in the United States.

FTI Consulting, Inc.:
Bruce Burton, ’75, was appointed senior managing director for forensic and litigation practice in the Baltimore-based firm.

Goldman Sachs Group:
Among those recently named partnership managing directors are William Burgess, ’93; Timothy Craighead, ’87; Alexander Davidovich, SB ’94, MBA ’05; Jorg Kukies, PhD ’01; John McGarry, ’93; Scott Norby, ’97; Hideyuki Fred Omokawa, ’92; Charles Park, ’98; Ingrid Tierens, MBA ’95, PhD ’96; and Jill Toporek, ’87.

HydroGen Corp.:
William Jewell, ’65, was named to the advisory board of the firm, which manufactures fuel cell systems and is headquartered in Cleveland.

Mark Wang, AM ’74, MBA ’82, was named to the newly created position of group vice president of the firm’s Asia-Pacific enterprise solutions group. The company, headquartered in Atlanta, is one of the largest providers of enterprise software.

Dwayne Spradlin, AB ’90, MBA ’97, was appointed president and CEO. Based in Andover, Massachusetts, the telecommunications company provides an online platform for scientists and science-based companies to collaborate.

Lipman Hearne:
Ken G Kabira, AB ’85, MBA ’92, has been named executive vice president of branding and consulting services at the Chicago-based advertising agency.

Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc.:
Alan Bieler, ’91, was named treasurer. Headquartered in New York, the firm is the world’s largest insurance broker.

Overture Films:
Chris McGurk, ’82, has been named CEO. The film studio and production company, owned by Starz LLC media company, is set to make up to a dozen movies each year for distribution on cable, DVD, and the Internet, among other channels.

Strategic Account Management Association:
Bernard Quancard, ’69, has been named president and CEO. Based in Chicago, the nonprofit organization promotes professional development for executives who manage customer relationships.

Total Quality Logistics:
Mike Zins, ’91, has joined as CFO. Based in Milford, Ohio, the firm is a third-party logistics provider for the freight industry.

University of Tennessee Board of Trustees:
Charles Wharton, ’70, has been named citizen representative. Wharton is president and CEO of Poplar Creek Farms, LLC, a diversified holding company with operations including land development, timber interests, and agricultural activities.

Vulcanium Corp.:
Rick Piacenza, ’95 (XP-64), has been named director of sales. Based in Northbrook, Illinois, the firm manufactures corrosion-resistant products and fabrications for plating, anodizing, and chemical processing.

Weight Watchers:
David Kirchhoff, ’94, is to become president, CEO, and a member of the board of directors as of December 31. Kirchoff currently is president and CEO of and chief operating officer for Europe and Asia.

Alumni to Know

A native of Belarus, Pavel Begun, ’03, has been interested in business since the age of five, noted a story in the Bowling Green [Kentucky] Daily News. At 14, he worked in sales for a newspaper and earned a 20 percent commission, but he wanted to earn more and started selling steel bars to concrete manufacturers as a mediator for buyers and sellers, keeping the markup for himself, the paper said. “Anytime I had to go meet anybody in person, I would just say the boss sent me,” Begun said. At age 17, he launched a newspaper that helped accountants understand finance laws. Begun won a scholarship to attend Western Kentucky University, sold his newspaper to a large publishing house, and left Belarus, the Daily News said. After earning his MBA, Belarus created 3G Capital Management, which has offices in St. Louis and Toronto.

Arturo Elias, ’84, was described as a “rising star north of the border” in a November article in Hispanic Business Magazine. Named president and managing director of General Motors of Canada, the story said, “Mr. Elias plays a key role in GM’s own turnaround effort as a member of the influential North American Strategy Board.” Elias joined the automaker in 1978, worked as a manufacturing engineer at Delco Electronics (now part of the independent Delphi Corp., one of GM’s largest suppliers). The article noted that he “worked his way through a variety of GM operations, both home and abroad, serving as a senior analyst with the GM treasurer’s office and spending several years as managing director of operations in Chile, Peru, and Bolivia.”

Michael Larson, ’81, who oversees the personal wealth of Bill Gates and manages money for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was featured in stories in Dow Jones Business News and the Toronto Globe and Mail in November. At Cascade Investment LLC, which houses Bill Gates Investments, Dow Jones said, “Larson’s main goal is to diversify Gates’s wealth away from the technology bias of his large Microsoft stake. He’s done that mostly through bonds. But Cascade also has at least $3 billion invested in ‘old econoomy’ stockes, which have outperformed the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index this year. Larson’s record managing the foundation’s money is also impressive for a money manager whose marching orders are to carefully and steadily build up the organization’s philanthropic vault. Returns averaged 8.53 percent a year from 1999 through 2005, exceeding his 5 percent annual target.” The Globe and Mail quoted Ross Beaty, chairman of Vancouver-based Pan American Silver Corp., where Larson sits on the board of directors, who called Larson “a very pleasant guy, low key, smart, very discreet.” Beaty said, “If he has something to say, he says it; it doesn’t matter whether he thinks it’s going to be well received.”

Chris McGurk, '82, has become CEO of Overture Films, a production company funded by John Malone, the billionaire owner of Liberty Media.  McGurk and fellow entertainment veteran Danny Rosett will make eight to 12 live-action movies a year for the Starz cable channel. According to the LA Times, McGurk, a former PepsiCo executive, is part of a trend of studio executives starting companies when the rest of the industry is retrenching because of financial constraints. Known for his business skills, McGurk looks forward to the “….opportunity to build something from the ground up and really try to do it the right way."

Eric Nielsen, ’88, the president and CEO of Volvo Construction Equipment Korea and Volvo Group Korea, was credited for successful transition of the company in a November 7 article in the Korea Times. “Using the same manpower and infrastructure used by Samsung, Volvo was able to turn Samsung’s money-losing construction equipment business into a cash cow because of focused management,” the Times said. Volvo acquired Samsung’s construction business in 1998. “The unit became a global manufacturing and research base for Volvo’s excavator business. Both the sales and profits have soared,” the article said. Nielson was appointed CEO in 2000. “You learn a lot very quickly here,” he told the Times. “If you can survive in Korean business, I think you can survive anywhere.”

Five months after being named top administrator at U.S. Small Business Administration Steven Preston, ’85, realized the agency needed to redesign its disaster-loans process for home and business owners to speed it up, according to a story in the November 14 Biloxi, Mississippi, Sun Herald. He spoke to the paper after touring the coast to see the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina. “Preston said he his changing the loan procedure to make it more responsive and to incorporate case managers who are assigned to borrowers throughout the loan process,” the paper said. Preston told the Sun Herald, “Before I took the job, I Googled SBA, read the stories, and got a pit in my stomach. Right now, there’s just too many layers to get a pipeline to what I need to know.” He said he was gratified to be able to help some people. “But the toughest days are talking to people who have already been through so much and we are making it harder for them.”

Christine Schuster, ’89, was appointed to the board of the Massachusetts Health and Educational Facilities Authority. Schuster, who also has an RN degree, is the president and CEO of Emerson Hospital in Concord. HEFA provides low-cost funds to non-profit organizations in healthcare, higher education, science and the arts. It is one of the largest issuers of tax-exempt bonds in the country which provided $1.2 billion last year for capital needs. With her business and hospital backgrounds, Schuster “has a unique perspective in healthcare and is a wonderful addition to the HEFA team” said Governor Mitt Romney.

George Tanasijevich, EXP ’01, is heading the development of the multi-billion dollar Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore. The project, the city’s first integrated resort and casino, is the result of a partnership between the Las Vegas Sands and the Singapore government. The goal of the development is to double tourism. Plans call for three hotel towers with 2,500 rooms, a 200,000-square foot arts and sciences museum and a convention centre with 1.2 million square feet of space, capable of accommodating over 52,000 people. The company has promised to create 10,400 jobs for the project, 75 percent of them reserved for Singaporeans

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