Alumni Connections - No. 43 - February 2008

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

ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Laura Brege, ’82,
has been elected to the board as a Class III director. The San Diego, California–based company discovers and develops treatments for nervous system disorders. Brege is executive vice president and chief operating officer of Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Agora SA
Zbigniew Bak, ’97,
has been nominated to the management board of the media company, which is headquartered in Warsaw, Poland. Bak oversees the company’s outdoor and magazines operations as well as its new business development and corporate sales divisions.

Alvarez & Marsal
Kevin Kuby, ’96,
has joined as a senior director based in the firm’s Chicago headquarters. The consulting firm focuses on turnaround and restructuring, interim and crisis management, performance and process improvement, transactions, and mergers and acquisition.

AMCOL International Corp.
Donald Pearson, ’00,
was named vice president and CFO. Headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois, the company makes specialty mineral products.

Henk Talpaert, ’02,
was named strategic development manager and is based out of the firm’s office in Zaventem, Belgium. The packaging company is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia.

Aon Corporation
Gregory Besio, ’89,
has been named chief administrative officer. Besio also serves as executive vice president, global strategy, at the Chicago-based insurance and management consulting firm.

Calumet Photographic
Brendan Sullivan, ’07 (XP-76),
has been named chief marketing officer, group director. Based in Chicago, Illinois, the company retails high-end photographic and video equipment.

Cantel Medical Corp.
Andrew Krakauer, ’77,
has been promoted to president and member of the office of the chairman. Krakauer had been chief operating officer and executive vice president. Based in Little Falls, New Jersey, the company makes dialysis devices and disposable infection control products.

Codon Devices, Inc.
Kareem Saad, ’04,
has been named vice president, marketing and business development. The biotechnology company is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Crescat Capital
Kevin Smith, ’92,
has become chief investment officer while Daniel Hoskins, ’92,and Claiborne Booker, ’92, have become the other principals. Based in Denver, Colorado, the alternative investment management firm resulted from the merger of Smith Portfolio Management, which Smith founded in 1999, and Crescat Partners, which was established in 1985. The new entity manages three funds Crescat Global Macro, a theme-driven global macro hedge fund; Crescat Long/Short, an all-cap long/short equity hedge fund; and Crescat Large Cap, a long-only, large-cap equity separately managed account strategy.

High Street Equity Advisors, LLC
Andy Zgutowicz, ’05,
has joined as senior vice president of national accounts. The Boston, Massachusetts–based real estate company focuses on institutional-grade investments.

InnerWorkings, Inc.
Eric Belcher, ’95,
has been promoted to president. He also will continue as chief operating officer of the Chicago-based printing procurement company.

Integral Systems, Inc.
Richard Wathen, ’86,
has joined as vice president of mergers and acquisitions. Based in Lanham, Maryland, the company provides satellite ground systems and support.

Kaiser Aluminum
Daniel Rinkenberger, ’85,
has been appointed senior vice president and CFO. Headquartered in Foothill Ranch, California, the company makes fabricated aluminum products.

Louisiana Recovery Authority
Jas Gill, ’84 (XP-53),
has been appointed to the board of directors for the agency, which works to secure funding and other resources for redevelopment and planning in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Gill is the former president of Cytec Industries Inc.

Natural Health Trends Corp.
Stefan Zuckut, ’90,
has been appointed chairman of the audit committee of the board of directors. Based in Dallas, Texas, the company markets personal care products worldwide. Zuckut is vice president, corporate development, at Blade Network Technologies, Inc., headquartered in Santa Clara, California.

Neterion, Inc.
Ray Wallin, ’79,
has been appointed CFO. Based in Cupertino, California, the firm makes Ethernet adapters.

Pine Creek Partners
David Robertson, ’00,
has joined the middle-market private equity firm in Washington, DC.

Reckitt Benckiser España
Kavitha Sekhar, ’07,
has joined as a junior brand manager in the firm’s office in Barcelona, Spain. The company makes household, health care, and personal care products. Sekhar was named to the surface care team and markets such products at Cillit Bang and VitroClen throughout Spain.

SonoSite, Inc.
Bernard Pitz, ’98 (XP-65),
has joined as senior vice president and CFO. Headquartered in Bothell, Washington, the company makes hand-carried ultrasound equipment.

Transdel Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Paul Finnegan, ’98 (XP-65),
has been appointed chief medical officer and chief operating officer. The specialty pharmaceutical company is based in La Jolla, California.

Zebra Technologies Corporation
Michael Smiley, ’89,
has been appointed CFO. Headquartered in Vernon Hills, Illinois, the company makes bar code printers and scanners.

Alumni to Know

Vicki Avril, '83, was featured among this year's "Women to Watch" by Crain's ChicagoBusiness on May 5. Avril, senior vice president of the tubular division at Ipsco Inc., has worked her way up the corporate ladder in the male-dominated steel industry. "Wanting to take on new challenges is part of what has made me successful," Avril told Crain's. Faced with rising steel prices, Ipsco's parent company, SSAB Svenskt A.B. of Sweden, is selling her division to Evraz Group S.A., a Russian steel and mining company, leaving Avril uncertain about her job status when the deal closes in June, the article said. "Regardless of the outcome, she is sure to continue making a mark on the industry," the article said.

Karen Case, '86, was featured among this year's "Women to Watch" by Crain's ChicagoBusiness on May 5. The president of commercial real estate lending at PrivateBancorp Inc., Case is no stranger to building a banking business, according to Crain's. In 1985 for Marine Midland Bank, she grew a Chicago office from scratch to seven bankers and $500 million in real estate business in four years, the article said. She was executive vice president in the commercial real estate department at LaSalle Bank when she was recruited by PrivateBancorp Inc. to build its commercial real estate lending market. "It was the opportunity to build a business, to pick and lead my own team. I couldn't resist," Case told Crain's. She joined in October and then recruited 16 of her colleagues. "By mid-March, Ms. Case's team had brought PrivateBank some $500 million in new commercial real estate business, increasing its portfolio by 36 percent," the article said.

Garry Jensen, '90, and his wife have started an online home décor shop, Deeply Madly Living, according to a November 29 feature in the New York Times. The article described how the couple left investment banking and created a business selling unusual products for the home. He told the Times, "We have identified some provocative items that we consider cool and edgy and truly original as accent pieces that will help to reinvent someone's home and turn it into something interesting for the mind and eye," such as a $350 decorative ceramic skull with a bullet hole in the temple, plated in platinum or gold. "Some pieces just caught our attention and have a bit of a bad attitude, maybe my rebellious attitude," Jensen told the paper.

Daniel Johnson, '96, was named as a top hedge fund analyst in the February edition of Institutional Investor's Alpha. Johnson, who works for Citadel Investment Group, was ranked the number-one analyst in the financial institutions sector. He said that while declining premiums and a distressed credit market are expected to continue, opportunities always emerge "when a market bids all companies in a sector up or down equally. In these situations, good returns come from owning reasonably priced companies with quality management, good distribution, and strong balance sheets." The article also said that in addition to his "strong investment track record, the depth of Johnson's knowledge of the insurance industry and his willingness to share his insights with the Street impress sell-side analysts."

A book written by G. R. Kearney, '07, More Than a Dream The Cristo Rey Story: How One School's Vision is Changing the World, was reviewed by the Chicago Tribune on April 12. "In a lively narrative style, Kearney takes us back to the early '90s when the Jesuit order, known for creating high-quality educational institutions, offered to assume responsibility for a poor, predominantly Hispanic parish in the Pilsen community," the article said. "Following the time-tested approach used by community organizers, the Jesuits asked the residents of the parish to identify their greatest need. The answer came back loud and clear: a good high school." The Jesuits came up with a plan where students work to pay off a substantial portion of their tuition, the article said. Kearney taught at Cristo Rey for two years.

Jim Oberweis, '03 (XP-72), president and lead portfolio manager of Oberweis Asset Management and president of The Oberweis Funds, expounded on small-cap strategies in an April 22 article in "Despite horrific results for small growth stocks in the past six or seven months, I think they're very well positioned going forward on a prospective basis," Oberweis said. Perhaps once in a decade, "uncertainty and fear in the marketplace" push down valuations where even modest improvement in an economic outlook "can dramatically shift the momentum of stock prices," he said. "Valuations have been pushed down to a point where there are above-average opportunities now with our universe of smaller, high-growth companies."

Peter Peterson, '51, cofounder and senior chairman, Blackstone Group, was one of 19 "accomplished people" featured in a May 12 article in Fortune about the best advice they ever got. Peterson said his advice came from the late free-markets guru Milton Friedman, whose class he took at the GSB. Friedman was a "powerful advocate of Adam Smith's concept of comparative advantage: Focus on those things you do better than others," Peterson told Fortune. "That has been enormously helpful in defining our business strategies." For example, contrary to many people's advice for Blackstone to initially invest in hostile leveraged buyouts, Blackstone chose to "only do strictly friendly investments," Peterson said. "As a result, so-called corporate partnerships have become a major foundation-and a very profitable contribution-to our business."

Thomas Friedman's April 30 op-ed column on improving the country's energy policy in the New York Times featured Michael Polsky, '87, founder of Invenergy, one of the biggest wind developers in the United States. Polsky bemoaned the lack of federal investment tax credits to stimulate investment in alternative energy. "It's a disaster," Polsky told Friedman. "Wind is a very capital-intensive industry, and financial institutions are not ready to take 'Congressional risk.' They say if you don't get the [production tax credit] we will not lend you the money to buy more turbines and build projects." Friedman wrote, "These credits are critical because they ensure that if oil prices slip back down again - which often happens - investments in wind and solar would still be profitable. That's how you launch a new energy technology and help it achieve scale, so it can compete without subsidies."

Steve Preston, '85, has been nominated by President Bush to become U.S. Secretary of Housing. He currently heads the Small Business Administration. According to an April 19 story in the Washington Times, Bush said, "In seeking to fill this important Cabinet post, I looked for a leader with an impressive background in finance; someone who understands the important role the housing market plays in the broader economy."

Mark Sander, senior vice president of Midwest commercial banking at Bank of America, "makes good use of his competitive streak," according to a feature in the May 11 ChicagoTribune. Sander, who runs a $17 billion business making commercial and industrial loans in six states to businesses with annual sales of $2 million to $2 billion, competes with smaller rivals for clients, now that BofA has acquired LaSalle Bank. "People have this perception that BofA just likes the large corporate business, but we're the country's leading middle-market bank," Sander told the Tribune. While other banks, particularly PrivateBankcorp, have snatched some clients, Sander said his unit has added $700 million in loans since year's end. "We've more than offset what we've lost" to other banks, he told the paper.

Jeffrey Skelton, MBA '77, PhD '80, founding principal of Symphony Asset Management, discussed Symphony's central investment philosophy in an April 28 article in Pensions & Investments. Skelton described it as a "mixture of quantitative and qualitative" that recognized "certain weaknesses in a purely quantitative approach and certainly strengths in a fundamental approach. Both paradigms are capable of producing good results, (and) if you can find a way to put them together in a process that somehow extracts the strengths of both of them, then you are more likely to achieve the desired outcome-that mystical alpha or added value."

The story said, "Inspired by his studied under world-famous finance professors like Eugene Fama, MBA '63, PhD '64, Merton Miller and Myron Scholes, MBA '64, PhD '70. Mr. Skelton pursued an academic career at University of California, Berkeley." But the head of Wells Fargo Investment Advisors persuaded him to switch to money management." Mr. Skelton rose through the ranks at the quantitative shop to become chief executive of the firm's London office," the story said.

Myron Scholes, MBA '64, PhD '70, has ranked in the Wall Street Journal's Top 20 "most influential business thinkers." Scholes tied for the 20th position, according to the May 5 article.

Bernard Yeung, MBA '81, PhD '84, has been named dean of the National University of Singapore Business School. Yeung told the Business Times that one of his goals is to elevate the school to a "world-class standard," according to a May 10 story. "The world is reorienting its economics toward Asia," he told the paper. "In my opinion, we need to have a school that can deliver research and teaching that meets local needs and is not Euro- or U.S.-centric, which we just transcribe over here. We need to have our own homegrown capabilities."

Yeung, whose three-year appointment began in June, was previously the Abraham Krasnoff Professor in Global Business at New York University's Stern School of Business, where he taught for nine years.

CEO Watch: Taking the Lead

François Brown de Colstoun, ’03 (AXP-2)
President and CEO, Lingua et Machina

The firm, an enterprise software editor, specializes in two products: one for corporate, technical, or web translations, the other for such large documents as contracts, annual reports, technical manuals, and government submissions. The company is based in Laval Cedex, France.

Lawrence Thomas, ’91
President and CEO, Primet Precision Materials

The nanotechnology firm, a venture-based start-up, is based in Ithaca, New York.

CEO Watch: Making Headlines

Tom Ricketts, AB ’88, MBA ’93
CEO, Incapital

The auction of the Chicago Cubs professional baseball team may be on hold, but the bond business is going full bore, according to an article in the May edition of BW Chicago that named Ricketts as a potential buyer of the National League team. Ricketts is CEO of Incapital, a bond wholesaling business he launched seven years ago. "Business is picking up as investors turn to long-term corporate bonds as alternatives to nerve-wracking stocks and lower-yielding Treasuries," the story said. "Just two months ago, he doubled Incapital’s fee income to an estimated $55 million by buying his biggest rival, LaSalle Bank’s Broker Dealer Services Division," the story said. The purchase, which closed in March, increased Incapital’s customer base from 700 to about 800, and its pool of brokers and financial advisers from 15,000 to more than 40,000, the article said.

Submit information about yourself or fellow alumni to