Alumni Connections - No. 55 - February 2009

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

American Apparel Inc.
Adrian Kowalewski, '06, has been promoted to CFO from director of corporate financing and development. The Los Angeles-based company makes casual clothing.

BioCryst Pharmaceuticals
Stanley Erck, '76, has been elected to the board of directors. Based in Birmingham, Alabama, the company makes enzyme blocking drugs. Erck is the former president and CEO of Iomai, which was bought out by Intercell.

BioEnergy International, LLC
Cary Veith, '00 (XP-69), has been appointed vice president, research and development. The biotech company is based in Quincy, Massachusetts.

Laura Cathlina, '08, has joined as vice president in the firm's Chicago mortgage banking office. The international real estate and investment firm is headquartered in Horsham, Pennsylvania.

Consumer Bankers Association
Shelaghmichael Brown, '75, has been elected to the board of directors. Based in Arlington, Virginia, the association represents retail banking interests in Washington, DC. Brown is senior executive vice president of retail banking at BBVA Compass.

Eagle Rock Energy Partners, L.P.
Jeffrey Wood, '01, has been appointed senior vice president and CFO. The natural gas company is based in Houston.

Fifth Third Bancorp
Marsha Williams, '76, has been appointed to the board of directors. Based in Cincinnati, the financial services company runs 18 affiliates with more than 1,300 banking centers. Williams is senior vice president and CFO of Orbitz Worldwide, Inc.

First Industrial Reality Trust, Inc.
Scott Musil, '98, has been named acting CFO. Musil is chief accounting officer at the Chicago-based industrial real estate company.

General Cable Corporation
Lance Bates, '03 (XP-72), has joined as vice president, U.S. sales. Based in Highland Heights, Kentucky, the company supplies wire and cable products to the energy, industrial, specialty, and communications markets.

Marathon Data Systems
Chris Sullens, '99, has been promoted to president from CFO. Based in Wall Township, New Jersey, the firm offers office management and automation software for service industries.

Micrel Inc.
Ray Wallin, '79, has been appointed vice president of finance and CFO. The company makes semiconductors and integrated circuits and is based in San Jose, California.

Janet Linden Cooper, '82, has been named to the board of directors. Based in Broomfield, Colorado, the company offers environmental engineering, construction, and strategic consulting services. Cooper previously served as CFO of McDATA Corporation and as senior vice president and treasurer of Qwest Communications.

Olin Corporation
Gary Benoist, '78, was elected to the board of directors. Based in Clayton, Missouri, the company makes chemicals, bleach, and ammunition. Benoist is CFO and vice president, finance, at Belden, Inc.

Piper Jaffray
Victor Caruso, '72, has joined as managing director in the New York office. The international middle market investment bank and institutional securities firm is headquartered in Minneapolis.

Prime Therapeutics
Steven Blumenfield, '94, has joined as chief marketing officer. Based in St. Paul, Minnesota, the firm manages pharmacy benefits for such clients as Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, employer and union groups, and third party administrators.

Stone Energy Corporation
Peter Kinnear, '71, has been appointed to the board of directors. The independent oil and natural gas company is headquartered in Lafayette, Louisiana. Kinnear is president, CEO, and chairman of the board of directors of FMC Technologies, Inc.

Stone & Youngberg
Robert Desmond, '97, has joined as a vice president in the taxable fixed income group in Chicago. Headquartered in San Francisco, the firm offers financial services.

XOMA, Ltd.
Fred Kurland, MBA '76, JD '76, has been appointed CFO and vice president, finance. The biopharmaceutical company is based in Berkeley, California.

Alumni to Know

George Aspland, AB '97, MBA '08, was quoted in a January 1 New York Times article about a new business he has founded with Scott Roberts, '08, and Adam Rodnitzky, '08. Their company, ReTel Technologies, uses new software for videoing and analyzing shoppers and their shopping patterns. "For a lot of retailers, the extent of the data they have is isolated to the statistics from their cash registers," Aspland said. ReTel Technologies gives stores "new information about how product placement and the interactions of their employees lead shoppers to make a purchase." Last year, the three won a $50,000 grant for best new business plan from the Illinois Venture Capital Association. A supermarket in Hyde Park is testing the software, the Times said.

Soujanya Bhumkar, '99, is part of a partnership that started, a Web browsing tool that allows users to rapidly scan online images and video, according to a January 4 article in the New York Times. The accessory "transforms the browser into a shiny, black 3-D wall and scross bar. Tap the bar and you're zooming past an endless assortment of images that, when clicked, take you to the web pages on which they typically appear," the Times wrote. Founded three years ago, the startup has 30 full-time employees and 20 interns, the article said.

Karl Keller, '76 (XP-36), has been honored for his "organizational and visionary work with a task force to end homelessness," according to a December 9 article in the Ventura County Star. Keller, volunteer chair of the Ventura Social Service Task Force, received the Citizen of the Year Poinsettia Award from the Ventura Chamber of Commerce. Keller told the Star, "The results I'm proud of are actually the sum of the efforts of many other inspired people working together."

In a December 5 article in Financial Week, Ann Rutledge, '85, cofounder of R&R Consulting, discusses new SEC accountability rules designed to change practices that led to the financial crisis. "The market has barely taken note of the SEC action because its impact is so limited," Rutledge told Financial Week. The article explained how the new rules prevent companies from "rating debt that they helped to structure." Rutledge also commented on one new rule about rating agencies who are paid by issuers. The rating agencies must disclose a random sample of 10 percent of those ratings within six months. Rutledge said disclosure comes too far after the fact to be of much value and that companies can get around the rule by choosing a sample that offers the most favorable reflection of themselves, the article said. "There are simple ways to game the system," she said. "And nothing the SEC has proposed defeats any of these."

Meredith Siegfried, '07, chief operating officer of the repair group for The Nordam Group, is featured in a January 5 article about her family's business in the Oklahoma City Journal Record. Nordam, headquartered in Tulsa, is a global aerospace corporation started by Siegfried's father 40 years ago, the article said. "My brothers and I used to play in (his) office," she said. "When you grow up around it, it's part of your life every day. You hear about it at home, on the weekends." Siegfried told the newspaper her job is not an obligation but instead is "like a devotion, like a priest that has a calling." She has held several operating positions, including vice president of global sales and North American operations, the article said. "We just don't build parts, we fly people--our parts are on airplanes," Siegfried said. "We are flying families, and that is important. I have always enjoyed what Nordam meant and really enjoyed that it has a long history associated with the family."

Massimo Baldini, '03, president of Myine Electronics LLC, was set to present two new products at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, according to a WWJ Newsradio 950 story posted online January 5. The products were the Abbee Commercial-Free FM Radio and the Ira Wi-Fi Internet Radio. The Abbee automatically records music of the user's favorite FM stations while removing commercials and DJ talk, the article said. The Ira "is designed to harness the universe of radio broadcasts available on the Internet and to allow user enjoyment anywhere a Wi-Fi connection, a speaker system, and a power source are available," the article said.

Benjamin Riensche, '89, a corn and soybeans farmer in Iowa, was featured in a December 30 article in the Wall Street Journal. The article talked about recent price upheavals. Riensche told how he may face a loss in 2009 for the first time in 16 years, with falling revenue and high costs of seed, fertilizer, and machinery. Now he must guess whether crop prices will increase. "I never thought the stakes could get so big," Riensche told the newspaper. "We've gone from the nickel slots to world-class poker." Formerly in the banking business, he came home to run the family farm in 1993 after his brother died in a harvesting accident, the article said. "We are taking a big leap of faith," Riensche said, while examining commodity price charts on his computer. "We are praying for a change in the markets."

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