Alumni Connections - No. 83 - June 2011

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

Anacor Pharmaceuticals
William Rieflin, ’88,
has been appointed to the board of directors. The biopharmaceutical company is headquartered in Palo Alto, California. Rieflin is CEO of NGM Biopharmaceuticals.

American Planning Association
Ann Simms, ’90 (EX-59),
has been named chief operating officer. Based in Chicago, the independent nonprofit educational organization offers leadership in the development of communities.

Aon Risk Solutions
Carol Murphy, ’99 (XP-68),
has been named to lead the newly created loss portfolio transactions practice. Murphy is a managing director based in Aon’s world headquarters in Chicago. Aon Risk Solutions is the global risk management business of Aon Corporation, an insurance and management consulting firm.

Aviva USA
Joseph Wittrock, ’06,
has been named chief investment officer. Headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa, the insurance and indexed annuities firm is part of Aviva plc.

David Khoo, ’89,
has joined as managing director, Asia-Pacific financial institutions group. The bank and financial services firm is headquartered in New York.

Eden Strategy Institute, LLP
Calvin Chu Yee Ming, ’09 (AXP-8),
has been named managing partner. Based in Singapore, the social innovation firm offers management consulting, industry research, training, and venture philanthropy services to multinational organizations in the Asia-Pacific area.

ESCO Corporation
Ray Verlinich, ’79,
has been promoted to vice president of finance and CFO from vice president and corporate controller. Based in Portland, Oregon, the company makes products for mining, infrastructure, and aerospace industries.

Jefferies Group
Paul Kopsky, ’02 (XP-71),
has been appointed managing director in the military housing mortgage business. The global securities and investment banking firm is headquartered in New York.

Luminosity Marketing
Kimberly Conon, ’10,
has joined as senior manager, strategy and analysis. Based in New York, the marketing and communications firm specializes in target audience definition, message framing, and connection strategy.

Medley Capital LLC
Robert Comizio, ’93,
has been named partner and senior portfolio manager for the credit strategy group. Medley recently acquired the credit hedge fund manager Viathon Capital LP, which Comizio founded. Based in New York, Medley is an investment advising company.

Moody’s Corporation
Carlton Charles, ’86,
has been promoted to senior vice president, treasurer, and chief operational risk officer from vice president, treasurer. The ratings, research, and analysis firm is based in New York.

Ana Bartholo, ’04,
has joined the Sao Paulo, Brazil office as account manager. Headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut, the sports marketing company is expanding its Brazil office as sports marketing momentum builds for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

Project Partners, LLC
William Lump, ’03,
has been named CFO. The lower-middle-market private equity firm is based in Chicago. Previously, Lump was CFO of Prism Capital.

RSR Partners
Brad McLane, ’83,
has been appointed managing director and co-head of marketing, consumer, and hospitality practices. He also will lead the firm’s Chicago office. Based in Greenwich, Connecticut, the firm helps companies with such issues as CEO succession, board analysis, director recruitment, C-suite executive search, and corporate governance.

Allan Rimland, ’89,
has joined as managing director in the health care group. The financial services firm is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas. Previously Rimland served as managing director and co-head of JMP Securities’ health care services and information technology investment banking group in New York.

Viacom International Media Networks
Michael Armstrong, ’02,
has been named senior vice president and general manager of Paramount Pictures Channels. He will continue to serve as senior vice president and general manager of BET International. Both media networks are part of Viacom, which is headquartered in New York.

Vystar Corporation
Joanne Kearney, ’76,
has been appointed vice president of marketing. Based in Duluth, Georgia, the company has created a natural rubber latex product for commercial and medical use.

Alumni to Know

Rodney Anderson, ’92, was inspired by childhood visits his family made to taco stands in Mexican neighborhoods, said an April 3 article in the Iowa City Press-Citizen. After business school, Anderson used money he made in Blockbuster Video stock to open his first Mexican restaurants in Iowa City, Iowa, and East Lansing, Michigan—Panchero’s Mexican Grill was born. The chain has expanded to more than 50 sites throughout the United States. Anderson plans to open 20 new restaurants a year, expanding to New York; New Jersey; Boston, Massachusetts; Sioux City, Iowa; and the Phoenix, Arizona area, the article said. “We want to get to 100 units as quickly as we can,” Anderson told the newspaper. “With the economy coming back, we’ll be able to grow through franchises. We’ve got a lot of things happening.”

Illinois residents are no longer relegated to one electric power supplier. Thanks to Power2Switch, founded by Seyi Fabode, ’10, they can now buy alternative energy, like power generated by local wind farms, said an April 21 article in Chicago Now. Fabode said he enjoys receiving emails of positive feedback from people who are saving money while protecting the environment.

Should wireless operators expand into the latest technology, called voice over long term evolution, or VoLTE? “The VoLTE decision represents a significant operational strategy challenge for both incumbents and greenfield operators,” Sudhar Govindarajan, ’10, said in an April 12 article he wrote for RCR Wireless News. “The winners will be those who balance the costs of their technology choices with their ability to commercialize their investments through pricing, service quality, and features that appeal to consumers.” Govindarajan is an associate in the services, electronics, and software business group at PRTM.

Michael Klingensmith, ’76, has retired from his job as executive vice president in charge of strategy and acquisitions at Time Inc. and become publisher of the Minneapolis (MN) Star Tribune. The new job takes him home, having grown up in Fridley, a Minneapolis suburb. While many people bemoan shrinking newspapers, under Klingensmith Sunday circulation is increasing and ad revenue is decreasing less than expected. In February employees received $1,163 each in profit-sharing gains for 2010, and the newspaper is hiring, said an April 18 article in

Klingensmith used such strategies as direct mail and a Groupon offer to boost subscriptions. He also rebuilt the digital newspaper’s sales force. “There’s a lot to figure out,” Klingensmith said. “Are we finally in equilibrium or is this just a resting spot before a new downturn? A lot is going to depend on what kind of contribution we get from digital and what kind of money we can get out of consumers on the circulation side.”

Before taking the publisher’s job, Klingensmith looked at the financials and thought the newspaper “had a good shot,” he said in the article. Taking a quantitative approach, he polled focus groups to acquire statistical data. One surprise: People still rely on the Star Tribune for national and international news, an area many regional dailies have abandoned, the article said.

To boost business in the maritime products industry, it is important to satisfy employees as well as customers, said Danny Lien, ’11 (AXP-10), in an April 20 article in The Business Times Singapore. Lien is founder and managing director of Amos International. Amos stands for All Marine and Offshore Services. The company supplies a variety of products to ships that dock in Asian ports. Lien said he considers employees to be “internal customers” who create value for the company that external customers are willing to pay for. “If you can make your internal customers happy, it is a foregone conclusion that your external customers will be happy,” Lien told the newspaper.

Herb Massin, ’74, is fighting to preserve residential neighborhoods and green space in LaGrange Park, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. He is doing so through the publication LaGrange Park Developments, where he is the editor. “Our village has been subjected to pressure from developer-hawks for years,” Massin said in an April 8 article in Energy Weekly News. He said it would be “a travesty” to override the village’s comprehensive plan right at the time that the village has been included in’s list of “America’s Most Stable Home Markets.”

Angela Seaworth, ’00, has earned the highest professional certification given by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. In becoming an Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive, she is only the second person in the world under the age of 40 to have reached the goal, said an April 26 article in Ultimate Lake Houston. The credential is available only to senior-level fundraisers who have worked in the profession for 10 or more years. Seaworth is director of the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at Rice University.

Real estate was going to be his career of choice. But when Rob Sivitilli, ’96, joined JPMorgan as an associate in real estate banking, he “fell in love with the job” and has been a banker ever since, he said in an April 21 Q&A on the website. Today, Sivitilli is the firm’s Singapore-based managing director and head of corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions for Southeast Asia. “The role of the banker involves wearing many different hats. I’m a marketer, a deal execution person, a recruiter, a manager, and a teacher. It’s lots of different jobs rolled into one.”

CEO Watch: Making Headlines

Femi Akinde, ’08
CEO and Founder
The firm offers mobile phone-based technology to buy and sell goods and services. While headquartered in Seattle, SlimTrader operates in Africa, where clients include two airlines, a ferry service, a bus service, and a fertilizer company. Africa “is still a pretty niche market,” Akinde said in an April 18 article in GeekWire. His advice for companies considering Africa to do business: “There’s not a lot of attention being paid to companies that operate in Africa, so it’s certainly a long slog to get things operational. It will take a lot of patience, a lot of fortitude, a lot of reaching out, and a lot of hard work. But I think it can be extremely worthwhile. I think it’s extremely satisfying if folks are willing to put in the time and effort. Also, what you end up with is, at a minimum, a double bottom-line company, where you can easily articulate your financial return on investment, as well as your social return on investment.”

Bart Becht, ’82
Reckitt Benckiser
Becht, who is retiring, was profiled April 14 in The Telegraph. “Analysts have put Reckitt’s success under Mr. Becht down to three things: strong sales growth, continual margin improvement, and throwing off large amounts of cash,” the article said. The consumer goods company is known for an “aggressive target-driven culture in which employees are encouraged to come up with ideas,” the article said.
 “We don’t care about consensus,” Becht wrote in a Harvard Business Review article quoted by The Telegraph. “Not having it doesn’t slow us down and doesn’t mean that people aren’t aligned. We make decisions fast and then all stand behind them.”

Josh Carl, ’05
Founder and CEO
The Endeavor Companies, LLC
Carl, a former basketball star at Glenbrook North High School, is the new owner of Joy of the Game, a basketball establishment in Deerfield, Illinois, said an April 25 article in the Chicago Tribune. Carl hails from a basketball family. His father, Howie “Hershey” Carl, played in the NBA for the Chicago Packers. Carl’s brother Adam played basketball at the University of Wisconsin and his uncle Sam Carl was the number two leading scorer in the Chicago Public League in 1949 and ran the free-throw shooting stand at Riverview Amusement Park.
 “Growing up around basketball I now realize that sports was not only about competition, but an outlet to teach life’s valuable lessons, on and off the court,” Carl told the Trib. “I want Joy of the Game coaches to be inspirations to everyone who comes through our doors, and show them that sports is about roles, responsibilities, and relying on one another.”

Sean Harper, AB ’03, MBA ’09
CEO and Cofounder
The online company, which lets businesses comparison shop for lowest credit card processing fees, is expanding to Canada. That country has implemented a voluntary code of conduct so that merchants are informed of costs associated with accepting credit card payments, said a March 31 article on Nevertheless, fee structures still have not been standardized. “It’s incredibly confusing, especially for small business owners who are trying to focus on actually running their business,” Harper said in the article. “They often feel powerless and taken advantage of, and most simply don’t have the time to pour over the minute details of lengthy contracts filled with financial jargon. They need a simple solution to compare the options and that’s what FeeFighters provides.”

Pete Peterson, ’51
Peter G. Peterson Foundation
Peterson will receive the 2011 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in citizen leadership. A March 21 release said Peterson’s foundation aims to “increase public awareness of the nature and urgency of key long-term fiscal challenges threatening America’s future and to accelerate action on them.” The award was presented by the University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and runs Monticello.

Fred Steingraber, ’64
Chairman Emeritus
A.T. Kearney
Board Advisors, LLC

Steingraber was part of a team that studied CEO hiring at S&P 500 nonfinancial corporations from 1988 to 2007. The study showed that companies that promoted CEOs from within outperformed companies that recruited their chief executives from outside the company, said an April 8 M2Presswire release. The study is titled “Homegrown CEO: The Key to Superior Long-Term Financial Performance is Leadership Succession.”  It identified 36 companies exclusively promoting CEOs from within over the 20-year period, the press release said. Those companies outperformed other companies based on return on assets, equity and investment, revenue and earnings growth, earnings per share growth, and stock price appreciation.

Submit information about yourself or fellow alumni to