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Jennifer F. Scanlon


Jennifer F. Scanlon
President and CEO
UL Inc.

“When I think about the students of the future and the role they can play, I would advise them to take the jobs that other people don’t want and solve the really tough problems.”

When UL Inc. appointed Jennifer F. Scanlon, ’92, as president, CEO, and a member of the board of directors in September 2019, she became the first woman to lead the 125-year-old company, the Northbrook, Illinois-based global safety-science leader. She has achieved other firsts, including her previous role as the first female president and CEO of USG Corporation, the 116-year-old manufacturer of innovative building products. In February, she was named chair of the Commercial Club of Chicago, the first woman to lead the organization in its 143-year history.

Scanlon called her role leading UL “my dream job.” UL specializes in applying science and digital solutions to solve safety, security, and sustainability challenges around the world. Businesses, industries, governments, and regulatory authorities put their trust in UL to test and certify product safety. With scientific research and data-driven insights, UL and its 14,700 employees test more than 100,000 products annually, helping companies bring their innovations to market. UL’s annual revenue was $2.3 billion as of October 2019.

A lifelong Chicagoan and the daughter of a teacher and football-coach dad who “revered the University of Chicago,” Scanlon has always felt a profound connection with the university. “What’s evolved,” she said, “is the deep connections I make immediately upon meeting people from Booth. We share a kinship in being trained in that deep, like-minded approach to thinking about the numbers and the data and boiling business down to its essential elements of what matters and what problems we need to solve.”

DAA winner Assaf Wand


Assaf Wand
CEO and Cofounder
Hippo Insurance

“The biggest joy that you have in entrepreneurship is that you choose who you work with, you choose what you work on, and you build the culture that you want to work in.”

Where other people see problems, Assaf Wand, ’05, sees solutions. A born entrepreneur, Wand has devoted his career to disrupting established industries—culminating in Hippo Insurance, his game-changing insurtech startup based in Palo Alto, California.

Wand traces his entrepreneurial spirit back to his childhood in Israel. Growing up with three brothers, he knew he had to carve his own path in order to stand out. That drive to excel propelled him through a stint as a captain in the Israeli Air Force, and beyond.

By leveraging technology, Hippo created a faster, more intuitive way for consumers to buy insurance online, saving them both time and money. The company also employs smart-home technologies to help customers protect their homes and minimize loss.

Hippo’s seed round raised $3 million in 2016. In July 2019, it raised $100 million in a Series D round, increasing its valuation to $1 billion and raising the company to unicorn status. Between 2018 and 2019, Hippo grew its volume of premiums by 10 times. Today, the company is reporting more than $250 million in premiums annually.

“It elevated the inspiration level,” Wand said of his Booth experience. “The Chicago Approach to business is basically teaching you how to solve something, rather than telling you what the solution is for it. It enhanced my curiosity for learning.”

Cathy L. Krieger


Cathy L. Krieger
President and CEO
Children’s Place Association

“There was a discipline and a knowledge base I was able to get at Booth that has been invaluable for the past 30 years.”

Cathy L. Krieger, AM ’79, MBA ’91, is motivated by the conviction that all children, regardless of health or economic status, deserve the chance to lead their best lives. Krieger channeled that passion into her role as founding chief executive of Children’s Place Association, a Chicago-based nonprofit that pioneered comprehensive services for children with HIV/AIDS, and has since expanded its reach to become a “champion for Chicago’s most vulnerable children,” Krieger said.

From its inception, Children’s Place continually sought new ways to make an impact. Identifying that many of the children it served were wards of the state who also experienced neglect and abuse, Children’s Place developed its own foster-care program. In 1994, it became the first foster agency in Illinois to publicly recruit and license gay men and lesbians as foster parents. Krieger continued to expand programming, adding case management, mental health, family housing, and more.

Today, the organization welcomes children and families who face a variety of conditions and medical needs. Children’s Place strives to help children and families break cycles of poverty and illness, and in 2008, the organization launched Children’s Place International, which carries this holistic model and approach to vulnerable children in developing nations.

“What Booth did for me was really equip me to run a community-based nonprofit struggling with some of the most challenging problems that face us in our society today,” Krieger said.

DAA winner Brian Niccol


Brian Niccol
Chairman and CEO
Chipotle Mexican Grill

“What I would tell future leaders is that if you commit yourself to doing the right thing, you’ll be making the right kind of impact.”

Brian Niccol, ’03, had a plan when he took the reins at Chipotle Mexican Grill in 2018. The brand needed a turnaround, and he was well prepared to bring new, innovative ideas to the fast-food chain’s 2,500-plus stores.

Niccol’s plan to regain consumer trust included creating a renewed focus on Chipotle’s fresh, real ingredients, modernizing and digitizing the restaurant experience, and investing in off-premise and delivery options. New marketing strategies focused on ads that emphasized the more than 50 fresh ingredients featured in menu items. Customers came though, responding to the speedy delivery times, the introduction of online-only exclusives such as Lifestyle Bowls, and a new loyalty program, Chipotle Rewards. In just one year, revenue at Chipotle under Niccol’s leadership increased by about $500 million.

Shareholders have taken note. Chipotle’s stock was the third-highest performing of the S&P 500 in 2019, rising throughout the year by nearly 72 percent. The turnaround earned Niccol the distinction of CNN’s CEO of the Year in 2018, Fortune’s Businessperson of the Year in 2019, and Leader of the Year by Restaurant Business in 2020, among other top accolades.

“People don’t follow spreadsheets—they follow the individual,” Niccol said. “And if you are an individual who is seen as a person who cares about doing the right thing, you can have a tremendous impact in so many different ways.”