If you want to know where today’s business leaders honed their skills, look no further then Boston University. Since the University first opened its doors in 1869, it’s welcomed a whole host of the bright young things of the future. Alexander Graham Bell may have invented the telephone in a Boston University Lab back in 1876, but even Bell would struggle to match some of the achievements of the University’s subsequent graduates. To find out which of Boston’s alumni have made the most impact in business, let’s look at 20 of its most notable former students.
20. Brian Bedol
Brian Bedol received his bachelor’s degree from Boston University in 1980, and his M.B.A from the Harvard Business School. After graduating, Bedol began his career as an advertising writer in Chicago, before moving on to join MTV as a producer. Since then, Bedo has developed a hugely successful (not to say lucrative) career as a television executive, one-time owner of CSN, and founder of the sports television channels Classic Sports Network and College Sports Television. Since selling both companies, Bedol has taken on several new projects, including an advisory position with Major League Soccer and the dual-role of president and CEO of Bedrocket, the investment venture he launched in 2012 in partnership with Huffington Post co-founder Ken Lerer.
19. Kenneth Feld
Kenneth Feld graduated from Boston University School of Management in 1970 with a degree in management. He subsequently went on to transform the fortunes of his father’s circus business, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, by expanding operations under banner company Feld Entertainment, an entertainment juggernaut that now includes Disney on Ice, Disney Live, Monster Jam, and AMA Supercross Championship. In the process, Feld has became one of the world’s richest circus industry billionaires, second only in wealth to Cirque du Soleil’s Guy Laliberte.
18. Jan Brandt
Jan Brandt followed her graduation from the Boston University’s School of Public Communication with a job as a copywriter at Xerox Education Publications. From there, she enjoyed a short stint at life insurance company Colonial Penn, before spending the next 10 years with Education Today. After returning briefly to Xerox, Brandt was hired as vice present of marketing for AOL, where she hit the headlines with a “carpet bombing” marketing strategy, that saw AOL subscribers rise from a paltry 20000 to over 22 million. Brandt continues to serve at AOL to this day, albeit in the reduced capacity of part-time consultant.
17. Jay Cashman
Jay Cashman graduated from the Boston University School of Management in 1975, and subsequently carved out a successful career in construction. His company, Jay Cashman, Inc. is one of the most successful firms in its sector, with over 1000 employees spread across 5 locations. Notable works include the Boston Central Artery/ Tunnel Project, while the company’ subsidiary, Patriot Renewables, owns and operates 4 commercial- scale wind energy projects in Maine.
16. Kamal Bahamdan
Saudi Arabian businessman and equestrian Kamal Bahamdan graduated from Boston University in 1994 with a BA in Manufacturing Engineering. He has since gone on to take on the dual-role of CEO and Vice Chairman of the Bahamdan Group, an investment firm founded by his grandfather, Salem Bahamdan, in the 1940’s. Under Kamal’s leadership, the group has significantly increased operations, and currently invests in over 130 companies. Bahamdan has also seen success outside of the group: in 2009, he launched global investment firm, Safanad Limited, the success of which has seen him awarded the King Abdulaziz Order of Merit First Class in 2012, and named a Young Leader of the Year by the Forum of Young Global Leaders.
15. David K. Colapinto
Since graduating from Boston University with a B.A. in History, David K. Colapinto has carved out a successful career in law, and currently serves as a partner with Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto. Career highlights include securing whistleblower protection for Federal Bureau of Investigation employees and serving as counsel in the defense of former civil servant Linda Tripp’s Privacy Act lawsuit against the Departments of Justice and Defense. Colapinto currently serves as general counsel for the National Whistleblower Center, and has used his expertise to author the hugely successful Whistleblower Law: A Guide to Legal Protections for Corporate Employees.
14. Trung Dung
After receiving his bachelor’s degree at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, Vietnam born Trung Dung completed some postgraduate courses at Boston University before taking on an engineering post at Open Market. After deciding he was more suited to working for himself than for others, Dung launched software development company, OnDisplay Corporation. By 1999, OnDisplay was listed as one of the 10 most successful IPO’s in the world, and the following year, it was acquired by Vignette Corporation in a deal worth a reported $1.8 billion. Dung followed up the success of OnDisplay with computer software company, Fogbreak Solutions and, in 2004, Bluekey Services. Dung currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Vietnam Education Foundation, and in May 2004, was awarded a Golden Torch Award at the Vietnamese American National Gala.
13. Gerald L. Gitner
Gerald L. Gitner graduated cum laude from Boston University in 1966. Since completing his education with an MBA at the University of Rochester, Gitner has enjoyed unparalleled success in the aviation industry, with multiple high-ranking positions at TWA, Pan Am, People Express Airlines, and others. Although he’s enjoyed numerous career highlights, Gitner is best known as the man responsible for the turnaround of Trans World Airlines; during his tenure as CEO, Gitner dramatically increased fleet numbers, restructured the company’s debt, overhauled the fleet, and orchestrated the very profitable sale of the company to American Airlines in 2001. His work with TWA gained him global recognition, along with 2 J.D. Power and Associates awards.
12. Sara Fitzmaurice
Founder and President of Fitz & Co, Sara Fitzmaurice, began her career after graduating Magna Cum Laude in Art History from Boston University. Since founding Fitz & Co in 1995, Fitzmaurice has developed the company into the world’s leading PR firm, successfully spearheading campaigns for a host of international clients such as Art Basel (the annual international art fair in Switzerland), BMW, Netjets, and Hugo Boss. Outside of her activities with Fitz & Co, Fitzmaurice sits on the board of New York City’s Public Art Fund, serving in an advisory capacity on all matters relating to art projects, marketing and public relations.
11. Ted Harbert
Edward W. Harbert began his career in broadcasting while working as a student at Boston University’s college radio station. Since graduating magna cum laude from the university with a degree in Broadcasting and Film, he’s enjoyed a stellar career as a broadcaster and television executive, taking in positions with ABC Entertainment, DreamWorks TV, NBS Studios, E! Network, and most latterly, with NBC Universal, where he served as chairman until 2016. Harbert currently sits on the boards of Urban Arts Partnership, Hollywood Radio and Television Society, and the Executive Committee of Boston University’s School of Communications.
10. Jerald G. Fishman
Jerald G. Fishman obtained his MBA from the Boston University Graduate School of Management before earning his J.D. from Suffolk University. At the same time as he was completing his education, Fishman was building a successful career in management, culminating in the position of General Manager of Analog Devices' Semiconductor division. In 1980, Fishman was appointed to Vice President of the company; 8 years later, he rose to the rank of Executive Vice President. In 1991, he was elected President and Chief Operating Office, while in 1996, he achieved the ultimate position of CEO. His success in the role would see him named “CEO of the Year” by Electronics Business magazine in 2004.
9. Bonnie Hammer
Since graduating with a master’s degree in Media Technology from the Boston University School of Education in 1975, Bonnie Hammer has seen remarkable success as a businesswoman and network executive. Since starting her television career as a producer at WGBH-TV, Hammer has worked for a number of companies in a variety of high- profile positions, including executive producer at Lifetime Television Network (where she earned the Lillian Gish Award for outstanding contribution, several Cine Golden Eagles and the National Association for Youth's Mentor Award); programming executive at Universal Television; digital head of Cloo, Chiller, E! and Universal HD; board director of the Ad Council and member of the strategic planning committee for Boston University's College of Communication.
8. Ishrat Husain
Pakistani banker and economist Ishrat Husain earned his Ph.D. from Boston University in 1978, and subsequently went on to launch a highly lucrative career in finance. Fresh from graduation, Husain joined the World Bank as a country economist for Liberia, and in 1994, he was appointed chief-economist for the Asia-Pacific region. In 1999, he left the World Bank for the State Bank of Pakistan, where he served as Governor until his departure in 2005. Three years later, Hussain took on the position of Dean of IBA Karachi: after overseeing the expansion of the former business school into an interdisciplinary establishment, Hussain stepped down from the deanship in 2016. He currently serves as an Advisor to Pakistani Prime Minster Imran Khan, and as resident policy fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Centre.
7. Bruce Karatz
American businessman and philanthropist, Bruce Karatz, earned his B.A at Boston University before completing his J.D. at the USC Gould School of Law. Since graduating, Karatz has built a successful career in property, and is best known as the chairman and CEO of KB Home, a homebuilding company based in Los Angeles. During his tenure as CEO of KB Home, Karatz drove company revenue from $491 million to $11 billion, and increased production from 4,500 home builds in 1989, to over 39000 by 2006. Karatz stepped down from CEO in 2005, and has subsequently partnered up with former Chairman and CEO of Kaufman & Broad France, Guy Nafilyan, to found the real estate development company Nafilyan & Partners.
6. Mickey Drexler
Since earning his M.B.A at Boston University, Mickey Drexler has enjoyed recognition for his work with Gap Inc (where he was responsible for turning the company’s fortunes around in the 1990’s), Apple Inc, Ann Taylor, Bloomingdales, and Macy’s. Drexler’s most recent project is Drexler Ventures, an investment firm that provides advisory services and funding to new start- ups. This year, Drexler has also been announced as the new chairman of activewear brand Outdoor Voices, an appointment that follows his recent retirement as CEO of clothing company, J.Crew.
5. Monty Sarhan
Boston University graduate Monty Sarhan currently serves as Executive Vice President of Programming at premium television network, Epix. Prior to his appointment at Epix, Sarhan enjoyed positions at Viacom Media Networks (where he oversaw the launch of the globally successful Rock Band video game franchise), and Cracked Entertainment, the parent company of Cracked.com. Sarhan transformed the fortunes of Cracked after acquiring its assets in 2005, re- branding it as a comedy and satire brand and re-launching to massive success in 2006. Thanks to the changes implemented by Sarhan, Cracked now ranks as one of the visited sites in the country.
4. Dirk Meyer
Derrick R. "Dirk" Meyer graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Illinois before gaining his master’s degree in business administration from Boston University Graduate School of Management. After graduating, Meyer enjoyed positions at DEC (where he was responsible for the implementation of the Alpha 21064 and Alpha 21264 microprocessors), Intel, and most notable, Advanced Micro Devices. Meyer joined AMD in 1996, and rose through the ranks until his ultimate appointment as president and CEO. After rumored conflicts over the direction the company was taking under his leadership, Meyer stepped down from AMD in 2011, and subsequently joined the board of directors for internet startup, Ocoos.
3. Margaret Stump
Margaret Stump received a BA in Economics from Boston University before completing her Ph.D in Economics from Brown University, She has since gone onto become the first openly transsexual person at Fortune 500 company, Prudential Financial, where she currently serves as Senior Vice President. In addition to her daily activities with Prudential, Stump has contributed to several academic journals, including Financial Analyst's Journal, The Journal of Portfolio Management and the Journal of Investment Management, and worked to increase awareness and understanding of transgenderism within the workplace.
2. Patrick Spain
Patrick Spain has enjoyed an extraordinarily successful career since graduating from Boston University with a law degree in 1979. His first position was as associate counsel with telex manufacturer, Extel Corporation. Spain worked at Extel for 10 years, taking in positions as General Counsel, Vice President of Administration and Vice President of Mergers and Acquisitions along the way. In 1990, Spain took his first stab at entrepreneurism with the launch of business research company, Hoovers. In 2002, he branched out with HighBeam Research, an online subscription research service he would later sell to Cenage Learning. Next up came Newser, an advertising-based online news site, along with multiple high-ranking positions with such companies as GuideStar, Teleberde, and Owler. Spain currently serves as co-founder and CEO of telemedicine services provider, First Stop Health, LLC., a company he founded with the aim of improving patient access to convenient, affordable healthcare.
1. Margaret Wallace
American entrepreneur Margaret Wallace graduated with distinction from Boston University in 1989. She subsequently became involved in the gaming industry, joining video game developer PF Magic in 1996. While at the company, Wallace was involved in the development of numerous virtual pet games, including Catz II: Your Virtual Petz, and Oddballz: Your Wacky Computer Petz. In 1999, Wallace joined Shockwave.com, where she was responsible for the development of such hits as Shockwave Tetris, Blix and Shockwave Jigsaw Puzzles. After a successful tenure at Shockwave, Wallace went on to co- found Skunk Studios in 2001, and in 2007, she created Rebel Monkey, a New York based entertainment company that has since gone on to launch the hugely successful online game, CampFu. In recent years, Wallace has been linked to the success of game design and development company, Playmatics, and social gaming network, Shadow Government, Inc. Wallace’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed- in 2012 she was named as one of Fortune’s 10 most powerful women in video games.
Written by Garrett Parker
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