Since first opening its doors on November 10, 1825, Rutgers University has become the largest seat of higher education in New Jersey. Past students have gone on to successful careers in entertainment, athletics, politics, finance, industry… the list goes on. Suffice to say, you’d be hard pushed to find a sector that hasn’t benefited from the touch of a Rutgers graduate. If any of its current students are looking for inspiration, they’d do well to reflect on the career paths of their predecessors, not least those of these 20 phenomenally successful business leaders.
1. Greg Brown
Greg Brown’s first notable position was as Chairman and CEO of network management software firm, Micromuse Inc. Brown served at Micromuse Inc. for four years, before leaving to join Motorolo Solutions Inc in 2003. In March 2007, Brown was appointed president and COO of the company; less than a year later, he took the helm as CEO, a position he holds to this day.
Brown’s achievements were recognized in 2013 when he won the Daniel H. Burnham Award for Distinguished Leadership, and again in 2014 when he received the Chicago Leadership Award from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
2. John J Byrne
After graduating from Rutgers University with a degree in mathematics, John J. Byrne enjoyed a stellar career that took in positions as executive vice president at Lincoln National Life Insurance, chief executive of auto insurer GEICO, director and chairman of Overtock.com, and CEO of both White Mountains Insurance Group and Fireman’s Fund.
His most notable achievement was pulling the troubled GEICO back from the brink of bankruptcy, a feat that earned him the nickname of the "Babe Ruth of insurance” from investor Warren Buffett. Byrne died in 2017 after a protracted battle with cancer.
3. Arturo L. Carrion Muñoz
Since graduating from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking of Rutgers University, Arturo L. Carrion Muñoz has carved out a massively successful career in banking. In addition to his 31 years at Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, Muñoz has presided over the National Exchange Club and served as Executive Vice-President of the Puerto Rico Bankers Association between 1980 and 2015. In 2018, his achievements were recognized when the Popular Democratic Party of Puerto Rico awarded him the Luis Muñoz Marín Medal.
4. Stephen Chazen
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Geology from Rutgers University, Stephen Chazen went on to obtain a master’s degree in Finance from the University of Houston and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University. After leaving education, Chazen began his career at Merril Lynch, before departing to join Occidental Petroleum in 1994.
After joining the oil corporation, Chazen enjoyed a stellar rise up the ranks, taking in positions as Executive Vice President of Corporate Development, Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and finally, president and CEO. During his tenure as CEO, Chazen helped steer the company to phenomenal growth, increasing revenue by 1.6 billion in 2010 alone.
5. Mark Fields
Businessman Mark Fields gained his bachelor’s degree in economics from Rutgers University before rounding off his education with an MBA from Harvard Business School. In 1989, Fields was headhunted by Ford Motor Company and spent the next 2 decades steadily working his way up the ranks, achieving his final position as president and CEO in 2014.
Despite his early successes, Fields’ leadership was marred by his decision to backtrack on a $1.6 billion investment in a new factory in Mexico following criticism from Donald Trump. The turnaround lost Fields the confidence of Ford’s Board of Directors, and in 2017, he was replaced as CEO by James Hackett. Since leaving Ford, Fields has served as a senior advisor at TPG Capital, one of the world’s largest private equity firms.
6. Rana Kapoor
Former Rutgers University student Rana Kapoor began his banking career as a management trainee at the Bank of America. From there, he steadily climbed the ranks to CEO. After departing Bank of America, Kapoor served briefly as general manager & country head of ANZ Grindlays, before branching out as one of the central investors and founders of Yes Bank.
In 2005, Kapoor’s involvement in the creation of Yes Bank earned him the title of Ernst & Young’s Start up Entrepreneur of the Year. 2 years later, he pulled in his first billion after Yes Bank’s shares became the best performing stock in India.
7. Bernhard Marcus
Billionaire businessman and entrepreneur Bernhard Marcus made his money with The Home Depot, the home improvement retail group he co-founded with business partner Arthur Blank in 1979.
Since its launch, The Home Depot has become the biggest retailer of its kind in the US, securing the fortunes of Marcus (who’s worth a reported $5.4B according to Forbes for life. After serving as CEO during the company’s first 19 years, and chairman of the board for the duration of his tenure, Marcus retired from the group in 2002.
8. Randal Pinkett
Randall D. Pinkett is a familiar name to many as the winner of season 4 of the reality TV show, The Apprentice. The businessman (who holds 5 academic degrees, including a BS in electrical engineering from Rutgers University) had already tasted some success before appearing on the show, having launched the consulting firm BCT Partners in 2001.
After serving a yearlong apprenticeship with Trump Entertainment Resorts, Pinkett returned to his position as CEO and chairman of BCT Partners. In addition to his work with the consultancy group, he’s managed to publish three successful non-fiction books, as well as assuming the chairmanship of the State Democratic Committee’s Yes We Can 2.0 team.
9. Robert Clarence Pruyn
Robert Clarence Pruyn graduated from Rutgers in 1869, and subsequently build a phenomenally successful career as an inventor, banker, politician and businessman. As an inventor, Pruyn developed 5 patents for various types of children’s games. As a businessman, he presided over the Embossing Company, a leading toy manufacturer in the late 19th century.
As a politician, he served as aide to Governor of New York, John A. Dix, and as a member of the New York Board of Regents. As a banker, he steered the fortunes of the National Commercial Bank and Trust Company of Albany. Outside of his business pursuits, Pruyn is credited as the force behind the development of the Santanoni Preserve in upstate New York.
10. Gary Rodkin
After serving as CEO and president of Tropicana Products Inc, and CEO and chairman of PepsiCo Beverages and Food North America, Gary Rodkin took on the CEO position and presidency of ConAgra Foods, one of the leading food processing companies in the US. During his time with the company, Rodkin managed to rank on Forbes Top CEO Compensation for 2011 thanks to his yearly salary of $5.97 million. Since leaving ConAgra, Roding has continued his success as Independent Director for the Simon Property Group, the largest retail real estate investment trust and shopping mall operator in North America.
11. Duncan MacMillan
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Rutgers University, Duncan MacMillan began his professional career at Bankers Trust before moving on to investment bank Salomon Brothers. In 1981, he joined forces with co-workers Michael Bloomberg, Thomas Secunda and Charles Zegar to found Bloomberg L.P., the privately held financial, software and media company. Despite owning only a 4% share in the company, its remarkable growth has made MacMillan very wealthy indeed… according to Forbes, the businessman is worth an estimated $1.2B.
12. Barry Schuler
Entrepreneur Barry Schuler is best known as the former CEO and chairman of AOL. During his tenure at the company, Schuler was responsible for transforming AOL into a modern entertainment platform covering film, music, television and publishing. His successes achieved widespread acclaim, with BusinessWeek saying he "deserves just as much credit for AOL's explosive success (as then Time Warner chairman Steve Case)”. Further to his departure from AOL in 2003, Schuler has served as CEO of new technology firm Raydiance, and managing director of the venture capital firm, Draper Fisher Jurvetson Growth Fund.
13. Tom Renyi
Former chairman and CEO of the Bank of New York, Tom Renyi, graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in Business Administration in 1968, and an MBA from the Rutgers Graduate School of Management in 1969. After serving a brief stint in the US army, Renyi embarked on a career in banking that would earn him recognition as one of the industry’s most successful leaders.
In addition to his tenure at the Bank of New York, Renyi’s career has also taking in an executive chair position at The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, and board membership with the New York Stock Exchange. Since leaving the Bank of New York, Renyi has served as senior adviser to CVC. CVC Partner and head of the U.S Financial Institutions Group Kamil Salame welcomed Renyi to the company with the statement: “We are delighted to welcome Tom to CVC. He is a tremendously successful executive who is held in the highest regard in our industry.”
14. Harvey Schwartz
Investment banker Harvey Schwartz began his career at J.B. Hanover & Co after graduating from Rutgers University in 1987. Following his departure from the wealth management firm, he served briefly at First Interregional Equity Corporation before joining Citicorp’s credit training program in 1989.
In 1996, Schwartz joined J. Aron, the commodities trading unit of Goldman Sachs. When J. Aron completed its merger with Goldman Sachs a year later, Schwartz was appointed Vice President. In the years that followed, he held positions as Managing Director, Partner, and finally, as President and Co-COO from 2017 until his retirement the following year.
15. Bill Rasmussen
Rutgers University graduate Bill Rasmussen is best known as the founder of ESPN. Rasmussen launched the company in July 1978 alongside business partners Scott Rasmussen and Ed Egan. Despite serving as the brainchild of the network, Rasmussen’s involvement with ESPN was abruptly severed in 1980. Despite ESPN insisting the departure was by agreement, it was widely believed that Rasmussen was pushed out.
In 1999, the rift between the two parties was healed when the then president George Bodenheimer invited Rasmussen to the company’s 20th anniversary party. As Sports Business Daily reports, ESPN has subsequently gone on to re-embrace Rasmussen’s role in the company’s formation, even dedicating a plaque and flagpole to his honor in 2005.
16. Robert Fornaro
After earning his bachelor’s degree in economics from Rutgers University, Robert Fornaro got a job in scheduling and planning at Trans World Airlines. He subsequently served as senior vice president of marketing and planning at Braniff, Inc, vice president for Jesup & Lamont Securities, Inc, director of future planning for Trans World Airlines, and senior vice president at Northwest Airlines.
In 1999, Fornaro joined AirTrans Airways as president and CFO, obtaining the position of COO in March 2001, and CEO in November 2011. On departing AirTrans, Fornaro took on a board position at low cost carrier, Spirit Airlines, subsequently serving as its CEO from January 2016 to January 2019.
17. Maryann Keller
Since obtaining her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Rutgers University, Maryann Keller has built a remarkable career in the automotive industry. In the 1970’s, she became “the first woman to be an auto analyst,” and in 1989, she became an Eccles Prize winner for accurately predicting the rise of the Japanese automotive industry in her book Rude Awakening; The Rise, Fall and Struggle to Recover at General Motors.
In 1999, Keller branched out from her position as a Wall Street analyst to take on a managerial post at Priceline.com; in 2001, she expanded her reach yet further by forming the automotive consultancy firm, Maryann Keller & Associates, at which she currently serves as principle.
18. Sheri McCoy
Sheri McCoy graduated with an MBA from Rutgers University in 1998 after previously obtaining her BA at the University of Dartmouth and her MA from Princeton. Since leaving education, she’s built a remarkable career in pharmaceuticals, serving 30 years with industry leader, Johnson & Johnson, and presiding over Avon Products for 5 years between 2012 and 2017. In 2012, Forbes named her 10th on their list of “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” and in 2012, she ranked 39th on their list of the most powerful women in the world.
19. Ernest Mario
After receiving his BA in Pharmacy from Rutgers University, Ernest Mario completed his education with a Masters and Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry at the University of Rhode Island. After graduating, he entered the pharmaceutical industry, first at Strasenburgh Laboratories, and subsequently with companies including SmithKline & French and E.R. Squibb & Sons. In 1990, he was appointed CEO of Glaxo Holdings, a position he held until his departure from the company in 1993.
Mario followed his tenure at Glaxo with CEO positions at several companies, including Alza Corporation and Reliant Pharmaceuticals, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for biotech company, Vivus Pharmaceuticals. Mario’s achievements in the pharmaceutical field have been recognized on numerous occasions over the years, not least in 2007, when he was awarded the Remington Honor Medal by the American Pharmacists Association.
20. William Bernard Ziff Jr.
Publishing executive William Bernard Ziff Jr. graduated from Rutgers University in 1951. Following the death of his father in 1953, Ziff took the helm at Ziff Davis Inc, the publishing company founded by Ziff Snr in 1927. Over the following years, Ziff transformed the company’s fortunes by concentrating its efforts on trade and enthusiast publications. His strategy clearly worked, as by the 1980’s, the company had become the leading publisher of technology magazines in the world. Ziff died after a long battle with prostrate cancer in 2006 at the age of 76.
Written by Garrett Parker
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