30 Brown University Alumni Leading the United States in Business

Monday, August 06, 2018


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In recent years, Brown grads have held the top spots at Uber, BET, and the Fed

There is no business school at Brown University, but that hasn’t stopped Rhode Island’s Ivy League institution from producing a significant number of the top CEOs and leaders in business in America.

In recent years, Brown grads have headed the Federal Reserve, Black Entertainment Television, Uber, and Bank of America, to name a few.

See the List Below -- 30 Brown University Alumni Leading the United States in Business 

One setback to Brown nurturing the future business leaders of America may be the retirement of a legendary professor and mentor.

This past spring, engineering Professor Barrett Hazeltine taught his last class of “Engin 9” — the legendary management and entrepreneurship course at Brown. 

In a September, a 2010 GoLocalProv feature story written by Marques Coleman — now at Carlyle Group and completing his MBA at Yale — interviewed a number of business leaders in America about Hazeltine.

“Professor Hazeltine has touched the lives of so many Brown students over the years," said John Stamler, Brown University alum and investment professional at Wayzata Investment Partners "I always looked forward to attending Professor Hazeltine’s classes knowing they would be thought-provoking, interesting and challenging. His passion for his subject and commitment to all of his students made him extra special. He is a true asset to Brown University.”

This view is quite common actually, just ask any Brown student or alum; many of them will tell you that their favorite professor is Hazeltine.

While the list of notable Brown business leaders is primarily comprised of men and women in their 50s or older, younger Brown grads are grabbing business headlines, too. This year's Forbes 30 Under 30 included two recent grads:

* Nick Martell ’11, who co-founded MarketSnacks, the ultimate daily source of financial news for millennials, making Wall Street quick, clear, and entertaining.

* Ben Chesler ’15, who co-founded Imperfect Produce, which has found that 1 in 5 fruits and vegetables that are grown in the U.S. don’t meet cosmetic standards for retailers and usually are thrown out. 

In addition, GoLocal LIVE has featured a sweeping array of Brown undergrads and recent graduate who are creating solutions to interesting problems. No business school? No problem.

See the List Below -- 30 Brown University Alumni Leading the United States in Business


Related Slideshow: 30 Brown University Alumni Leading the United States in Business - August 2018

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Janet Yellen

Former CEO and President of the Federal Reserve Bank 

Class of 1967

Yellen has won multiple honors and awards, but the most impressive one might be Forbes ranking her the second most powerful woman in the world in 2014. In 2010 Yellen became vice-chair of the Federal Reserve System before President Obama nominated her for the Chair of the Federal Reserve.

In January 2014, Yellen became the first woman to hold the position of the Chair of the Federal Reserve, which she held until recently. Her term on the Board was set to end in 2024 -- and term as Chair in 2018 -- but when President Trump appointed a new Chair, Yellen handed in her resignation. She joined the Brookings Institution as a distinguished fellow in residence with the economic studies program and currently holds this position.

Formerly, she served as Chair of President Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors and as the President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

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Dara Khosrowshahi

Uber CEO

Class of 1991

Khosrowshahi walked away from $184.4 million in unvested stock options at Expedia-- for a reported $200 million from Uber.

Khosrowshahi, who graduated with a B.A. in electrical engineering from Brown University, spent 12 years at the helm of Expedia before leaving for Uber in August 2017.

After graduating Brown, he joined Allen & Company, an investment bank, as an analyst. He went on to be President of USA Networks and CFO of IAC before landing his spot as CEO of Expedia. There he extended Expedia’s presence to over 60 countries and acquired several large competitors.

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Nina Jacobson

Producer of The Hunger Games series, Founder of Color Force, former President of the Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group (Disney)

Class of 1987

Jacobson has it tough -- she regularly hangs out with the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, and Elizabeth Banks. After graduating from Brown in 1987 with a degree in semiotics, Jacobson has gone on to produce all four movies of The Hunger Games series. She became interested in adapting The Hunger Games to the big screen after reading the book herself, claiming that she “couldn’t put it down.”

Prior to producing The Hunger Games, Jacobson worked for The Walt Disney Motion Picture Group.

Her film credits there include movies such as The Princess Diaries, Remember the Titans, and Pirates of the Caribbean. She was also an executive producer on the recent documentary, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.

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Ross Greenburg

Former President of HBO Sports

Class of 1977

His childhood heroes? Mickey Mantle and Muhammad Ali. His favorite movie? Field of Dreams. Ross Greenburg lives and breathes sports. No wonder, seeing as how he spent 33 years working for HBO Sports. During this time he served as Senior Vice President, Executive Producer, and President, and has won a total of 51 Sports Emmys for his work.

He left in 2011, after 33 years. Since leaving HBO, Greenburg has founded Ross Greenburg Productions, which he hopes will “stand for the same quality of programming that branded HBO Sports.”

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David Ebersman

Former CFO of Facebook Inc.

CEO and Co-Founder of Lyra Health

Class of 1991

If you’re trying to look up Ebersman on Facebook, think again. This former Facebook CFO has a private account.

Ebersman served as Facebook’s CFO from 2009 to 2014, helping to take the company public in 2012. Mark Zuckerberg considered him a "great partner in building Facebook” who helped the company “operate efficiently and make the long-term investments we need.”

Ebersman decided to step down from the position and re-enter the healthcare field, where he is the co-founder and CEO of Lyra Health -- the company's mission is "to transform behavioral health care through technology with a human touch, to help people feel emotionally healthy at work and at home."

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John Chen

Chairman and CEO of BlackBerry Ltd., former Chairman and CEO of Sybase

Class of 1978

Chen has been described as the ultimate “turnaround artist.”  After graduating from Brown in 1978, Chen took charge of Sybase Inc. after it had just suffered major financial losses.

He boldly moved the company in the direction of mobile information, and things started to look up. He remembers how “people were laughing at us for getting into mobility so early ... saying there’s no money there.” A couple years later, Sybase was the largest enterprise software provider in wireless technology.

Chen has been working his magic again, this time as the CEO of BlackBerry.

Set to remain CEO at least until 2023, Chen pulled the company out of the dire circumstances it was in when he arrived in 2013 and is looking prosperous in 2018. 

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Kent Swig

President of Swig Equities, LLC and Owner/Co-Chairman of Terra Holdings, LLC

Class of 1983

Some people say that you should major in what you want to do in life. Others, however, say you should pursue your passions, and that the rest will work itself out.

Swig evidently took the latter advice, as he received a B.A. in Chinese history and from there decided to go into real estate. He currently deals with real estate in both New York City and California, as well as work with non-profit organizations such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

In the past, he has been a bit of a lightning rod in the New York tabloids tied to some controversy with his deals and a high-profile divorce.

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George Barrett

Chairman and former CEO of Cardinal Health

Class of 1977

Barrett’s not like a regular boss, he’s the “cool” boss you never had.

At the 2014 Cardinal Health Retail Business Conference, Barrett rocked out on the guitar with Roger Daltrey, the lead singer of The Who.

It’s not all fun and games, however, as Barrett became “one of the leaders and leading thinkers of the pharmaceutical industry” through hard work and innovation. In 2017 Cardinal Health was ranked 14 on the Fortune 500 list.

Barret recently stepped down as CEO and will be stepping down from executive chairman in November of this year but declined to comment to Columbus Business First on what he will be doing next.

Barrett and Cardinal Health have recently been involved in some legal issues having to do with the mass distribution of opioids.

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Barry Sternlicht

Founder, Chairman, CEO of Starwood Capital Group

Class of 1982

Fortune Magazine dubbed Sternlicht the “King of Hotels.” This “royal” investor graduated from Brown in 1982 and borrowed over $1 million to launch his career.

The gamble paid off, however, as he went on to found Starwood Capital Group. In addition, Sternlicht is the founder of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide and chairman/CEO of Starwood Property Trust.

The acquisition team has purchased over $97 billion in assets.

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John Sculley

Former president of PepsiCo, former CEO of Apple

Class of 1961

His autobiography is entitled, “Odyssey: From Pepsi to Apple.” The title alone shows that Sculley not only ran with the big leagues - he was the big leagues. Sculley was president of Pepsi from 1977 to 1983 and is best known as the brains behind the 1975 “Pepsi Challenge.”

He left Pepsi in 1983 after Steve Jobs asked him, “Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?” He was recently the co-founder of Zeta Interactive, a data-marketing firm based in New York City, and is an original investor in Metro PCS.

Sculley also co-founded Obi Mobiles in 2014 and is now working in the healthcare industry as the Chief Marketing Officer of RxAdvance.

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Debra Lee

Former Chair and CEO of BET Networks

Class of 1976

She gets lunch with Michelle Obama. She was named one the “100 Most Influential Women in Entertainment.” And, she’s a Brown alum. Lee graduated in 1976 with a degree in political science, and since then has spent nearly 30 years with Black Entertainment Television. During this time she has helped to transform the company from a small network to the powerhouse, it is today.

However, she stepped down this summer.

BET said in a statement that Lee “plans to stay involved in the media industry and continue her role on corporate and non-profit boards. In addition, she also plans to continue her commitment to diversity and inclusion by advancing the rights of women and girls as well as people of color,” said BET.

Lee is also a member of the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame.

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John Berylson

Founder of Chestnut Hill Ventures LLC, current Chairman of Millwall F.C.

Class of 1975

He’s an entrepreneur, a former Marine, and a European soccer fan.

Berylson evidently has a wide range of interests, and he puts as much passion into his work as he does his sports teams.  Berylson founded the private equity firm, Chestnut Hill Ventures, in 2002. 

Through the firm, he has owned or held major stakes in Neiman Marcus, Harcourt General, and General Cinema. He is currently the chairman of the Millwall Football Club (a Championship soccer team) in London and has put quite a few British pounds into ensuring the team’s success.

He splits his free time between cheering for his Lions in London and the Red Sox in Boston.

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Tom Rothman

Chairman of Sony Pictures

Class of 1976

A star for Brown’s lacrosse team, Rothman scored 74 goals in three years. He has continued to star in the business world and has held positions such as the former CEO and chairman of Fox Film Entertainment and said when he left the company in 2012 after 18 years, “I’ve done the same thing, at the same place, for a long time. I do need some new challenges and to write a new chapter.”

He worked as a director of Priceline and was the chairman of TriStar Productions. After TriStar was acquired by Sony Pictures he became chairman of Sony Pictures, the position he currently holds.

He was appointed by President Obama to the National Council of the Arts.

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Glenn Creamer

Senior Managing Director of Providence Equity Partners

Class of 1984

Creamer is another key member of Providence Equity Partners team. Before Creamer teamed up with his fellow “Brown Bear” Jonathan Nelson, he served as the vice president of Narragansett Capital, and he also spent some time working for Merrill Lynch and J.P. Morgan

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Steven Price

Executive Chairman of Townsquare Media Group

Class of 1984

Since graduating from Brown, Price has played the role of investment banker, attorney, entrepreneur, government official, and CEO. In 1998 he founded LiveWire Ventures, a software and services company. Earlier in his career, Price served in the U.S. State Department as special assistant to the U.S. ambassador to the START talks and worked in the mergers and acquisitions department of Goldman Sachs & Co.

Most recently he founded and Townsquare Media Group where he served as CEO and is now the Executive Chairman.

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Jonathan Klein

Former President of CNN/U.S.

Class of 1980

Breaking News: The person who used to “break the news” is a Brown alum. Klein graduated in 1980 with a degree in history, and he served as CNN’s president from 2004 to 2010.

Most notably, Klein was at the helm in 2008, when coverage of the Obama-McCain presidential election resulted in one of the highest ratings in CNN history. Klein was GM of WBRU while at Brown.

He also served as founder/CEO of TAPP, a “TV app” that allows celebrities to connect with their fans in a more personal way.

Most recently Klein joined Pareto Network Advisory Board, according to PR Newswire.

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Jeffrey Greenberg

Former CEO of Marsh & McLennan;  Founder, CEO, Chairman of Aquiline Capital Partners LLC

Class of 1973

Greenberg is simultaneously a “chip off the old block” and a “chip off the new block.” After graduation, Greenberg worked for MMC for two years before joining AIG, where his father was CEO. Seventeen years later Greenberg went back to Marsh & McLennan, stating “it would be fun to do something independent of AIG.”

He quickly rose through the ranks and became the company’s youngest CEO. In 2000 and 2001 Greenberg even made Forbes’ list for “America’s Most Powerful People.”

Most recently, Greenberg founded and runs Aquiline Capital Partners.

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Lisa Caputo

Executive Vice President, Marketing and Communications, and Customer Experience of The Travelers Companies Inc.

Class of 1986

Caputo was a member of Brown’s championship field hockey team in 1984, and she continues to channel her competitive spirit today. She currently serves as an executive for The Travelers Companies, but she also has held executive positions with Citigroup, Disney, and CBS. When working with Citi she founded Women & Co., a personal finance source for women.

Caputo was a member of Brown’s Class of 1986, graduating with a B.A. in political science and French.

In 2011 she was also a recipient of the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award, which celebrates student-athletes who have managed to distinguish themselves 25 years after concluding their college athletic careers.

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Dan O’Connell

Founder and CEO of Vestar Capital Partners

Class of 1976

O’Connell, and indeed his entire Vestar team, perfectly embody the “entrepreneurial spirit.” O’Connell founded the company more than 25 years ago, and he and three other founders continue to work at and expand upon the private equity firm. Vestar is a diversified fund but has been involved with many of the biggest deals in the food industry.

O’Connell, who graduated from Brown with a B.A. in political science, also currently serves as Co-Head of the Consumer group and is a director on the board of Roland Foods. Formerly, O’Connell was Co-Head of the Management Buyout Group of The First Boston Corporation.

There he worked with other members of Vestar’s founding team. His career began at investment bank Dillon, Read & Company.”

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Paul Salem

Senior Managing Director of Providence Equity Partners

Class of 1985

Salem is the last, but certainly not the least, Brown alum/Providence Equity Partners businessman on this list.

Not only did he help launch the firm, but he’s also responsible for bringing it into an international setting. Salem established the company’s London office in 1999 before returning to the States.

Prior to working with Nelson and Creamer, Salem worked for Morgan Stanley and Prudential Investment Corporation. Salem also is currently a director of Grupo TorreSur and NFL/PEP Ventures.

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John Koudounis

CEO of Calamos Investments

Class of 1988

Now the CEO of Calamos Investments, Koudounis was formerly the President & CEO of Mizuho Securities USA, Inc.

Calamos has more than $22.6 billion under management.

A first-generation college grad in his family, the Chicago native played football at Brown and focused on international relations, economics, and pre-med. After Brown, he did stints at Merrill Lynch and at ABN Amro, Inc.

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Theresia Gouw

Co-Founder of Aspect Ventures

Class of 1990

Gouw has been largely significant in the push for females to occupy more top positions in the business world. Part of this push was her co-founding Aspect Ventures, a leading woman-owned venture fund.

Prior to this, she was the founding Vice President of Business Development and Sales at Release Software.

Earlier in her career, she was a product manager at Silicon graphics and worked at Bain & Company. Gouw graduated Brown in 1990 with an ScB in Engineering and magna cum laude honors; she earned an MBA from Stanford University. Currently, she is the treasurer at Brown.

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Sam Mencoff

Founding Partner and Co-CEO of Madison Dearborn Partners

Class of 1978

Perhaps it was Mencoff’s B.A. in Anthropology and understanding of human societies that allowed him to become successful in the business world. A 1978 graduate, Mencoff began work with First Chicago Venture Capital where he spent 11 years. It was then he became a founding partner and Co-CEO of Madison Dearborn Partners.

The company is “one of the nation’s leading private equity investment firms, with over $20 billion of capital under management.” Today, Mencoff serves as Chancellor at Brown University.

He is also currently on the Boards of Directors of Packaging Corporation of America and World Business Chicago, a Trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a Director of NorthShore University HealthSystem.

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Charles Giancarlo

CEO of Pure Storage

Class of 1979

When Pure Storage hired Giancarlo in August 2017, they immediately put the pressure on him to succeed. In their press release, they said they thought he was “the best candidate to scale Pure to become a multi-billion dollar global leader in data infrastructure and solutions."

However, this is exactly what Giancarlo is best at, having held high positions in a slew of other companies. Previously he was Managing Director, Head of Value Creation and later Senior Advisor at Silver Lake Partners from 2007 to 2015. Additionally, early during this stint Giancarlo served as Interim President and CEO of Avaya.

Before joining Silver Lake Partners Giancarlo spent 14 years in senior executive roles at Cisco Systems, such as Chief Technology Officer and Chief Development Officer. Giancarlo oversaw more than 30,000 employees and was vitally important in expanding the company’s growth.

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Chuck Royce

Chairman and Portfolio Manager of the Royce Funds

Class of 1961

Ever stayed Ocean House? It’s the award-winning 5-star hotel in Watch Hill, RI.

That luxurious piece of property is owned by Royce. The $140 million hotel/resort is by far his biggest venture in real estate, but he is rather more known for being a pioneer of small-cap investing.

He currently is a portfolio manager for Royce Pennsylvania Mutual Fund, a position he’s held since 1972.

Prior to holding this long-time title, he served as the Director of Research at Scheinman, Hochstin & Trotta and as a security analyst at Blair & Co.

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Jerome C. Vascellaro

Partner and COO of Texas Pacific Group and COO of The Rise Fund

Class of 1974

Vascellaro proved he would be a success in the business world even before he left school. He graduated Brown in 1974 with the highest honors, where he studied engineering and economics, and he then earned an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he graduated as a Baker Scholar.

He is now the COO of TPG and the Rise Fund, while serving on the Board of Trustees at both Brown and California Academy, where he is the Chairman.

Prior to his appointment at TPG he was a Senior Director at McKinsey & Company, where he worked for 28 years.

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George Pyne

Founder and CEO of Bruins Sports Capital

Class of 1989

Pyne has always been an avid sports fan and athlete. He played football at Brown where he was named to the All-New England team in 1988 and was one of six athletes to win the 2014 NCAA Silver Anniversary Award (alongside Troy Aikman), which recognizes distinguished individuals on the 25th anniversary of the conclusion of their college athletics careers.

He currently is the founder and CEO of Bruins Sports Capital in addition to serving as the Non-Executive Chairman of Courtside Ventures, a venture capital fund launched by Bruin.

Previously, he was the President of IMG Sports and Entertainment and a member of its board of directors for eight years. Before IMG, Pyne was COO of NASCAR and just the second non-family member in 50 years to join its Board of Directors.

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Alexa Baggio

Early Stage Co-Founder of PERKS

Class of 2009

Baggio may have graduated Brown less than ten years ago, but she has already made a splash in the business world. She graduated in 2009 as a Commerce, Organizations & Entrepreneurship concentrator and first worked for Merrill Lynch and Axial.

Since then she founded and served as president of Brown Women in Business. Additionally, she was co-founder and Editor in Chief of the magazine The Roger.

Baggio also co-founded and served as vice president of patient experience of 2020 Onsite, an eye examination company before recently co-founding PERKS

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Jonathan Nelson

CEO and Co-Founder of Providence Equity Partners, LLC

Class of 1977

If you’re looking for the name “Jonathan Nelson,” you can find it in one of two places: one, on a desk nameplate at Providence Equity Partners, LLC; or two, on Brown’s Nelson Fitness Center. Nelson was officially Rhode Island’s richest, and only, billionaire -- until Alex and Ani Co-Founder Carolyn Rafaelian recently cracked the list. Nelson graduated from Brown in 1977 and didn’t have to travel far to found his own private equity firm.

Today, his firm manages more than $58 billion in assets. He is one of more than 100 billionaires that have pledged to donate half their net worth to charitable causes.

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Brian Moynihan

Chairman and CEO of Bank of America

Class of 1981

When Moynihan was named Bank of America’s new chairman in October of 2014, barely a month later, he was selected as one of the finalists for Fortune’s “Businessperson of the Year - Reader’s Choice” for being “a performer whose vision and leadership puts them heads and shoulders above the rest.”

He remains in this position and has also been the company’s CEO since 2009. Prior to his joining Bank of America, he held various other banking positions and worked for both Providence’s Edwards & Angell LLP and then-Providence-based Fleet Bank.


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