Alumni Books Roundup: Fall 2017
- by Rebecca Heilweil
Recent books from Wharton grads on the storied Yoh family, data-driven customer experience strategies, overcoming life’s toughest obstacles, and more.
Our Way: The Life Story of Spike Yoh
Bill Yoh WG01
Day & Zimmermann
By the time Harold “Spike” Yoh WG62 retired in 1998, his company, Day & Zimmermann—which specializes in construction, engineering, staffing and defense—employed over 16,000 people, and was on track to earn more than $1 billion in revenue annually. In Our Way: The Life Story of Spike Yoh, written by his son Bill Yoh, Spike’s business acumen and personal kindness come alive. Through interviews with family and friends, the book spans three generations of triumphs and setbacks in the complicated world of business. From the Yoh family’s first arrival in the United States in the early 1800s to Spike’s appointment as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Duke University in 2000, the biography tells the story not just of one man, but of a realization of the American dream. As Bill writes, readers should “use the ensuing pages as a growth opportunity, hopefully an enjoyable one. There is no greater way to inform the future than to study the past.”
By Kathleen Joaquin Burkhalter, edited by David Bell WG84
The Firefly Press
Edited by her husband David Bell following her passing, Kathleen Joaquin Burkhalter’s three-volume collection is a tribute to both the ordinary and extraordinary moments life has to offer. The cover of each volume represents an intimate part of Burkhalter’s life: her children playing on the beach near the couple’s home in Massachusetts; the house from her own childhood in the Philippines; and Mount Arayat in the plains of Pampanga, which she saw daily while her father was stationed at the Clark Air Base. Bulkhalter’s writing traverses Valentine’s Days in Philadelphia, motherhood and faith, all interwoven within her own personal reflections on daily living. Bell writes that readers should discover their own themes and lessons in his wife’s books—“strings, like those on a musical instrument, which play a melody over and over that only you hear.”
Russell Redenbaugh WG69
Morgan James Publishing
After an accident left him blind at age 17, Russell Redenbaugh declared that he would not become dependent, poor, or homebound, and that he would live in the sighted world doing sighted things. From graduating from Wharton and serving as the first disabled member of the Civil Rights Commission, to winning three world championship gold medals in jiu-jitsu (while fighting sighted opponents), his life has been extraordinary. Redenbaugh explains that “shifting your narrative is changing the ‘story’ that may have supported you in the past but is now holding you back.” In sharing his own experiences, he hopes readers won’t simply adjust, but will revolutionize how they see their own lives.
Shaz Kahng WG89
In her new novel, Shaz Kahng introduces the “Ceiling Smashers,” a secret society of ambitious women eager to succeed in the treacherous business world. The newest member is Vivian Lee, a consultant who becomes the first female president of a high-profile but troubled sports company in Portland. Lee has worked at all the A-list brands—from Target to Apple to Tiffany—but can she, in an overwhelmingly male-dominated industry, successfully lead her new company as its IPO approaches?
David Norton GEx99
McGraw Hill Education Books
Marketing expert David Norton, chairman and chief marketing officer of the digital analytics agency GALE, explains how data science can be used to revolutionize customer experience and create brand-building opportunities. Throughout the book, Norton studies cases from his 12 years at Harrah’s/Caesars Entertainment, where he helped the company nearly triple in size and grow revenue tenfold, as well as from his position at GALE today. He explains how to best cultivate customer loyalty programs, build an innovative company culture, ensure continuity across customer interactions, and exploit the latest technologies. Each chapter focuses on an integral part of building an effective customer experience, from organizational structure and hiring practices to the role of research. Exploring both successes and mistakes, Norton demonstrates how to use data to improve marketing efficiency, brand loyalty, and ultimately, profitability.