A record-tying 12 days of rain in Philadelphia ended shortly before Reunion Weekend, letting the sun shine in on three days of glorious weather for more than 800 returning alumni and guests.
The May 15-17 weekend included three Executive Education sessions — “How to Improve Your Leverage in Negotiations,” “Leaders Under Fire” and “Perspectives on the Market” — along with welcoming remarks from Penn President Judith Rodin and a report on the School’s strategic goals from Wharton Dean Thomas P. Gerrity.
Alumni had an opportunity to learn more about the career services available on campus and the new technologies already in place to help them stay in touch with each other and with the school.
Throughout it all, graduates socialized, reminisced and networked in a variety of venues, beginning Friday night with a cocktail reception and continuing Saturday with continental breakfast, a picnic lunch on the Quad and festive evening dinners. The Classes of 1963, ’68, ’73, ’78, ’83 and ’88 gathered at the College of Physicians while the Class of ’93 met at the Horticulture Center in Fairmount Park. Farewell brunches on Sunday concluded the planned events.
On the following pages we highlight some of the activities of Reunion Weekend and profile six Reunion year graduates.
Henning Schulte-Noelle, WG’73: Global Expansion in the Insurance Industry
In 1996, Henning Schulte-Noelle, chairman of Munich-based Allianz AG, was named “Manager of the Year” by Manager Magazin, Germany’s leading business publication.
The award is based on strategic achievement, customer orientation, shareholder value and management style, among other criteria.
In the two years since the award was announced, Schulte-Noelle and the company he joined in 1975 have shown no signs of resting on their laurels. In February, for example, they purchased 51 percent of Assurances Generales de France (AGF) for $5 billion, an acquisition that positions Allianz — with around $60 billion in premium volume — as the largest insurer worldwide, at least for the moment, and ranks the company among the top five players in key insurance markets throughout eastern and western Europe.
By any measurement, Allianz, with close to 100,000 employees, is an impressive powerhouse. Founded in 1890 to insure international commerce, the company today is a global alliance of more than 200 subsidiaries (in approximately 60 countries), joint ventures and affiliates that offer a range of insurance products and services, including life, health, property/casualty and asset management. In the industrial insurance business, Allianz has a share of more than 20 percent of the global Fortune 500 companies and leads in the business of major infrastructure projects, including the Eurochunnel, Hong Kong Airport and Petronas Towers Kuala Lumpur.
During the past six months, Allianz has opened two new companies, Allianz Asset Management — offering pension fund management and personal financial services — and Allianz Risk Transfer — offering new alternative risk transfer solutions.
Schulte-Noelle is widely credited with consolidating the company’s position within Germany while also pursuing aggressive expansion on the continent and overseas. “Before our acquisition of AGF, we were among the top five players in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Hungary,” notes Schulte-Noelle. “Now we will achieve this ranking also in France, Ireland, Spain and Belgium. It positions us as a true global company with a strong European home base.”
Allianz also has significant operations in the Asia-Pacific area (Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and China, among other countries) and Latin America (Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil).
“With AGF we can get access to the South Korean and Malaysian insurance markets, both very difficult to penetrate, and Laos,” Schulte-Noelle says. “We can also strongly improve our presence in Brazil.” Despite the recent Asian financial crisis, he still sees “tremendous growth potential in this region, especially in the life insurance sector.”
Allianz also wants to develop its large activities in the U.S. where total premium volume already amounts to about $7.8 billion. More than 9,400 employees are on the payroll of companies like Fireman’s Fund, Allianz Life and others.
“In the past six years, we have continuously pursued a double-track strategy: expansion and consolidation,” Schulte-Noelle adds. “The advantage of having a strongly decentralized corporate structure is that the head office can concentrate on group strategy and portfolio policy while operative activities are carried out in the local markets.”
Allianz sees itself as a winner in the European Union. “We are already active in all the relevant markets in Europe where we not only have access but generally play a leading role through well-rooted local operations. The individual European markets still differ one from the other as far as legal and fiscal systems are concerned.”
The coming of a unified currency, moreover, is clearly advantageous for Allianz. “We will definitely benefit from the Euro,” Schulte-Noelle states. “Insurance companies are submitted to the so-called ‘congruency principle’ which means they should invest their assets in the same currencies that they have liabilities in. This will dramatically change with the Euro. Our freedom to invest in France, Italy, the Netherlands or any other country of ‘Euroland’ will be much greater. We can therefore clearly improve the mix of our investments, exploiting the larger European capital markets by further diversifying by industry and country.”
Allianz is already the largest shareholder in big private banking players such as Bayerische Hypo und Vereins-Bank (no. 2 in Germany) and Dresdner Bank (no. 3), as well as in Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer.
“Generally speaking, cooperation is our pattern in working with banks, not only in Germany but throughout the world, wherever this makes sense and is allowed by local legislation,” notes Schulte-Noelle. “We want to cooperate with, but not take over, banks. We feel we should focus on our core business and not pretend to be able to manage banks and also not pretend to have the resources to offer all financial services to everybody on a global scale.”
Has the proposed Citicorp/Travelers merger — and the rapid convergence of financial services that it suggests — had any effect on Allianz’s global strategy? Schulte-Noelle says no. “We have seen other examples of this strategy in the ‘80s,” he says. “But this is not our way. We feel very much at ease with our cooperation strategy. We don’t bear head costs and risks for global banking operations. But we have access to bank customers throughout the world. We now sell insurance products through more than 10,000 banking outlets and branches in Italy, Germany, France, Mexico, Spain, Poland and many other markets.”
Schulte-Noelle was born in Essen, Germany, and studied law at the Universities of Tubingen, Bonn, Cologne and Edinburgh. He joined Allianz in 1975 as assistant to the head of the North Rhine-Westphalia regional office and was appointed chief executive of Allianz AG in 1991.
Schulte-Noelle says his biggest challenge in the year ahead will be the successful integration of the AGF group. Such an undertaking will surely call upon those qualities — including “management style” — that earned him the “Manager of the Year” award two years ago.
“My approach to managing,” he says, “includes listening to people and making sure we constantly consider the impact of our strategy on shareholders, customers, employees and society … I strongly support an entrepreneurial attitude, which should allow people to make mistakes.
“If we don’t take risks,” notes Schulte-Noelle, who likes to read history, play the organ and hike in the Bavarian Alps, “we don’t achieve.”
Susan Levosky, W’88: Movies, 24 Hours a Day
Susan Levovsky traces her love of independent films to Philadelphia’s Ritz movie house which she visited weekly while an undergraduate at Wharton.
Today she is director of business planning and development at Sundance Channel, a 24-hour premium television service that showcases about 250 films each year, including features, documentaries, foreign films, short films and animation. Sundance Channel, located in midtown Manhattan, is a joint venture of Showtime Networks, Inc. (owned by Viacom), Polygram Filmed Entertainment and Robert Redford’s Sundance Group.
“The movies are run uncut, uncensored and without commercials,” notes Levovsky. “The idea is to broaden distribution for independent film makers and to support the diversity of ideas that they bring to the genre. The emphasis here is on first-run titles,” including the world premiere of Todd Solondz’ Welcome to the Dollhouse, which won the Sundance Film Festival’s grand jury prize in 1996. A programming department in the company’s 40-person operations decides which films to run.
Sundance Channel, which reaches about 12 million U.S. households via cable, wireless cable and direct-to-home satellite, also shows such high-profile independent titles as Fargo, The Usual Suspects, and Get Shorty.
After attending Wharton, Levovsky worked at Arthur Andersen for two years, consulted for a television and film studio in Los Angeles and then earned her MBA from MIT’s Sloan School. From 1993 to 1995 she was a manager in global corporate strategy with MasterCard International.
In 1995, she joined Showtime’s business development group as a consultant hired to write the business plan for Sundance Channel. After the launch on Feb. 29, 1996, she was named director of business development.
Levovsky is responsible for developing new ancillary businesses for the channel, and executive produces the channel’s web site, a monthly web magazine that offers the latest news in independent films. She also does webcasting, which includes running daily updates of film festivals using “live” interviews and audio and visual clips, and is working on the launch of a home video line of original programming for the channel.
For Levovsky, the job is a labor of love. She spent a year at New York’s School of Visual Arts taking filmmaking courses, and recently completed her first screenplay called Crossing the Line. “It’s about a nice Jewish girl who gets mixed up with the Jewish Mafia,” says Levovsky. “Producers and other screenwriters have told me they think it’s a very commercially viable property. I’m trying to decide if I should sell it off as a screenplay or actually try and produce it myself.”
Alfred R. Berkeley III, WG’68: Bullish on Nasdaq
Being president of the Nasdaq Stock Market, says Alfred Berkeley, “is like ice hockey. It’s as tough a sport as there is, it’s fast, it’s competitive, teamwork is required, and occasionally you get checked hard into the boards. When that happens, it’s important to straighten up and start skating again.”
The sports metaphor is particularly apt for someone who likes competition as much as Berkeley. Before his appointment as president of Nasdaq in 1996, he was a managing director and senior banker at Alex. Brown & Sons, Inc. where he specialized in technology and communications companies. “The culture there was extremely competitive in the best sense of the word,” says Berkeley. “I loved it.”
The challenges at the helm of Nasdaq may be different but they are no less rigorous, especially in light of the proposed American Stock Exchange/Nasdaq merger. That deal — approved by Amex members in June and awaiting government approval this fall — is expected to increase the already intense competition between Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange.
Berkeley, however, doesn’t quite see it that way.
“We are a totally different animal” he says. “We are closer to the newer, completely electronic markets — the foreign exchange markets, the bond markets and the oil markets — than to the NYSE. Computerized markets are the model of the future, not an old-fashioned physical place.
“The NYSE and Nasdaq both happen to trade equities but Nasdaq is set up to bring in competition at every level. We believe passionately that encouraging competition improves the market for investors. A new competitor has to innovate in order to gain order flow. This creates liquidity that is unparalleled.
“And it has paid off,” says Berkeley. “One out of six new jobs comes from Nasdaq companies. That is what this game is ultimately all about. We contribute disproportionately to the economic well-being of the country.”
Berkeley describes Nasdaq as “the Ellis Island of markets … It started with companies that nobody wanted to deal with and dealers that the traditional markets didn’t have room for. But a funny thing happens when you have bright hardworking people. Pretty soon after years of competition and innovation you get stronger than the protected elite. The NYSE’s structure is very difficult for them to change and adapt because they restrict competition.”
The NYSE, Berkeley adds, “sells prestige. We sell performance.”
That performance will only be enhanced as the strengths and capabilities of the Amex are merged into Nasdaq’s own, Berkeley notes. “The merger made sense for a number of reasons. One is Amex’s options market, which has about 25 percent market share. We can help this market grow and also we can bring together options and underlying equities in information services …
“Another reason is the equities market. The Amex does about 30 million shares a day while we routinely do 600-700 million shares a day. In addition to growing their market, we theoretically have lots of computer capacity to dramatically lower their costs and pass those cost savings on to the investor.”
In the meantime, Nasdaq will be developing a pilot system “that will incorporate the Amex’s rules for trading instead of our own. We plan to put a voluntary limit order file in front, between the specialist and the public … We think that will result in a lower-cost, more transparent, more efficient market for the investing public.”
Berkeley grew up in Charlotte, N.C., graduated from the University of Virginia, and after attending Wharton, served in the U.S. Air Force from 1968 to 1972. That year he joined Alex. Brown & Sons as a research analyst, becoming a general partner in 1983.
He came to Nasdaq during a time when the exchange was mired in allegations of improper trading by its major dealers and insufficient monitoring by its parent company, the National Association of Securities Dealers.
Now new rules are in place, Berkeley says, and the biggest challenge these days involves “getting agreement from our various market constituents as to how much automation and/or regulation we should be pursuing … The opportunities ahead are tremendous, provided we manage the pace of change and meet the demands of new technology in such a way that we lead the competition, not lose to it.”
Jennifer Daniels, WG’83: A Doctor Who Treats the Community
Jennifer Daniels is in the news once again. She is opposing a $30 million Avenue of the Arts project in downtown Syracuse, N.Y., that would tie the renovation of two city elementary schools to creation of a downtown arts education center.
The local paper headlines the story, “Avenue of Arts Not Right Rx, Dr. Daniels Says.”
Those six words sum it up. Daniels is a physician, a local activist, and she has very strong opinions about what is wrong and what is right.
What she considers wrong is a $30 million project “that uses public money to totally redo private property,” says Daniels. “The city has an $18 million deficit and the schools have a $15 million deficit, so the money would have to be borrowed anyway. That will mean higher taxes, fewer services and a much tougher time for people who live in Syracuse.”
What’s right for Daniels was her decision seven years ago to open a family medical practice in the low-income section of town where she spent much of her childhood. Immediately upon her arrival there, she led a campaign to clean up the neighborhood — repair the sidewalks, repave the streets and replace drug fronts with single family homes. Six years ago she established a $1,000 scholarship that is awarded every year to a local high school senior.
Daniels earned a biology degree at Harvard and a joint MD-MBA degree from the Penn medical school and Wharton. She spent three years as a physician in small towns in Wisconsin and North Dakota to pay off a national health service corps obligation, then returned to Syracuse and completed a two-year family practice residency at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center. Shortly after, she bought a vacant city block and set up her own practice.
“I treat the dispossessed and underserved … the patient population that other doctors don’t want to see,” says Daniels, who is the only African-American physician in solo practice in Syracuse. She hasn’t forgotten the difficulties that people in her neighborhood had finding doctors who would care for them. “Money wasn’t the issue,” she says. “It was that doctors were disrespectful. They didn’t want blacks in their practice.”
Daniels lives two blocks from her office. Her three children, ages 11, 8 and 5, are home-schooled by her mother.
Daniels’ impact on the community has been documented not just in newspaper articles but in awards she has won over the past few years, including an Achievement Award and a Community Impact Award from two local newspapers, an Unsung Heroine Award from the National Organization for Women and an Outstanding Contribution to the City Award from former Syracuse Mayor Tom Young.
Recently she successfully opposed zoning changes that would have allowed the opening of a bar two blocks from her office, and helped vote down a mini-mall that neighbors feared would serve as a drug front. “It’s always something,” Daniels says.
Does she ever get discouraged? “When I do,” Daniels adds, “I just swallow some vitamins … and I do see progress. Things in this area are materially improving.”
Rodney McLauchlan, WG’78: Banking on Four Continents
Rodney Alan McLauchlan knows more than most what it means to work in a global economy.
He is chairman of Bankers Trust Global Banking Group, head of client management and chair of the firm’s European and Asian Advisory Boards, among other responsibilities. He has lived on four continents and speaks five languages.
And, although based in New York since 1995, he recently was assigned oversight of the bank’s Asian operations, primarily the restructuring and refinancing process necessitated by the region’s current financial crisis. The assignment means spending approximately two weeks out of every four in Asia for the next six to eight months.
Previous assignments have included two years (1994-95) in Singapore and Tokyo, where he coheaded Bankers Trust’s Asian operations, five years in London (1989 to 1994) where he was responsible for operations in Europe and the Middle East, and two years in Chicago (1987 to 1989) as head of Bankers Trust’s Midwest office.
A native of Brazil and graduate of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, McLauchlan is a Trustee of the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, a National Board Member of the Lyric Opera House in Chicago, and a director of the Brazilian American Chamber of Commerce. He commutes on weekends from Manhattan to his home in Florida.
“I work for a very international organization that has a strong presence in non-U.S. markets and that clearly values people with international backgrounds,” he says. For managers who have a “marketing, client relationship role, as I have, it’s especially important to function well in diverse cultures.”
The most valuable aspect of the experience, McLauchlan says, “has been that it teaches tolerance — the ability to work and interact with people from so many different countries, not just on a professional level but a personal one as well.” His international assignments, he adds, “dovetail nicely with my love of language, music and history.”
At Bankers Trust, McLauchlan is also an executive vice president of Bankers Trust New York Corporation, and a member of Bankers Trust’s management committee and chair of the client committee. He is responsible for the firm’s public relations and advertising, marketing service and risk management advisory functions. He joined the bank’s Latin America group after graduating from Wharton in 1978.
McLauchlan’s favorite overseas assignments have been London and Tokyo, his toughest was London. “When I went there in 1989 the economy was clearly turning downwards and then the Gulf War followed shortly after. Europe was in a recession and market conditions were very tough.”
His current assignment in Asia is also difficult, but McLauchlan is upbeat about Asia’s future. “Given the magnitude of the crisis, I don’t see a quick resolution. But overall we are optimistic about the region,” he says. “There are lessons to be learned and tremendous opportunities going forward.”
Sebastian Escarrer, WG’93: Opening More Doors in the Hotel Business
It’s been an extremely busy 18 months for Sebastian Escarrer, CEO of Majorca-based Sol Melia.
In March 1997, Sol Melia, one of Europe’s fastest-growing hotel empires, raised $275 million through a public offering on the Madrid Stock Exchange. Last spring, in a second IPO, the company raised an additional $200 million by spinning off its Melia Inversiones Americanas (MIA) unit. MIA will focus specifically on buying, building and developing hotel properties in Latin America.
That in turn frees up Sol Melia’s real estate unit, Inmotel Inversiones, run by Sebastian’s brother, Gabriel Escarrer Jr., W’94, to concentrate on the European hotel sector, including possible acquisitions in Rome, Paris, Milan, Prague and Budapest.
“Our goal is to become a European and Latin American company as opposed to our main competitors who are U.S.-based,” says Escarrer. Latin America, he adds, “is the region where tourism demand is expected to show the most growth. Only about 5.5 percent of the hotel rooms worldwide are located there. The opportunities are tremendous.”
Sol Melia’s Latin American network already extends into Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela. Potential new markets include El Salvador, Chile, Puerto Rico, Jamaica and Panama.
Altogether Sol Melia has 240 hotels in 25 different countries, mainly Europe and Latin America, but 12 also in Asia. “Right now there is no clear hotel leader in Europe, which for us includes Israel, Tunisia, Cyprus, Greece, Croatia, Egypt, Portugal, Turkey and Morocco,” says Escarrer. Even Asia, despite its current crisis, offers opportunity “eight to 12 months down the road.”
Running Sol Melia is part of Escarrer’s heritage. His father, Gabriel Escarrer, founded the company on the island of Majorca in the 1950s, grew it into one of Europe’s largest hotel empires over the next 40 years, and only recently turned the reins over to Sebastian. “My father is still chairman of the company and still very much involved,” says the younger Escarrer, who was educated in Madrid and Paris before coming to Wharton, did an internship at Coca-Cola and worked at IBM, First Boston and Hyatt International. “I believe our success has been due to my father’s vision, experience and energy together with ideas I learned at Wharton in such classes as finance, marketing and multinational strategic management.”
For example, shortly after taking over as CEO in 1994, Escarrer separated the real estate holdings of the company from the management operations, streamlined management controls and set up distinct geographic divisions. Recently he appointed classmate Monique Skruzny, WG’93, as CFO of MIA.
Escarrer does not rule out the possibility of a future alliance with an American hotel chain, although at the moment Sol Melia, which now totals 24,000 employees, is focusing on Europe and Latin America.
The hardest part about competing with U.S. chains, Escarrer adds, “is that they have acquired such a high level of professionalism from having had to compete in the worst — meaning the most competitive — markets. They are very fast learners. Also, American chains are based in one of the four great markets — the U.S., England, Germany and Japan — which means they have high levels of brand awareness already in place.”
Internally, his biggest challenge is “to create an organization that is totally focused on client needs. That means creating benefits for our four main client groups: the consumer, our employees, the shareholders and, of course, the owners of the hotels we manage.”