Spring-Summer 2009

Spring-Summer 2009

Yunus to ’09 Grads: ‘Create Your Own World’



Cover Story

  • Yunus to Grads: ‘There is So Much to be Done’

    By Nancy Moffitt Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus proposed a novel business model to members of the 2009 Wharton MBA class, a model he has used for decades with great success. The founder and managing director of Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank, citing what many describe as the sorry state of much of today’s banking industry, urged graduates to “do the opposite of what conventional banks do” as they look to build satisfying, successful and meaningful careers for themselves. “They go to the rich,” he said of the banking industry. “They go to men. They establish themselves in the center of cities. They require collateral and legal documents. They are owned by rich people.” Grameen Bank, by contrast, is thriving, with a nearly 100 percent repayment rate, by doing precisely the opposite: lending to poor women in tiny villages who have no collateral. “Sometimes reversing something, turning things around, works beautifully,” Yunus said. Yunus started what became Grameen Bank in 1976, believing that small loans to the world’s poorest people could lift them out of poverty. Grameen Bank (“grameen” means “village”) has since spawned a host of microfinance programs that lend small amounts of money to poor people to start businesses, including those that sell crafts, food, and services. It now has more than 7.5 million borrowers, 97 percent of whom are women, and has lent more than $8 billion with a near 100 percent repayment rate. In his speech to Wharton MBAs, Yunus argued that poverty is “created by the institutions we have built and the concepts we have designed. Human beings are not money-making machines,” Yunus said. “They have selfish and selfless (characteristics) in them.” He urged the MBA class to work toward creating something he called “social business,” a model that focuses first on helping the world rather […]

Featured Stories

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    Back Home in the Senate

    Ted Kaufman spent more than 20 years working behind the scenes for Sen. Joe Biden. Now Kaufman is front and center, serving as the freshman Senator from Delaware.

  • A Conversation with J.D. Power III, WG’59

    By Tim Hyland Soon after earning his Wharton MBA in 1959, J.D. Power landed a plum position with the Ford Motor Company, which in itself was something of a miracle. Power had graduated in the midst of a deep recession that had hit Detroit especially hard. Job cuts had swept through the industry. Power recalls his office being awash in pink slips. But even during those hard times, Power says he never imagined the American auto industry would ever fall quite so far as it has today, with both General Motors and Chrysler on the brink of collapse and Ford battling massive problems of its own. “To see what’s happening today with Chrysler and what’s happening to General Motors, I don’t think anyone would have ever believed it,” says Power, founder of the market research firm J.D. Power & Associates, who returned to Wharton in May to celebrate his 50th class reunion. The weekend was Power’s first-ever Wharton Reunion event, and he marked the occasion by addressing his classmates during a special Saturday luncheon that also featured remarks by Dean Thomas Robertson and a performance by the Penn Glee Club. Power took a few minutes to chat with us about the value of his Wharton years, his advice for the new graduates, and his thoughts on the American auto industry. This is your first Reunion weekend. How does it feel to be back? I’ve been back a few times but not for alumni events. I really find it unbelievable how many [new] buildings there are. I arrived yesterday in the afternoon, during rush hour, and I couldn’t believe all of the activity going on, especially during this economic downturn. So I’m glad to see the whole university is so very vibrant. You’ve had a long and successful career. How do […]

  • mothers2mothers

    A New Model for AIDS Care in Africa

    By Tim Hyland Mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS has essentially been eradicated. At least, that’s the case in the developed world. In the developing world, meanwhile, millions of women continue to pass the deadly virus along to their babies — even though this transmission is completely preventable. Gene Falk, WG’80, is working to correct what he sees as one of the great wrongs of modern medicine. A few years ago, Falk left a successful media career — he served as Senior Vice President at Showtime Networks, producing and promoting everything from Rolling Stones concerts to Don King’s boxing events — to serve full-time as executive director for the Cape Town, South Africa nonprofit called mothers2mothers. He had co-founded the organization with this old friend and Williams College roommate, Dr. Mitch Besser, in 2001. Offering medical help and guidance to HIV-positive pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa, mothers2mothers ensures these women get the medical care they need to save their children from HIV — and the support they need to thrive despite the still-strong stigma surrounding AIDS there. “Mothers2mothers is focused on preventing the transmission of HIV from pregnant women to their children,” says Falk, who visited Wharton in mid-April to speak with students about his work with mothers2mothers and his experiences as a social entrepreneur. “That may sound daunting, but actually, medically, it’s quite easy, which is why there are so few HIV-positive children in the developed world anymore. In the 1980s and 1990s, you heard a lot about AIDS babies. You don’t hear that anymore.” Eventually, Falk and his colleagues at mothers2mothers would like to be able to say the same about Africa. They’re working toward that goal in two ways: First, by identifying HIV-positive mothers and getting them the life-saving medicines they need; second, by training some of those women […]


  • The Real World: Wharton

    Wharton students spend as much time learning outside the classroom as in it. They aren’t the only ones to benefit from the experience.

  • Wharton Makes News

    A sampling of recent news stories featuring Wharton alumni, faculty and staff.

  • ‘Mankind is Noodlekind’

    Lessons Learned from One of the Greatest — and Most Unconventional — Business Minds of All Time

  • Editor’s Letter

    Soon after taking over as Editor of the Wharton Alumni Magazine, I interviewed the president of UBS Investment Bank. A couple days later, I chatted with a former Wall Street executive who, after a radical career shift, has built one of the most celebrated vineyards on the West Coast. Not long after, I had a face-to-face interview with one of the most influential executives in the history of the auto industry. I also spoke with a former media executive now working to save the lives of thousands of women and children in Africa. And finally, I spent an hour interviewing a member of the United States Senate. That was just my first several weeks. If I’ve learned anything in my initial months at the Wharton School, it is something the rest of you already know: Wharton is a truly remarkable place, and Wharton alumni are capable of truly remarkable things. In business. In politics. In anything they do. My goal as Editor is to build a magazine every bit as remarkable as the school it represents. And I believe we’re well on our way to doing just that. In this edition of the magazine, we are offering a glimpse of some of the many changes to come as we overhaul your magazine — both in print and on the web. For this edition, we’ve welcomed new photographers and new writers. We’ve also introduced a few new features, including our up-front commentary that will help kick off each issue. This space is open to everyone in the Wharton community—alumni, faculty, students — so please send in your submissions. In his piece this month, our first contributor, author Andy Raskin, WG’94, recounts the lessons he’s learned from Japanese business great Momofuku Ando, inventor of instant ramen noodles. The big changes, however, are […]

  • Wharton Now

    Private Wealth Management Program Celebrates 10th Anniversary Charlotte Beyer, founder and CEO of the Institute for Private Investors, has seen it happen again and again: An entrepreneur starts a company, grows the company and sells the company — then realizes that she or he has no idea what to do with this newfound wealth. “These are really brilliant CEOs,” Beyer says. “Then they have a liquidity event and, suddenly, they find that they’re the CEO of a completely new company — My Wealth, Inc.” For the past 10 years, the Wharton Private Wealth Management Program has been giving these wealthy individuals the guidance and support they need to manage and protect that wealth — for themselves, and for their families. The program, launched jointly by Beyer’s Institute for Private Investors and Wharton in 1999, has served more than 500 individuals from 27 different countries through a rigorous, in-depth, real-world curriculum delivered by top Wharton faculty. The program has evolved slightly over its 10 years, but its focus remains the same: To help very wealthy families answer the most fundamental questions they face about how and where to invest their money. “There are some questions that are perennial, and asked with great desire to find answers,” Beyer says. “Who is the best money manager? Who is the best advisor? But they learn after their week here that those are not necessarily the best questions. The real questions are, ‘Who’s the right advisor for me? Do I even need an advisor? And assuming I do, how do I know if I hired the right advisor? What are the steps for picking the right manager for me?’ They begin to recognize the process that takes place is not only one of understanding the markets and how to do their due diligence, but a […]

  • Leadership Spotlight: Robert Wolf, W’84

    By Tim Hyland By the time Robert Wolf got the phone call from Barack Obama last November, it had become frighteningly clear just how troubled the U.S. economy was. Wall Street was in shambles and American workers were beginning to suffer the consequences, with waves of layoffs spread across all sectors. Obama, fresh off his win over McCain in the 2008 Presidential Election, realized he would be taking office under the worst economic conditions any president had faced since the Great Depression. Which is why he was calling Wolf, W’84, for help — and asking him to serve on the newly created Economic Recovery Advisory Board (PERAB), the first board created under execu- tive order reporting directly to the President since President Eisenhower’s Foreign Intelligence Board in 1956. Despite his enormous responsibilities as Chairman and CEO for UBS Group Americas, Wolf accepted. Q. How did you first became acquainted with President Obama? A. I first met then-Sen. Obama in late 2006 at the offices of George Soros. The Senator was in New York City to give a speech on child poverty and, prior to the dinner, he met with a group of high-profile Democratic supporters. We started to speak often and had our first one-on-one dinner in early January of 2007 in Washington. Q. When did you first learn you would be involved in the Economic Recovery Advisory Board? And what was your reaction? A. Throughout the campaign and once the President was elected on November 4, we had numerous discussions about the economy and financial markets. I learned about my possi- ble appointment directly from the President in late November. I felt that the appointment was a true honor and privilege. With my academic background as a student from Wharton and with 25 years in the financial services industry, […]

  • Wharton Leader: Dick Shea, WG’72

    By Tim Hyland Those long, frantic days on Wall Street never seemed particularly long or frantic to Dick Shea. He didn’t mind getting to work at dawn or staying there well into the evening. And he still doesn’t understand why anyone considers the Wall Street lifestyle stressful. “It’s often portrayed as being a high-pressure environment,” says Shea, WG’72. “I found it to be a whole lot of fun.” In fact, looking back on his long and successful career on the Street — a career that saw Shea eventually rise all the way to Senior Vice President at the private investment bank Dillon Read & Co. — the only thing Shea regrets is that he spent all of those years indoors. So now, he’s making up for lost time. “This is such a great counterpoint to Wall Street, having been somebody who worked in those canyons for so long,” says Shea, who left Wall Street in 1999 to manage his Oregon vineyard full-time. “I changed from 25 years of doing that to really being outdoors all the time. The only time I’m not outdoors is when I’m working down in the cellar with the wine. I loved Wall Street when I was doing it, but this is a great second career.” Just like his first career, Shea’s second is proving to be a successful one. Shea and his wife, Deirdre, have built Shea Vineyard into one of the finest in all of Oregon. The 200-acre vineyard produces both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, supplying Shea’s own Shea Wine Cellars as well as such top Oregon makers as Beaux Frères and Ken Wright Cellars. Twenty-eight of the 37 Shea-produced pinot noirs reviewed by Wine Spectator magazine scored 90 points or higher on the magazine’s 100-point scale. That’s no accident, according to Shea. […]

  • Wharton Leader: William McNabb, WG’83

    By Nancy Moffitt Vanguard CEO William McNabb jokes that his predecessor, John Brennan, is the ultimate market timer. “He joined Vanguard in July of ’82, a couple of weeks before the great bull market started, then announced his retirement not quite at the market’s peak, but darn close,” McNabb says wryly. By contrast, McNabb, WG’83, took over in August of 2008. By early fall, the subprime mortgage market had helped propel the stock market into its biggest free fall since the Great Depression. Indeed, McNabb’s first year as CEO of the suburban Philadelphia-based mutual fund giant has been one of long hours and far more time spent communicating than strategizing. But in spite of the mayhem, McNabb has few complaints. “It’s been really gratifying to see people rise to the occasion,” he says. McNabb, 51, joined Vanguard 22 years ago as a guaranteed investment contract specialist, a job he told the New York Times he was not qualified for and knew little about. “But Jack Brennan, who was then the CFO, talked about what kind of a company Vanguard would become. I liked his vision and his Midwestern values,” McNabb said in the interview. McNabb went on to serve in several senior management roles and lead each of Vanguard’s client-facing business divisions. As an undergraduate at Dartmouth, he studied government. After graduation, he took a job teaching first-year Latin at the Haverford School near Philadelphia. It was a post that allowed him to coach a variety of sports, earn his MBA at Wharton and pursue his passion for rowing, a sport he credits for his strong belief in the team over the individual. The past year has solidified that belief. “Obviously when things began to unfold last fall we found ourselves very much in contingency mode,” he says. “We were […]

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