Meet the 2012 Alumni Achievement Award recipients
Cynthia Carroll, MBA 1989
Shortly after she was named chief executive of London-based Anglo American in 2007, one of the world’s largest mining companies, Cynthia Carroll determined that increased transparency was important if the company—and the industry as a whole—was going to improve its safety record. “People responded by asking, ‘Are you sure you want to expose yourself to such scrutiny?’ and I said, ‘Yes,’ ” says Carroll.
Because of Carroll’s commitment to safety, fatalities in Anglo American’s mines have decreased by nearly 60 percent. At the same time, she has inspired a more collaborative approach throughout the mining community and launched initiatives to improve health and education in the localities where the company operates. While critics feared that her cooperative, compassionate approach would hurt the 95-year-old company’s bottom line, just the opposite has been the case. A New Jersey native and the first woman and non–South African to lead Anglo American, Carroll has increased operating profits and decreased debt. “Once we started partnering with the local communities, unions, and governments, we saw a positive change in performance,” she observes.
A mother of four whose husband gave up his career to be at home with their children, Carroll has brought more women into the traditionally male world of mining. When she joined Anglo American, there were few women in leadership positions, while today 22 percent of the company’s managers are female. “It is a business imperative,” she says. “It’s about getting the right people in the right jobs. Women are good at looking after people, and we could all use more looking after.”
Franklin P. Johnson Jr., MBA 1952
When Pitch Johnson left his position as an assistant superintendent in East Chicago’s Inland Steel mill in 1962, he did so reluctantly. “My heart was heavy because I loved the job,” he remembers. “But I knew if I was ever going to be more than an employee, I had to do something else.” Answering the call of opportunity, Johnson moved his wife and four young children to Palo Alto to launch a career in venture capital.
Johnson was not new to the area—he had graduated from Palo Alto High School and Stanford—but he helped shepherd in a new era. Considered one of the founding fathers of Silicon Valley, he founded Draper and Johnson in 1962 , with his friend Bill Draper (MBA 1954), and Asset Management Company in 1967, when he began investing in companies, primarily in the computer and health-care realm. In the four decades since, Johnson has helped build the biotech industry and earned a reputation as a thoughtful investor, trusted adviser, and generous philanthropist.
Among his many passions are opera—for a decade he chaired the board of the San Francisco Opera, helping it through a difficult era—flying, teaching entrepreneurship, track and field, and fishing. Johnson, a nationally ranked runner in college, regularly attends the Olympic Games. From his father, a track coach, he received his nickname, his love of running, and several important lessons about competition: “At the end of the day, it is a sport,” he says. “You shake hands, win or lose, and move on.”
Hiroshi Mikitani, MBA 1993
Hiroshi Mikitani barely knew the word “entrepreneur” when he arrived at Soldiers Field in 1991, but after going through a few hundred case studies, a lightbulb lit up. “It was in an HBS classroom that I first considered starting my own company,” says Mikitani, who, at 47, is one of Japan’s youngest and most successful entrepreneurs.
In 1997, after considerable success at the Industrial Bank of Japan, Mikitani launched Tokyo-based Rakuten, a 10,000-person company that began as an online shopping mall and now includes banking, travel, e-book, and credit card divisions. With a market capitalization of approximately $14 billion in fiscal year 2012, Rakuten—which means “optimism”—is a household name in Japan and is rapidly going global. Recent partnerships include acquisitions or joint ventures in Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Indonesia, and the United States.
Mikitani, the father of two young children, is often seen as representing the new Japan; he dresses casually, owns a baseball team, shuns some of Japan’s traditional business formalities, and led the 2011 tsunami relief effort. In 2010, he declared that all Rakuten employees needed to be proficient in English. As Mikitani sees it, in order to compete globally, Japanese companies must to be able to communicate. His “Englishnization” requirement—the subject of an HBS case study—includes programs designed to help staff pass proficiency tests. Admitting the policy is “drastic” and “controversial,” Mikitani says simply: “If we want to have one single global organization, we need to all speak the same language.”
E. Roe Stamps IV, MBA 1974
Roe Stamps took a significant risk when he left a successful career at one of Boston’s leading venture capital firms to launch his own company. Together with a longtime colleague, in 1984 he founded Summit Partners with a focus on helping thriving companies expand significantly, particularly those that had avoided upfront venture capital funding.
The risk, however, paid off thanks to Stamps’s ability to both attract investors and guide entrepreneurs in growing their companies. In a short time, Stamps helped build one of the most well-respected firms in the country, and today Summit’s global operations have $14 billion under management. The firm has overseen more than 125 IPOs in a variety of sectors, including energy, health care, electronics, and business services. “Our goal was to make sure we stayed in the upper quartile of our industry, and we did,” says Stamps, who holds a BS and an MS in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech.
Since passing the Summit torch to his partners in 2001, Stamps has focused his considerable energy on the family foundation that he and his wife, Penny, run. In addition to supporting local endeavors such as botanic gardens, pet shelters, and arts organizations near their Miami home, the Stampses have partnered with some two dozen (and counting) universities around the country to offer more than 300 merit scholarships to the very best and brightest students. “We have 120 new Stamps Scholars starting this year, and are close to our run rate goal of 500. We are building a community of overachievers and helping them to achieve even more,” says Stamps, who is, obviously, leading the group by example.
Andrew H. Tisch, MBA 1977
In the 1950s, Andrew Tisch recalls his mother breaking up squabbles between her four sons by telling them, “I don’t worry. One of these days you are going to be best friends and partners.”
“Sure enough, she was right,” says Tisch, seated in his office at the Loews Corporation headquarters in Manhattan, where he shares leadership of the company with his brother Jim and cousin Jonathan. Loews, once merely a movie theater company, was transformed by Tisch’s father and uncle, who parlayed the purchase of a single New Jersey hotel into what is now one of the largest diversified holding companies in the United States.
Tisch studied hotel administration at Cornell and then joined Loews in the marketing department of one of its subsidiaries. When Loews acquired the Bulova Watch Company in 1979, Tisch visited the company to assess it. “The place is a disaster,” he told his father and uncle. “Go fix it,” they replied. Tisch spent 10 years at Bulova, leading a team that saved the company from bankruptcy and building a profitable business.
Among the many organizations that have benefited from Tisch’s leadership are the Wildlife Conservation Society, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and Cornell, where he is vice chairman of the board. Politically, Tisch is a cofounder of No Labels, a nonpartisan group dedicated to restoring fiscal integrity in the US government. A member of the School’s Board of Dean’s Advisors, Tisch says his admiration for his HBS professors remains strong. “Case-method teaching requires amazing choreography,” he observes.