01 Apr 2002
Professorship Brings Brierley's HBS Connection Full CircleRe: Tom Jones (MBA 1968)Topics:
M. Brierley (MBA '68), chairman and CEO of Brierley &
Partners, describes himself as "an accidental entrepreneur,"
having entered HBS as a chemical engineer planning to pursue a
management career in the oil industry. "HBS broadened my
horizons and served as the greenhouse in which I started my first
business," he says from his office in Dallas, Texas. Now,
with his generous endowment of the chair held by HBS professor
John A. Deighton, Brierley's involvement with the School
has come full circle. A specialist in marketing and information
technology, Deighton will no doubt nurture many future entrepreneurs
- accidental or otherwise - in his faculty role as the
Harold M. Brierley Professor of Business Administration.
After graduating as a Baker Scholar, Brierley entered
the DBA Program and worked as a research assistant for the legendary
HBS professor Charles M. Williams. While writing finance cases,
Brierley also volunteered to help his college fraternity find
a vendor to automate its 150,000 membership records. Failing to
find a specialist in the membership record-keeping arena, and
recognizing an opportunity, he and Thomas O. Jones (MBA '68)
cofounded Epsilon Data Management. The company soon became one
of the nation's foremost database marketing companies, helping
hundreds of America's leading membership organizations and
nonprofit groups with their fundraising and record-keeping efforts.
"In helping charities strengthen their relationships with
their donors and members, Epsilon engineered many of the ‘customer
relationship' techniques that make today's customer
loyalty programs so successful," says Brierley, who served
as Epsilon's president and CEO for its first ten years.
In 1980, serving as the sole outside consultant for
the design of American Airlines' AAdvantage program, Brierley
pioneered a customer loyalty program that would change the way
consumers would select their travel providers. "While the
goal of the program was to identify American's best customers,
establish a direct relationship, and ideally ‘shift share'
a bit, no one ever dreamed that frequentflier miles would become
a multibillion-dollar source of incremental airline revenue,"
he notes. In 1982, Brierley was named vice president of sales
and advertising for Pan American World Airways, where he launched
WorldPass - a loyalty program that generated $400 million
of incremental revenue for an airline with $3 billion in gross
After serving as senior vice president of marketing
for Continental Airlines, Brierley returned to his entrepreneurial
roots in 1985 to start a consulting firm specializing in the design
of customer loyalty programs. Brierley & Partners has evolved
into a technologybased marketing solutions company that helps
clients design and manage customer loyalty programs. With offices
in seven cities worldwide and over 250 employees, Brierley &
Partners' recent clients include Blockbuster, Hertz, Hilton,
Epson, Lufthansa, the NFL, Nokia, Sony, UPS, and United Airlines.
"Well-crafted programs have generated hundreds of millions
of dollars of incremental revenue for some of the world's
leading marketers, while ill-conceived programs have simply raised
the cost of doing business for others. Engineering loyalty is
an exciting blend of financial planning and creative thinking,"
says Brierley. "I'd design loyalty programs as a hobby,
if I weren't blessed to have been able to make it my vocation!"
Brierley's most recent loyalty venture is e-Rewards.
Participating members are paid to receive relevant e-mail commercial
messages and research surveys. Sponsored by seven of America's
leading brands, more than 750,000 affluent consumers have enrolled.
"Rewarding consumers for their time will be the next major
loyalty battleground, as marketers struggle to establish and maintain
direct relationships with their customers," declares Brierley.
"Hal Brierley has been ahead of the curve on many
great marketing ideas," says Professor John Deighton. "He
pioneered database marketing when he founded Epsilon, and now
he is making permission e-mail marketing work. My research is
in interactive marketing, so it's been fascinating to meet
Hal and learn what it takes to live on the frontier of marketing
practice for three decades."
"John Deighton's passion for marketing and
the art of managing customer relationships makes him the perfect
candidate to broaden the next generation's understanding
of effective customer relationship management or ‘customer
loyalty' execution," observes Brierley.
A board member of numerous organizations, including
the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Dallas Center for the Performing
Arts, KERA-TV, The Dallas Opera, and the University of Maryland
College Park Foundation, Brierley is a firm believer in the importance
of giving back to the community. "It's a source of deep
satisfaction that the database management tools and techniques
first developed at Epsilon have allowed hundreds of nonprofit
organizations to profitably strengthen their ties with their constituents,"
he declares. "Effective use of the computer for segmentation
and personalization has allowed organizations to increase dramatically
their annual giving. In the years ahead, effective use of e-mail
will again revolutionize how these organizations raise funds -
and lower their costs substantially."
As a member of the Board of the Directors of the Associates,
Brierley is deeply committed to the School's role in educating
the world's future leaders. "HBS changed my life and
freed me to pursue my own entrepreneurial dreams. It's exciting
to help tomorrow's creative thinkers find their own opportunities,"
says Brierley. "I consider myself fortunate to be able to
share with the School and its future students a bit of a life's
learning and to be a part of HBS's continuing mission."
Class of MBA 1968, Section B