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Back in the 1980s, while working as a high-priced management consultant, Jim Koch (MBA ’74) decided what this country really needed was an exceptional glass of beer. He drained his savings, maxed out his credit cards, and using an old family recipe perfected in his kitchen sink, launched Samuel Adams Boston Lager, the first successful U.S. “craft beer” and the impetus for the microbrewery revolution.

Koch, who is chairman of The Boston Beer Company, was similarly unconventional in assessing the talents of one of his executive hires, Martin Roper (MBA ’90). Koch first met Roper at a wedding in 1993 where he watched admiringly as Roper deftly managed a social encounter involving a former girlfriend, according to the Boston Business Journal (February 23-­March 1, 2001).

“You go to Harvard and you realize smart people are a dime a dozen,” Koch observed. “When I saw how he handled what I thought was an impossible situation, I said, ‘Yeah, Martin, go.’” Six months later, Koch offered Roper a job as vice president of operations. A Baker Scholar, the England-born Roper came to Boston Beer in 1994 after specializing in turning around small Midwestern manufacturing companies; last January, he was named CEO. Intent on having Samuel Adams perceived as a world-class product, Roper wants to move Boston Beer beyond its image as a local craft-brewer. “We’re already distancing ourselves from that,” he observed. “We need to take our brand to the next level.”

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Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1978, Section J

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