Winter 2014

Winter 2014

Dean’s Message – Gary Cohen, Assistant Dean of Executive Programs

Dear EMBA Alumni,

I hope this message finds each of you doing well. With this newsletter I want to welcome all of our China EMBA alumni. We are all part of one Smith School family and it is exciting to address all of our EMBA alums at one time.

We are currently planning to create an EMBA alumni directory. This would include all EMBA alums from around the world, providing fabulous networking opportunities for all of you. Stay tuned and you will hear more about this in the coming weeks.

Our China Cohort 5 students visited this fall for a wonderful residency week and graduation. Cohort 13 in College Park is immersed in the program with only 6 months to go until their graduation. I was just in Beijing while China’s Cohort 6 was enjoying their Global Entrepreneurship and Innovation class. College Park’s Cohort 14 began the program January 21st and China’s Cohort 7 will begin in April.

We are committed to becoming more deeply connected to each of you, our fabulous alumni. It is through our mutual strength and support that our EMBA program will continue to elevate to new heights. Thanks to all of you who have been so actively engaged with us at Smith. Our hope is that all of our alumni will become more deeply engaged in 2014.


Gary Cohen, Assistant Dean

In this issue:

College Park EMBA 14 Residency Week

On Tuesday, Jan. 21, EMBA Cohort 14 started with 41 students. Special recognition to Keith Alm EMBA 11, Brian Hopman EMBA 9 and Shan Maitra EMBA 13 for meeting with prospective students to encourage them as they consider this enormous undertaking. In addition, thank you to current EMBA 13 students Emad AlJunaidi, Dan Cowens, Farhan Mustafa, Shawn Rivers and Mario Simpson for suggesting Smith’s EMBA to their friends/colleagues who are now members of Cohort 14. EMBA 14 has an average of 15 years work experience with 9 years of management experience. In addition to a new record of having four medical doctors, we have two married couples embarking on the adventure together. The cohort is 32 percent female and 29 percent of international origins. Industry and functional diversity remains as diverse as our previous cohorts.

Hopefully you can meet our newest members of the Smith EMBA Community at the May 7 annual EMBA Panel & Happy Hour at the Mayflower Hotel – details to follow.

Smith Executive Education Capabilities Website

Continue your organization’s learning with the Smith School of Business

Smith’s Office of Executive Education partners with international and domestic companies to address their learning and development needs. Our multifaceted capacities include both functional thought leadership in such areas as finance, ecommerce, etc., with specific strengths in global strategy, critical thinking and problem solving, innovation and risk management.

We ask that you consider sharing details of our capabilities with your learning and development leaders and talk up Terp talent where you work.

Visit to get a quick overview and download our capabilities PowerPoint, as well as obtain more detailed information about some of the executive education Smith is providing to companies and organizations all over the world.

Meet Your Executive MBA Career Coach

Rachel Loock, Associate Director
EMBA Career Coaching, Programming and Outreach

Rachel Loock

Rachel Loock is the Associate Director of EMBA Career Coaching, Programming and Outreach. Cohort ’14 is the first Smith EMBA cohort to have a full time staff person dedicated to career services and programming. In this role, she provides current and alumni EMBA students with career-related coaching, advising and other job search assistance to include:

  • Administering career assessments
  • Reviewing career documents
  • Conducting mock interviews

She also plans and implements career programming that supports students in reaching their career and professional development goals. EMBA career programming will be offered on EMBA professional development days. Career Leader, an assessment that examines how aligning interests, skills, motivators, and culture are key to a successful career fit, will be the first career programming event presented on March 8,, 2014. Additional career workshops such as how to network, enhancing interview skills and honing leadership skills through improvisation, will also be offered.

Rachel also serves as the EMBA liaison to employers, executive recruiters and EMBA alumni who seek executive-level talent.

China Smith EMBA Cohort 5 Graduates

China EMBA

In Sep. 2013, faculty, staff and guests assembled in Tyser Auditorium in Van Munching Hall to witness the graduation of Smith EMBA China Cohort 5.

Cohort representative, Yanxiang (David) Liu, President of China, Ltd., spoke at the ceremony, which marks the first graduating class under Dean Alex Triantis’ leadership. Triantis marked this memorable occasion by acknowledging the commitment the Smith School has to this program and to the newest group of alumni.

The 6th cohort of China Executive MBAs are currently studying in Beijing and will come to College Park in Sep. 2014 to participate in their capstone week and graduation ceremonies.

Spotlight on EMBA Alumni: Helen Zhang & Liam Brown

Helen Zhang, Smith China EMBA Alum

Helen Zhang

Helen Zhang, HR Business and Technical Leadership Executive with IBM Greater China Group, graduated from EMBA Cohort 2 at the end of 2005.

She speaks to the comprehensive learning modules designed, especially the financial related and strategy related sessions. As a human resources professional, her pre program view in financial and strategy were limited and segmented. After the systematic learning, she built a better understanding of corporate strategy and financial management.

Zhang also felt the global and industry diversity of the case work allowed her to work more effectively in her globally integrated company. The program also afforded her more in-depth networking and problem solving opportunities with her classmates.

As a result of her experience in the Smith EMBA, Zhang has built stronger thought leadership, recognized by both her manager and company. After this program, she was promoted and offered a global assignment opportunity with IBM’s U.S. headquarters.

Liam Brown, Smith College Park EMBA Alum

Liam Brown

Liam Brown, EMBA Cohort 3, President, North America, Select & Extended Stay Lodging & Owner Franchise Services at Marriott International, graduated in 2005. Earning his EMBA at the Smith School has helped him move up several levels in the organization, Brown said. At the time he began his EMBA, he was running the Fairfield Inn and Suites brand for Marriott, which was challenged in all areas —growth, performance and guest satisfaction. Brown’s EMBA classes provided a framework for setting strategy and direction that he found helpful in addressing the problems with the Fairfield brand.

According to Brown, it was a challenge to identify the “right” problems. It was also a challenge to make changes, because the Fairfield hotels were all franchise-owned. He ultimately decided to cut 20 percent of the hotels from the Fairfield system in order to rejuvenate the brand.

“A brand is only as good as its weakest link,” said Brown. “If the brand is weak, you don’t have the ability to create confidence in your franchise owners. The core of the brand was financially sound. I made sure we had a value proposition that worked for our guests, an investor value proposition that worked for franchise owners, and a brand we could be proud of under the Marriott umbrella.”

It took four years to turn Fairfield into the number one brand in the Marriott pipeline, resulting in double the profit contributions to Marriott International while enjoying 40 consecutive months of market share growth.

“The most valuable thing about the EMBA experience was the ability to come to the College Park campus every other weekend and sharpen the saw. Every weekend helped crystallize and shape my own thinking,” he said. “Very challenging though; the first three months I thought I was going to die. But it’s amazing what you can get used to.”

Brown found his EMBA classmates to be as valuable a resource as the faculty teaching his classes alluding to their industry diversity.

“It was a great experience to see the commonalities across all businesses, but also the many different ways people dealt with problems,” he said.

Smith Launches Online MBA Program

Online MBA

On Jan. 8, 19 students started the first Online MBA program traveling to College Park for their inaugural residency week. This initial cohort has an average age of 31 with nine years of work experience and is 42 percent female. Visit for more details on Cohort 1’s residency and program launch.

The Online MBA will have 4 intakes annually, requires the GMAT, combines asynchronous and synchronous learning and takes 21 months. Visit to learn more.

EMBA 11 Alumni Mike Geppi’s Integrata Signs Deal with NSA

Mike Geppi, EMBA 11, launched Integrata in fall 2012. This new venture commercializes a Wireless Intrusion Detection System (WIDS) developed and patented by the National Security Agency in response to the lack of required features and benefits available in commercially marketed WIDS. This technology provides a significantly higher level of threat detection and prevention for 802.11 Wireless Local Area Networking infrastructure than is currently available in the industry.

Team members include EMBA 11 cohort members: Mike Geppi, CEO; Tunde Ogungbade, CTO; Sandesh Jadhav, VP Product Dev.; Jason Walker, SVP Business Operations

Special thanks to EMBA 11 cohort members Nathan De Graw, Sirak Medhane, Elie Ashery and Doug Riley who have contributed significantly.

Integrata is now hiring software developers and looking for a marketing executive with cyber security domain expertise (EMBAs Preferred).

Vice Dean Joyce Russell Calls for Alumni VCs

In July 2014, Vice Dean Joyce Russell will conduct her 13th Business Simulation for the College Park EMBA 13 executives. Volunteers are welcome act as mock venture capitalists on Monday, July 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

If you haven’t volunteered in the past, it is a great way to network with other alumni and current students, as well as re-live the friendly competition without the late nights and stressed out team meetings. If you've volunteered before, you know it's a fun way to reconnect and provide valuable insights to the current students ― and you get to compete to be the best VC. And as you know, you will be well fed.

Email Joyce directly at if you are able to help.

Upcoming Smith School Events

Center for Financial Policy – Policy Chat
March 3, 2014

Troy Paredes, former Commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
"The Art and Science of Securities Regulation". Visit to learn more and register.

6th Annual Social Enterprise Symposium
March 7, 2014

Sponsored by PwC, Pepsi and NewDayUSA, this symposium explores the role of business in impacting sustainable environmental and social change. Visit to learn more and register.

Smith School Business Summit
March 28, 2014

Save the Date - join industry experts and Smith School students from full-time and part-time MBAs to Executive MBA students for in depth discussions on real time business topics. Visit to view prior speakers and topics and to see this year’s save the date.

9th Annual Cupid’s Cup
April 4, 2014

Join Smith for Cupid’s Cup, the annual entrepreneurship competition created by Kevin Plank ’96, founder and CEO of Under Armour. Visit to see previous finalists and winners. With $115,000 in funding and access to phenomenal networks, this ever-growing event is sure to draw a large crowd.

Emerging Markets Forum
April 25, 2014

Save the date for the annual forum cohosted with the Center for International Business and Research.

Annual EMBA Alumni, Current & Prospective Student Discussion Panel
May 7, 2014 6pm – 8 pm – Save the Date

Join members of the Smith Executive MBA community to discuss a real-time business issue via panels of EMBA alumni and Smith faculty industry experts. Topic and location TBA.

Smith EMBA Alumnus Announces 3rd Annual Seek & Find Dr. Bear Family Walk
Saturday, May 17, 2014

Pete Plotas, EMBA Cohort 9, and wife Alison invite you to join other EMBA alumni and their families for the 3rd Annual Seek and Find Dr. Bear Family Walk in support of Children's National Medical Center. It is a one mile, “at your own pace” family charity walk on the Rockville Millennium Trail to find Dr. Bear and other surprises hiding on the trail. You can join activities any time between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

A fun Saturday has been planned that you won’t want to miss: pictures with Dr. Bear, face painting, music, prizes, food trucks and more! Can’t attend? You can participate virtually. Register to receive your T-shirt by mail. You can show your support from afar and participate in our virtual walk.

Launched in 2011, BE GREAT is dedicated to Alexander James Plotas who died on September 2011 at 13 months of age due to respiratory complications from a severe form of immune deficiency after a successful bone marrow transplant. The BE GREAT Foundation enables advancements in curative treatments for children with immune deficiency by supporting improvements in bone marrow transplantation, medical equipment and educational programs for parents.

Visit for details and to register.

Alumni & Current Student Updates

Oscar Aldana, EMBA 12, launched venture Karlaca Coffee Company

Donnelly Bohan, EMBA 8, joined Leidos as their operations business manager.

Natalie Bradley, SAIC 2, joined Leidos in project management.

Chris Brickell, SAIC 4, accepted the role of business manager with Leidos.

Skot Butler, EMBA 12, accepted the promotion to vice president of sales, marketing and business development with Intelsat General Corporation.

Carolyn Davis Chipman, SAIC 1, accepted the role of capture manager with Leidos.

Brian Crutcher, SAIC 5, joined The Buffalo Group as a project manager.

Tony Davenport, EMBA 8, joined the aerospace and defense sales team with ESI.

Al Dominick, EMBA 6, was promoted to president of BankDirector.

Brian Donnelly, EMBA 8, accepted the role of program manager with Earth Resources Technology.

Terrill Drake, EMBA 11, was promoted to executive director and senior project advisor with the Robert H. Smith School of Business.

Carlos Echalar, SAIC 1, joined MICROS Systems, Inc. as senior vice president and chief human resources officer.

Bennett Finney, SAIC 3, accepted the role of controller with Nemetschek Vectorworks.

Brandon Ginsburg, SAIC 4, accepted the role of business development manager with Leidos.

Dan Glass, SAIC 4, joined Digital Signal Corporation as director of recruiting.

Meghan Callahan Good, SAIC 4, accepted the role of project manager with Leidos.

Chris Hartline, EMBA 11, became a principal with Aver Consulting Group.

Jeff Heisman, SAIC EMBA 6, joined TASC, Inc. as vice president of technology and innovation.

Chris Hiltbrand, EMBA 6, accepted the role of division vice president of human resources at General Dynamics Information Technology.

Clint Himmelberger, SAIC 3, accepted the role of manager of SEC Reporting with SAIC.

August Jackson, EMBA 7, has been named Chair of the Board with Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals.

Josh Jeffries, EMBA 10, and his wife Golda and son Jackson welcomed their second child Giuliana Kira Jeffries on 1/17 weighing 8.2lbs and 20.5 inches long.

Eric Johnson, SAIC EMBA 6, accepted the role of senior systems engineer with Leidos.

Ramu Kannappan, EMBA 5, joined Birlasoft as their Senior Director – Business Solutions.

Patrick Kerwin’s was promoted to process technology director with W.R. Grace. In addition, he and his wife welcomed second son Tyler Robert (7lbs 2 oz) born on Dec. 10, 2013 to their family.

Stella Kim, SAIC EMBA 6, was promoted to task order manager with SAIC.

Wonjin Kim, SAIC EMBA 5, joined Samsung Electronics America as a senior manager of consumer and market insights.

Brian Liss, SAIC EMBA 6, accepted the role of vice president, assistant secretary and assistant general counsel with Leidos.

Alycia Lynch, EMBA 11, accepted the role of director of quality management and compliance and enterprise shared services-IT with BAE.

John Macier, SAIC EMBA 6, joined Leidos as director of geospatial intelligence programs.

Luke McCormack, EMBA 2, accepted the role of CIO for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Mark McNickle, SAIC EMBA 1, became a principal with the Metavallo Group.

Carter Morris, EMBA 3, was promoted to executive vice president with American Association of Airport Executives.

Steve Morris, EMBA 11, became a principal with TeraThink Corporation.

Shaunte Newby, SAIC EMBA 1, joined business operations with Leidos.

Vassili Patrikis, EMBA 13, accepted the role of director of business intelligence with Asurion.

Rachel Pierre, EMBA 13, was promoted to director of clinical operations with Lutheran Social Services.

David Radcliffe, SAIC 1, accepted the role of senior vice president of business operations with Leidos.

Barry Reicher, EMBA 12, accepted the role of medical director of medical affairs and strategic development with AstraZeneca.

Lisa Richard, EMBA 8, accepted the role of vice president of health IT with Dovel Technologies.

Kevin Robinson, SAIC 5, joined Northrup Grumman as manager of pricing and cost estimating.

Chip Saltz, EMBA 9, joined Carey Financial, LLC as first vice president.

Patience Samson, SAIC 4, accepted the role of director of plans and analysis with Leidos.

Kara (Hedges) Sasse, EMBA 10, joined Gallup as head of product management and marketing.

Ryan Scott, EMBA 10, joined Blaylock Robert Van, LLC as senior vice president for business development.

Bob Smith, EMBA 12, accepted the role of senior manager with Accenture Federal Services.

Andrew Stifel, SAIC 5, joined Leidos as a senior program manager.

Bettina Stopford, SAIC 2, joined Conceras as vice president.

Viyas Sundaram, EMBA 4, was promoted to senior vice president of sales with mindSHIFT Technologies.

Brian Taylor, EMBA 3, has recently accepted the role of head of kits and assays with Abcam in Cambridge, England.

Richard Taylor, SAIC 1, accepted the role of vice president of assistant corporate controller with SAIC.

Horng Tern, EMBA 11, is now a security technology consultant with classmate Eric Noonan’s company CyberSheath.

Brian Thompson, SAIC 2, joined Leidos as a vice president.

Kelli Ann Tucker, SAIC 5, joined Booz Allen Hamilton.

Kelly Millspaugh Thompson, EMBA 8, launched venture Stylish Patina Vintage Rental.

Mark Tyson, EBMA 11, joined Vora Strategies Group as a senior portfolio manager.

Rao Vangaru, EMBA 7, has accepted the role of principal consultant with Oracle.

Joseph Wong, EMBA 3, accepted the role of director of talent acquisition and network operations with Time Warner Cable.

Rodney Yancey, SAIC 4, joined AT&T Global Business Solutions as an associate director of government program management.