Photo: Susan Young
BOSTON—The Harvard Business School MBA Class of 2016 concluded their first day of classes on Monday by watching a live case discussion play out among five distinguished alumni, each recipients of the School’s Alumni Achievement Award. This year’s recipients of the School’s highest honor were: Gerald Chertavian, CEO and founder of Year Up; Ashraf M. Dahod, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Altiostar Networks; Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder, chairwoman, and CEO of Care.com; Jonathan M. Nelson, founder and CEO of Providence Equity Partners LLC; and Wendell P. Weeks, chairman and CEO of Corning Incorporated. The awardees were joined on stage by six incoming students, selected at random from the audience, for a case discussion on the troubled grocery store chain Market Basket, moderated by HBS Dean Nitin Nohria. It was a lively and enlightening example of the School's renowned case method in action, an exercise the class of 2016 will participate in several hundred times over the next two years.
The alumni awardees proved to be excellent role models, showcasing how to field a cold call and build on the statements of others. Their professional and personal accomplishments gave the entering students an inspiring glimpse of what the future may hold for them. Each year since 1968, the School bestows the Alumni Achievement Award on a select group of outstanding graduates who have contributed significantly to their companies and communities, while upholding the highest standards and values in everything they do.
"These graduates set a very high standard for our students in terms of integrity, personal and professional achievement, and contributions to both business and society," said Dean Nohria. "They are prime examples of what our students can accomplish in their lives and careers. They epitomize our mission of educating leaders who make a difference in the world."
The 2014 Alumni Achievement Award recipients are:
Gerald Chertavian (MBA 1992)
Gerald Chertavian is founder and CEO of Year Up, an intensive one-year training program that serves low income youth ages 18-24, providing the technical, professional, and communication skills to empower these urban young adults to transition to careers and higher education. Year Up has been recognized by Fast Company and The Monitor Group as one of the top 25 organizations using business excellence to engineer social change. Chertavian began his career at Chemical Bank and then cofounded Conduit Communications, which became one of the UK’s fastest growing technology companies. After selling Conduit to i-Cube, Chertavian turned his attention to opportunities for others. He serves on the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and is chairman of the Roxbury Community College Board of Trustees. Chertavian holds a BA in economics from Bowdoin College.
Ashraf M. Dahod (MBA 1981)
Ash Dahod is serial entrepreneur who has launched six startups, each of which has capitalized on a new opportunity in the tech space. His latest endeavor, Altiostar Networks, provides mobile network operators with the equipment required to deploy and expand their LTE networks quickly and efficiently. Before Altiostar, Dahod was the SVP and general manager of Mobile Internet Technology Group at Cisco Systems which was created after Cisco acquired Starent Network in 2009. Dahod cofounded Starent Networks in 2000 and took the company public in 2007. Previously, Dahod cofounded NetCore Systems, Inc. in 1996 and served as its president and CEO. Dahod holds degrees from the University of Bombay, the University of Michigan, Stanford, Northeastern, and Harvard.
Sheila Lirio Marcelo (MBA 1998/JD 1999)
Sheila Lirio Marcelo is founder, chairwoman, and CEO of Care.com, the largest online care destination in the world, with more than 11.8 million members across 16 countries. Marcelo founded Care.com in 2006 to transform the way families and businesses around the world address their care needs. A former management consultant, Marcelo was VP of product management and marketing at Upromise and then served as general manager at TheLadders.com before becoming an Entrepreneur in Residence at Matrix Partners and launching Care.com. She is a trustee of the Philippine Development Foundation, a nonprofit that regularly works with the Philippine government on education, innovation, and entrepreneurship initiatives. She graduated magna cum laude from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in economics and holds a JD/MBA from Harvard. At HBS, she received the Dean’s Award.
Jonathan M. Nelson (MBA 1983)
Jonathan Nelson is CEO of Providence Equity, a firm he founded in 1989 that pioneered an industry sector-based approach to private equity. Providence has become the world’s leading private equity firm focused on media, communications, education, and information investments. Based in the firm’s headquarters in Providence, Rhode Island, Nelson is a director of numerous Providence portfolio companies, including The Chernin Group, MLS Media, Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), Univision Communications, and Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network. Previously, he was a managing director of Narragansett Capital, which he joined in 1983. At Narragansett, he specialized in private equity investments in the cable television, broadcasting, and publishing sectors. Nelson is a trustee of his alma mater, Brown University, as well as of The Rockefeller University. He serves on the board of Newport Festivals Foundation.
Wendell P. Weeks (MBA 1987)
Wendell Weeks has served as Corning’s CEO since April 2005 and chairman of the board since April 2007. He has been a member of the company’s board of directors since December 2000. As CEO, Weeks has focused on creating new growth opportunities and building a bigger, more balanced company. In his 31 years with Corning, Weeks has held a variety of financial, business development, commercial, and general management roles, including strategic positions in the company’s television, specialty glass, and telecommunications businesses. Weeks is a graduate of Lehigh University and was a Baker Scholar at HBS. He serves on the board of directors at Merck & Co. Inc., the Corning Museum of Glass, and the Corning Incorporated Foundation.