BOSTON— As the 919 members of the Harvard Business School MBA Class of 2014 completed their first day of classes last week, they found five outstanding role models waiting for them as HBS bestowed its highest honor, the Alumni Achievement Award, on five distinguished graduates: Cynthia Carroll, chief executive of Anglo American PLC; Franklin P. "Pitch" Johnson, Jr., founding partner of Asset Management Company; Hiroshi Mikitani, chairman and CEO of Rakuten, Inc.; E. Roe Stamps IV, founding managing partner of Summit Partners; Karen Gordon Mills, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration; and Andrew H. Tisch, co-chairman of Loews Corporation. Dean Nitin Nohria presented the honorees to the first-year students at a special event in Burden Auditorium that included a panel discussion led by Senior Associate Dean Bill Sahlman.
Since 1968, with the help of suggestions from alumni, students, faculty, and friends, the School has annually named a select group of outstanding men and women to receive this award. Throughout their careers, these distinguished graduates have contributed significantly to their companies and communities, while upholding the highest standards and values in everything they do.
"These are people who are ambassadors, who stand for everything our mission is about," said Dean Nitin Nohria. "These are the leaders who we believe make a difference in the world and exemplify everything we hope our graduates will accomplish."
Cynthia Carroll (MBA 1989)
With a master's degree in geology and 25 years of experience, Cynthia Carroll was more than familiar with the mining industry. However, as the first woman and non–South African to lead London-headquartered Anglo American, one of the world's largest mining companies, her 2007 appointment made headlines. Carroll was hired as a change agent, and her combination of compassion, strategic vision, and business acumen has had a deep impact not just on the 95-year-old company, but on the entire mining industry. Her steadfast commitment to setting new safety standards for the industry has dramatically decreased the number of deaths in Anglo American's mines worldwide. Carroll's reputation has also been built on strong management and excellent financial performance. In her five-year tenure, Carroll has diversified the mix of commodities the company holds through partnerships and acquisitions. Operating profits in 2011 reached a record $11 billion, while earnings grew 23 percent and debt was reduced.
Franklin P. "Pitch" Johnson Jr. (MBA 1952)
Although he does not regard himself as a pioneer, many would say Pitch Johnson helped create what is today known as Silicon Valley. In 1962, he formed a venture capital firm with his friend Bill Draper (MBA 1954), helping to launch and advise around 250 businesses, including Amgen and Tandem Computers. After three years, the pair sold their portfolio to Sutter Hill Ventures, and Johnson founded Asset Management Company in 1967. Since then, Johnson has earned a reputation not just as a smart investor, but also as an insightful manager, a man of high ethical standards, and a team player. Many would say his advice and counsel have been the key elements that helped entrepreneurs transform a good idea into a great business. The awards and accolades he has received attest to his many contributions to the world of business, as do his outside activities, including presenting papers on entrepreneurship, venture capital, and democracy throughout the world. His philanthropic efforts include support of the San Francisco Opera as well as a family foundation that supports a variety of educational and cultural institutions, including an HBS professorship.
Hiroshi Mikitani (MBA 1993)
When the city of Kobe was devastated in 1995 by what was then one of the worst earthquakes in Japan's history, native Hiroshi Mikitani decided he wanted to revitalize Japan's economy. He resigned from the Industrial Bank of Japan (IBJ) and launched Rakuten, a web-based shopping mall designed to help mom-and-pop retail stores sell their products online. While he initially funded the company with his own money, he has spent the last 15 years building Rakuten into one of Japan's most successful businesses, with 10,000 employees worldwide and a market capitalization of approximately $14 billion. Today, the company includes travel, e-books, credit cards, online shopping, banking, and the Rakuten Golden Eagles baseball team. The premiere e-commerce company in Japan, it competes globally with the likes of Amazon.com and eBay. As part of its growth strategy, Rakuten has acquired Buy.com in the United States, Ikeda in Brazil, Play.com in the United Kingdom, and Kobo in Canada, and it recently spearheaded a $100-million investment in Pinterest.
E. Roe Stamps IV (MBA 1974)
After graduating from HBS, Roe Stamps spent a decade learning the ropes of venture capital in Chicago and Boston. But by 1984 he was ready to launch his own endeavor. With colleague Steve Woodsum, Stamps launched Summit Partners, a leading private equity and venture capital firm with investments in software, communications technology, semiconductors and electronics, and financial services. With $14 billion under management and 150 employees, Summit has offices in Palo Alto, London, and Mumbai and has raised 16 funds since its founding. Stepping down from the company's day-to-day operations in 2001, Stamps is now focused on philanthropy. He and his family have funded a variety of programs at their alma maters, including the Stamps Reading Room at the HBS Baker Library. Their primary interest, however, is the Stamps Scholars Program, which works with colleges to offer top students full scholarships as well as access to supplemental funds for study-abroad programs and internships.
Andrew H. Tisch (MBA 1977)
"It was a genuine ‘American dream’ story," says Andrew Tisch, speaking of his father and uncle, who parlayed the purchase of a New Jersey hotel into what today is the hugely successful Loews Corporation. The firm is one of the largest diversified holding companies in the United States, with interests in commercial insurance, offshore drilling, oil and natural gas production, pipelines, and luxury lodging. Following in the footsteps of their forebears, Andrew, his brother Jim, and cousin Jonathan run the company today. Under their leadership, revenues reached $14 billion in 2011. Tisch has also dedicated himself to philanthropy. After September 11, 2001, he mobilized New York City's entertainment, cultural, and sports outlets to donate tickets to victims' families. In addition, he supports public K-12 education, chaired the New York City Parks Foundation for five years, and cofounded No Labels, a nonpartisan group focused on restoring fiscal integrity in the US government.