01 Sep 2011

Five Graduates Receive the 2011 Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award


BOSTON—In a series of special events yesterday, including a panel discussion attended by the 918 members of the MBA Class of 2013 on their first day of school, Harvard Business School (HBS) bestowed its highest honor, the Alumni Achievement Award, on five distinguished graduates: Peter Harf, chairman and CEO, Joh. A. Benckiser SE; Seth Klarman, president, The Baupost Group; Robert Kraft, founder, chairman and CEO, The Kraft Group; Karen Gordon Mills, administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration; and Hüsnü Özyegin, founder and chairman, FiBA Group.

"These outstanding 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 Nitin 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."

Since 1968, with the help of suggestions from alumni, students, faculty, and friends, the School has selected a number 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.

Peter Harf (MBA 1974)

A native of Germany, Peter Harf heads the privately held Joh. A. Benckiser SE, which owns Coty, Labelux, and stakes in Reckitt Benckiser and Burger King. In 2002, he joined the board of Anheuser-Busch InBev, then Interbrew and today the largest brewer in the world. He has served as chairman there since 2006. In these roles, Harf has left his mark on household products, cosmetics, quick-service restaurants, luxury goods, and beverages. He has also had an impact on tens of thousands of blood cancer patients by facilitating some 26,000 bone marrow transplants through DKMS, a nonprofit company inspired by his late wife, Mechtild, who died of leukemia a number of years ago. Today, DKMS has almost three million registered bone marrow donors worldwide.

Read his award profile.

Seth Klarman (MBA 1982)

While a student at HBS, Seth Klarman met Professor William Poorvu, who recruited him to manage a pool of capital in the newly formed Baupost Group after he graduated. It turned out that this job gave him the perfect platform on which to implement the value investing strategy he had developed on Wall Street before entering the School. Over three decades, Klarman has built the Baupost Group into one of the most successful hedge fund companies in the world. While such accolades are important to him, he is equally proud of the firm's culture, which emphasizes mutual respect and teamwork. A family foundation supports medical, educational, religious, and social service organizations, including Boston's renowned McLean and Beth Israel Deaconess hospitals and Combined Jewish Philanthropies.

Read his award profile.

Robert Kraft (MBA 1965)

The seeds of the family-owned Kraft Group were sowed in 1965, when Robert Kraft went to work at Rand-Whitney, a packaging company he later acquired in a leveraged buyout. Seven years later, he founded International Forest Products, now one of the largest privately-held paper trading companies in the world. Kraft gradually expanded the company, which now does business around the globe, adding holdings in sports and entertainment, real estate, and private equity. In 1994, he bought the New England Patriots and turned the then struggling team into what many observers regard as the NFL's model franchise. Kraft and his late wife, Myra, also became involved in numerous charities and causes in the Boston area, establishing themselves firmly as pillars of the community.

Read his award profile.

Karen Gordon Mills (MBA 1977)

Karen Mills serves as the twenty-third administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), an agency founded in 1953 that has delivered millions of loans, loan guarantees, contracts, counseling sessions, and other forms of assistance to small businesses. She leads a team of 3,000 employees as well as 2,000 on-call staff who work on disaster relief. A former McKinsey consultant who also worked at General Foods and in venture capital, Mills believes the SBA can stimulate "not just initial product creation, but production innovation, manufacturing innovation, and the process that turns U.S. inventions into U.S. jobs." Since President Obama appointed her two years ago, she has met with business owners in 36 states.

Read her award profile.

Hüsnü Özyegin (MBA 1969)

One of Turkey's most successful business leaders, Hüsnü Özyegin is a self-made man. After earning his MBA and working at IBM and Arthur D. Little, he returned to his native land to complete his military service. In 1987, he launched Finansbank by selling both of his homes and moving his family into a rental. Özyegin now oversees FiBA Group, a $6 billion portfolio of investments in the financial services industry that includes supermarket chains, shopping malls, wind energy, and banks. In 1990, he launched a family foundation to support Turkey's social, cultural, and economic development, with an interest, in particular, in eliminating disparities in education. Özyegin University, for example, which opened in 2008, will eventually serve 6,000 students whose families cannot afford to pay for their higher education.

Read his award profile.


Jim Aisner

Cullen Schmitt

About Harvard Business School

Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 250 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and PhD degrees, as well as more than 175 Executive Education programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching, to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. The School and its curriculum attract the boldest thinkers and the most collaborative learners who will go on to shape the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.