28 May 2019
Harvard Business School Honors Five Graduates with Alumni Achievement Award
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(LtoR): Michael G. Mullen, Marla Beck, Álvaro Rodríguez Arregui, Tracy P. Palandjian, and Michael R. Bloomberg
Photo: Susan Young

BOSTON—Harvard Business School (HBS) today conferred its most important honor, the Alumni Achievement Award, on five distinguished graduates as part of the Class Day ceremony for the MBA Class of 2019, who will receive their degrees tomorrow at Commencement.

This year’s Award recipients are Marla Beck (MBA/MPA 1998), CEO of Bluemercury, Inc., a luxury beauty retail chain she cofounded in 1999; Michael R. Bloomberg (MBA 1966), founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term mayor of New York City; Michael G. Mullen (AMP 109, 1991), the 17th chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama; Tracy P. Palandjian (MBA 1997), CEO and cofounder of Social Finance, a nonprofit impact investing organization dedicated to mobilizing capital to drive social progress; and Álvaro Rodríguez Arregui (MBA 1995), managing partner of IGNIA, a venture capital firm he cofounded in 2007 that invests in entrepreneurs who are bringing goods and services to Mexico’s emerging middle class.

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. As such, they represent the best of the School’s alumni body. Exemplary role models, they inspire all those who aspire to have an impact on both business and society.

More detailed information on each of the recipients follows below and in this link to the booklet (PDF) prepared especially for the occasion:

Marla Beck (MBA/MPA 1998) is CEO of Bluemercury, Inc., a luxury beauty retail chain she cofounded in 1999. Beck originally conceived of the business as an online company, but she changed course early on to focus on neighborhood stores. That move disrupted the beauty business by bringing prestige cosmetics to stand-alone shops that offer expert beauty advice. In 2015, Macy’s, Inc., acquired Bluemercury, which now has almost 200 stores. Beck, who has appeared on the cover of Inc. magazine twice, is the subject of an HBS case study and a former HBS Entrepreneur-in-Residence. She and her husband, who is also her business partner, are the parents of three children. A native of Oakland, California, she holds a BA in political economy from UC Berkeley.

Michael R. Bloomberg (MBA 1966) is the founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term mayor of New York City. He has long been one of the world’s most innovative and active leaders on climate change, public health, gun violence, and other critical issues. The financial information company he launched in 1981, Bloomberg LP, revolutionized the investment industry. Elected mayor in 2001, just weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Bloomberg led New York City’s resounding recovery. During his time in office, he raised high school graduation rates by 40 percent, increased life expectancy by three years, and created a record number of jobs. Bloomberg has given away $6.4 billion, and his foundation works in cities and countries across the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. A father of two daughters, he holds a BS in electrical engineering from Johns Hopkins University.

Michael G. Mullen (AMP 109, 1991) served as 17th chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. As chairman, he helped repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” thus enabling gay and lesbian people to serve openly in the military. He also promoted counter-terrorism tactics that culminated in the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. In 1987, he received the Stockdale Award for Inspirational Leadership. Together with his wife, Deborah, he serves as an advocate for the families of military personnel who have died in the line of duty. Mullen received an MS in operations research from the Navy Postgraduate School and a BS in systems engineering from the US Naval Academy, from which his two sons also graduated.

Tracy P. Palandjian (MBA 1997) is CEO and cofounder of Social Finance, a nonprofit impact investing organization dedicated to mobilizing capital to drive social progress. At Social Finance, she has pioneered the Social Impact Bond and other “pay-for-success” strategies to close the skills gap, increase economic mobility, reduce homelessness, and improve early childhood outcomes. Previously, she was a managing director of the Parthenon Group, where she established the company’s nonprofit consulting practice. Palandjian, who grew up in Hong Kong, served as vice chair of the Harvard Board of Overseers and is a past board chair of Facing History and Ourselves. A mother of three daughters, she holds an AB in economics from Harvard and graduated from HBS as a Baker Scholar.

Álvaro Rodríguez Arregui (MBA 1995) is managing partner of IGNIA, a venture capital firm he cofounded in 2007 that invests in entrepreneurs who are bringing goods and services to Mexico’s emerging middle class. Now the largest VC firm in Mexico, IGNIA has $200 million under management in fintech, financial services, online marketplaces, and software. A native of Mexico, Rodríguez is passionate about rowing and was a medalist in the 1990 Central American Games and 1991 Pan-American Games. After HBS, he joined Accion International and then spent several years in Mexico’s corporate sector while chairing boards in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. Married for 25 years and a father of twin sons, Rodríguez earned a BS in economics at the Instituto Technológico Autónomo de México.

The mission of Harvard Business School is to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. Every day more than 80,000 HBS graduates strive to make these words a reality in a wide array of organizations that affect the lives of millions of people around the globe. Since 1968, the School has honored a number of outstanding men and women with the Alumni Achievement Award.

Contacts

Cullen Schmitt
cschmitt+hbs.edu
617-495-6155