In 2001, while he served as president of South Africa, the late Nelson Mandela received a letter that he took as a call to action. In the letter, a mother asked Mandela to help fund a surgery meant to repair her daughter's facial disfigurement, "to give her a smile."
The request compelled Mandela to invite family friend Marc Lubner '84 to discuss how children requiring facial surgeries could be helped. Lubner visited Mandela's home, where the two of them laid the groundwork for the Smile Foundation.
Lubner knew his task would be to run the foundation in a responsible, professional and sensitive manner. Coming from an investment and entrepreneurial background, Lubner possessed a perfect mix of philanthropy and business acumen.
This balance has allowed Lubner to create a sustainable vision for the future of the now 13-year-old Smile Foundation, which helps develop facilities and improve techniques in seven state-run hospitals where such surgeries are being performed. To date, the foundation has helped almost 1,000 children.
"We have already commenced the construction of a burns unit at Medical University of South Africa, the first of many, we hope," Lubner said. "We will continue to do whatever is necessary to assist hospitals in ensuring that disadvantaged children obtain the surgeries and pre- and post-operative support they require."
Despite his passing last December, Mandela remains the nonprofit's "Patron-in-Chief," Lubner said. "The Smile Foundation will always be one of his 'children.'"
Alumni amp up NYC pitch trek
Kellogg's Asset Management Practicum, an experiential learning program where students manage an investment portfolio, encourages its participants to get inside the heads of successful managers to discover how they think, decide and act.
At AMP's second New York City Trek in November 2013, students took that thinking to the investment world's big stage, pitching stock valuation analyses to some of the industry's most prominent practitioners.
Since the practicum's inception, Kellogg alumni have been instrumental to its success in many ways, including donating funds to the Kellogg endowment portfolio the AMP students manage, serving as advisors and offering feedback on student pitches. AMP advisory board members Scott Fearon '83, Malcolm Jones '83, Avi Nash '81 and Robin Yoshimura '94 also led a panel discussion at the event.
At the pitch session, students got feedback from expert portfolio managers, including Stephen F. Mandel, Jr. of Lone Pine Capital, James Covello from Goldman Sachs, Mark Cooper of PIMCO and Steven G. Einhorn of Omega.
"The New York City Trek provides the AMP students access to some of the leading money managers in the world," said Phillip Braun, clinical professor of finance. "It gives students access to critical knowledge in the field, a real Wall Street perspective on stock selection and portfolio management."
Amy Ng '08 brings 'design thinking' to neediest populations
When Amy Ng '08 began her stint as a United States Department of Health and Human Services Entrepreneur Fellow, she gave herself an ambitious goal: to improve the delivery of human services to America's neediest populations through the application of "design thinking."
Part of the second cohort of HHS entrepreneurs, Ng was the first to focus on the human services side of HHS. She identified ways grant makers could better understand the communities they serve and more optimally allocate funds based on responsive, concrete models that reflect grantees' real needs.
"Matching services to needs can be very helpful for communities," Ng said. "Trying to create a whole platform methodology that worked bottom-up in a grassroots model was an exciting challenge to bring to government services. "One of the goals of the program is to influence the way that government agencies interact with the public," Ng said.
"The way I approached that goal was by changing the questions asked of grantees to try to find more applicable information."
Ng says a key next step for future HHS fellows is to create enduring partnerships with universities and communities as a way to speed the application of concepts such as design thinking or lean operations in government agencies.
"That we're seeing how interdisciplinary business and design approaches can effectively interface with existing structures and organizations makes me very hopeful," Ng said.
Alumnus accelerates Indian tech startups
With India poised to become one of the world's largest tech markets, Prashant Gupta '06, co-founder of Microsoft Accelerator for Azure, sees how developing cloud, Internet and mobile startups in this environment is crucial to the nation's tech entrepreneurship.
Accelerator is a four-month program that selects "batches" of promising early-stage companies and provides them access to workspaces, technology resources, industry mentors, and networking opportunities with venture capitalists and angel networks. The goal is to accelerate these companies' business and product road maps.
"India today represents a very interesting opportunity in the tech space," Gupta says. "The startup ecosystem is in a nascent stage but is growing rapidly."
The program has graduated 35 startups since its inception on 2012, 80 percent of which have received outside funding. Accelerator is now part of Microsoft Ventures, a global startup engagement program for the company.
"There has been a steady growth of applicants, attracting great talent and ideas to the program," says Gupta, who is now a mentor for Microsoft Ventures.
Rafo Saldaña '84 takes over as Dean of School of Business
at Miami Dade College Since graduating Kellogg, Rafael F. "Rafo" Saldaña '84 has stayed connected to the community as an interviewer for prospective students, a speaker at Kellogg's Miami campus and a participant at various Kellogg events. He has also nurtured an enduring passion for business education. So it was no great surprise when he was invited by Dr. Eduardo Padrón, president of Miami Dade College, to join the nation's largest higher education college as dean of the School of Business.
After years turning around banks, opening new markets, and establishing new businesses at companies including Hewlett-Packard, Banco Santander, Capital One and most recently at Banesco USA, where he served at president and CEO, Saldaña enthusiastically accepted the challenge to develop an entrepreneurship center and incubator called The Idea Center @ MDC.
"The social contract has changed," Saldaña said. "Nobody can guarantee you a traditional job anymore and thus entrepreneurship is a necessary and noble skill in any discipline across the college. This is not a 'School of Business thing,' but a necessary mindset and skill set in any discipline."
In his new role as dean, Saldaña is constantly searching for talent, venture investors and sponsors/philanthropists for the school of business and the entrepreneurship center, "especially," he emphasized, "Kellogg talent that thinks bravely."