March 23 – 26, 2019
Recap by Bill Sharp with input from Jane Shivers

We kicked off a cocktail party Saturday evening March 23 for 24 SIBF members and guests at our Russian Hill abode on Saturday evening followed by an earlier arrivals group dinner at a locally-owned neighborhood Italian restaurant, Amarena. We then opened the Silicon Valley briefing Sunday evening March 24 with a reception and dinner on Sunday evening at the Palo Alto Four Seasons. On Monday the real work began.

MONDAY, MARCH 25, 2019

A conversation with Tim Draper Founding Partners, Draper Associates & DFJ

We had lectures beginning Monday March 25 at 8:30 a.m. We kicked-off with a conversation with Silicon Valley icon Tim Draper, who is recognized as a leading supporter of entrepreneurship with many awards and honors including the number one Most Networked Venture Capitalist by a leading publication among other accolades (moderated by Greenville, South Carolina member Brice Bay). Tim was also honored as the “Entrepreneur for the World” in 2015 by World Entrepreneurship Forum. Tim is regularly on CNBC, CNN, Fox News, BBC and several other networks as a leading commentator.

Following Tim Draper’s opening session we had the pleasure of learning from several riveting panels led by SIBF members Rakesh Vaidyanathan, Mark Kaiser, and Marion Smith – we had many of the big names in tech from the Valley on our various panels, and needless to say Rakesh as our Briefing Chair did an outstanding job in executing one of the most educational and enriching Briefings of all time!

Can Elephants Dance? Making Disruptive Innovation work for Corporate America
The panel was led by SIBF Chairman Mark Kaiser (Georgia 2001), President & CEO, Venadar LLC, and featured Michael Janse, Managing Director, Samsung Ventures; Mark Platshon, Managing Director & Co-Founder, Icebreaker Ventures, Former Silicon Valley Head of BMW Ventures; and Bonny Simi, President, JetBlue Technology Ventures as speakers.

This was a riveting panel discussing the pattern of disruptive developments in innovation and the impact on international business. You could not buy this stuff on Amazon, it was so compelling. v 3D: Diagnostics, Data and Digital: Healthcare’s New Future We then were enlightened by an excellent panel for an hour and a half addressing

3D: diagnostics, data and digital: healthcare’s new future
I provided the introduction and the thanks to this panel consisting of moderator Rajen Dalal, Chairman of Cardiac Designs, Inc. and also the founder of Outward Bound California among other initiatives (Rajen has served on at least a dozen boards and has had half as many startups all of which he monetized) and several other all-stars as noted below.

We also had the Global Head and VP for Roche based out of Switzerland, the CEO of Sandstone Diagnostics, as well as Silicon Valley’s leading health-care inventor, entrepreneur and founding manager of the leading healthcare venture fund, Ted Driscoll among others. This panel provided jarring and enlightening perspective of how technology is driving the delivery of healthcare in the future, focusing on point-of-care diagnostics that bring the lab to your cell phone, highlighting discoveries in gene and immune therapies seeking breakthrough cures for deadly diseases by cracking the code of life, technology that can deliver superior value and perhaps lower cost. It was absolutely amazing to hear to what is actually going on in the world.

Age of the Machines: Demystifying Machine Learning
We then had a panel of the managing partner of the Boston Consulting Group, the Global VP for Data and Artificial Intelligence of Visa, the head of research science at Uber, as well moderated by our own SIBF member Rakash Vaidyanathan, managing partner of the Jai Group, a leading tech startup, to dive into machine learning and artificial intelligence and their impact on economy, jobs, lifestyle and humility.

While machine learning and AI will make our life simpler and more cost effective, the cost to society may be overbearing as we will see hundreds and thousands of jobs lost over the next several years, as detailed by the panel. If anyone is interested in this topic please see me, have several pages of notes and the statistics are not overly optimistic as to what is going to happen over the next 10 to 20 years in terms of our employment base both in the U.S. and abroad.

After nearly seven hours in lecture sessions, we heard from long time entrepreneur and Silicon Valley veteran Bill Reichert, who has over thirty years of experience as an investor, entrepreneur, and operating executive, and is behind many success stories in the American tech space. Bill provided an invigorating and informative study about team building and how important it is to build a team for high performance. His theme was “People Trump Technology.” He provided us with two significant myths, and four major lessons regarding venture capital and the ecosystem in Silicon Valley and surrounding parts of the world.

The first myth is that Silicon Valley is all about new technology developed in the valley. This is really a myth because most successful companies develop other people’s technology. Of all major companies, Silicon Valley startups and successful public companies have leveraged innovation based on other people’s technology and success. Silicon Valley borrows or buys others’ technology and puts it in a different position in a novel way through innovation. The only exceptions are Intel, which made the microprocessor, and Cisco, which created the router. So it’s not about inventing, but it’s about innovation, and to have innovation you must have great people. For example, Elon Musk did not invent the electric car, he invested in and purchased this technology.

The second myth is that Silicon Valley great technology companies are not built by visionaries, but rather are built by high performing teams, and there are many examples of technology leveraged off others by using innovation and team building to get to the finish line. The list is long and we see this from many examples.

We then focused on team building, and this segment was a particularly informative discussion, as Bill Reichert reviewed his four primary lessons.

First, we need to look at our philosophy of leadership. Everybody talks about leadership, but no one really knows what this means - so in the first lesson it is important to hire leaders and not followers. Everyone must have a leadership culture, and everyone must feel that he or she is leader, otherwise if you have one leader and all followers the leader becomes the bottleneck. Team members must take initiative, solve problems, and know when to use the team and when to handle matters on their own.

The second lesson is to hire team members who have diverse perspectives and it is best not to build a balanced team but an unbalanced team. This generates creative conflict and results in different skills but with varying perspectives. Remember most entrepreneurs are optimists but you also need pessimists to keep them in check. And thirdly you also need an engineer, someone who is objective and neither is an optimist or a pessimist. Every diverse team must have this unbalanced characteristic to create appropriate conflict to extract ideas then to commit to a plan of action. Arguments do not equal dysfunction, and the team cannot allow conflict to rule the culture but a team culture first must be developed from which positive conflict flows.

Lesson number three is how to create an organization of a culture that has values aligned within all team members, because people must be aligned on vision, process and design. It’s hard to get alignment on processes when people have different cultural values. Teams that aren’t aligned will always miss their plans.

Lesson number four, and most importantly, is the overall “intentionality” of our team. Is it to focus on making money? If so the team will fail. The focus needs to be on value, and define that value in creating a process built on value and therefor a financial return. With these lessons in mind Bill provided several illustrations on the success by way of example on how great teams are created.


Markkula Center and GSV Labs, Santa Clara
We departed the hotel at 7:15 Tuesday morning in order to beat the traffic and arrive at the beautiful campus of Santa Clara University, home of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Funded by the co-founder of Apple, Mike Markkula and his wife Linda, the Center has researchers and scholars who work on all aspects of applied and professional ethics under the leadership of Dr. Don Heider, Executive Director. This was a very propitious time to be at the Center because everyday now we see questionable ethics in business, government, journalism, healthcare, bioethics, internet, leadership, technology, religion and other categories.

Dr. Heider discussed the process the Center’s team goes through to help leaders determine the right path when faced with an ethical issue. He then divided our group into teams of 3-5 people to work on an ethical question that Facebook’s leadership team had to solve based on the live-streaming of the terrible crime in New Zealand. He gave us eight questions to discuss in our small groups and then we had a discussion with the whole group. We all were amazed at how many angles, how many stakeholders, and how many questions arose in the process of trying to come to a decision that in this case, involved a worldwide user audience, most of them using the technology for good and not evil. We then headed over to GSVLabs in Santa Clara.

GSVLabs Overview & Discussion
GSVLabs in Santa Clara was founded by Michael Moe, who is also the founder of GSV Assets Management. Michael is regarded as one of the world’s preeminent authorities on growth investing and who has been routinely solicited from CNBC to Congress. He presented to us about the wonderful work of the GSVLabs.

Michael commented that talent is spread everywhere around the world but the opportunities are not so well allocated and part of the mission of GSVLabs is to democratize and spread learning and technology opportunities throughout the world. More on this below.

A little background. Every day in the United States 1,100 new businesses are formed, yet every day in the United States, 1,100 businesses fail. In the venture capital space, twenty percent of all start-up ventures survive after three years, with an eighty percent failure rate.

Michael then asked us to focus on three major “gravitational shifts” as follows: First, the role of digital data, and the impact on the Class of 2020. These young people think differently at age twenty, and more than fifty percent of them believe that online learning is as good or better than classroom learning. They do not know about the Dotcom Bust, but they do know about the Great Recession, so they don’t believe in owning anything as they saw their parents lose homes and lose jobs. In this class of 2020, most of them believe they will have at least fifteen or more careers from graduation to retirement. They don’t want to get locked down on any given area and be at the mercy of an employer as many of them saw their parents lose their jobs during the Great Recession.

The second major gravitational shift is the so-called digital disruption. Today over 3.7 billion people are on the internet, and the cost of computing has dropped over ninetynine percent in the past twenty years. 2.6 billon people own smart phones. 258 million apps were downloaded in 2018 alone.

At the same time, department stores since 2007 have lost an excess of 100,000 jobs, and people don’t realize that this is far more than the number of coal workers employed in the U.S. in the past ten years. But since 2007 e-commerce has gained 350,000 in new jobs, and we have also seen 100,000 new robots come online.

McKinsey predicts that 350,000 manufacturing and warehouse jobs will be gone in the next 15 to twenty years, with another twelve million white collar jobs gone by the year 2025. One of the big losers will be financial advisors because much of the financial advisory platform will be replaced by robotic applications with artificial intelligence. In fact, 50% of all jobs are at risk to be replaced in the next twenty years. While the new data and e-commerce jobs will amount to 1.2 million over the next ten to fifteen years, this barely dents the surface due to the disruption of loss of jobs.

The third gravitational shift relates to the evolving “global Silicon Valley,” which is extending the opportunities and expertise of Silicon Valley in a democratic way around the globe. We need to look to history to know how this goes. Back during the early phases of innovation the merchant bankers in London said” risk is not our cup of tea”. Then decades later in New York following World War II those in New York said “well if it’s not already in place, then it must not be very good.” And then going to the Midwest at the least they became a little more flexible by saying “Ok, let’s test it, let’s test it and test it again … hmm …. it looks promising.” And then those in San Francisco who saw emerging technology said “Can I write you a check?” And then we move over to China and we demonstrate technology and the quote is “What a great idea - now it’s mine.”

The point here is that we can’t replicate the successes of Silicon Valley all over the world but we can leverage it. We connect Silicon Valley with emerging countries and develop hubs of innovation that will spread and allocate the expertise and experiences of Silicon Valley with other partners in geographical regions around the world. This is the mission of GSVLabs.

Now let’s look at the venture capital shift. In the last ten years 92% of all venture capital emerged from the U.S. and most in Silicon Valley. But in 2018 55% of all venture capital originated from outside of the United States and thus only 45% in the United States. Shanghai has become second to Silicon Valley in providing venture capital.

And back on the Class of 2020, yes corporate law requires only doing business to enhance the value to shareholders but these new students and graduates are saying we better be doing business to better the community and improve the environment and not focus just on shareholders.

The Santa Clara-based GSVLabs center is home to over 170 startups with another 500 startups in the GSVLabs ecosystem by 2020. To be in house the cost is simply $33 per employee or $600 per year up to three employees with adjustments. GSVLabs offers an extensive “passport website” including discounts, cash credits and financing lines, and other forms of support plus an entire ecosystem of mentors, venture capitalists, legal support and other services.

Then the CEO of the emerging startup known as WhoKnows.com presented his story and a compelling understanding of how GSVLabs supported and launched this now successful venture.

Message from SIBF Chair Mark Kaiser (GA, ’01) - March 2019

Message from SIBF Chair Mark Kaiser (GA, ’01) - March 2019

I was excited to co-lead, along with Cheryl Ginyard-Jones (VA, ’13), a day-long session in February with the Executive Committee and about 30 dedicated members to generate new ideas and potential initiatives to further the four strategic objectives for SIBF that were established last year.   The group surfaced more than a hundred new ideas and were very thoughtful about how to continue to engage and strengthen SIBF.   My thanks to Cheryl (who did an awesome job leading the day) and all who participated.   We also look forward to ideas from all members about how to advance our initiatives.

Last year, SIBF’s strategic review identified lifelong engagement and strengthening our network of networks as key focus areas.  In support of these areas, the Technology Committee, chaired by Mark Lampen (SC, ’16), conducted a thorough search of connectivity platforms that maximize member experience.  Utilizing the private social network Clowder, the new SIBF Global app will be rolled out this summer.  You will gain simplified access to events, content and collaboration among our 1500 members worldwide.  You’ll have at your fingertips…

  • Our global membership directory of SIBF and affiliate networks

  • Easy access program registration

  • Member-to-Member messaging

  • Member groups tailored to your business and social interests

  • Forums and message boards 

Look for more on the SIBF app in June as we prepare for a full rollout at the SIBF Annual Summit in Maine this fall.  I encourage you to register for this program and book your hotel room soon. 

Anne and I hope to see you at the Global Network Summit (GNS) hosted by CELA in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan this June!   If you have talked with anyone who has attended a GNS, you know they come back enthused about SIBF and our global partners CELA, MELA and SEALA.  This year’s GNS is not to be missed!


Warm regards,
Mark Kaiser

T: 404.665.5201
M: 404.694.2664

The Small World of SIBF

The Small World of SIBF

Vickie Neighbour (SC, '96), SIBF Chair-Elect, and husband Pete were on a Silversea Expeditions trip to the Galapagos in October 2017, and took part in a long-time tradition.

Since the 18th Century, the Galapagos Islands has had a unique mail service. In the days before smartphones, sailors spent years away from home with little communication and so invented their own. They would leave letters, addressed but with no stamp, in a barrel on Floreana Island and hope that others passing through would take them home and mail them to the recipient or hand deliver them.

Vickie wrote on a Silversea Expeditions postcard and put it in the barrel. It was addressed “Bill Sharp, Jane Shivers, Zurich, Telluride, Tampa, Atlanta, San Francisco”. The message read, “Dear Bill and Jane, we thought you two might be our only chance!, Love, Vickie and Pete Neighbour.”

Last year a woman from Tampa was talking to her friend Becky Rauenhorst, wife of SIBF member Neil, and she showed her the postcard that she had fished out of the barrel when she visited the Galapagos and asked Becky if she knew Bill or Jane. Becky said yes and that she would take responsibility for delivery. Fast forward to this past Christmas holiday in Telluride, Colorado, when Becky presented the postcard at a holiday party she and Neil hosted. Bill was delighted to tell Becky and Neil the story of being the “Best Man” at Vickie and Pete’s wedding on an SIBF trip to China.

Another great story of the reach of the SIBF network and great friendships.

- Jane Shivers (FL, '92)


Message from SIBF Chair Mark Kaiser (GA, ’01) - January 2019

Message from SIBF Chair Mark Kaiser (GA, ’01) - January 2019

In the new year, SIBF will continue to focus on growing the organization, improving your experience, and connecting our 1500 global members.  Many of the recommendations of 18 strategy committees, formed as part of the three-year strategic review process, have already been implemented and many more will be rolled out in 2019 and 2020.  In Q4 last year, the “SIBF Host” process was designed and implemented so that each new member will be guided by an existing member on how to make the most of their SIBF membership.  This year you will see upgrades to our technology to make it easier to stay connected, informed and participate in SIBF.   The very popular SIBF Connect app that was used at the 2019 Summit is only one example of how mobile technology will enhance our collective SIBF experience!

 As SIBF chair, I will work with the SIBF Board of Directors, including chair-elect Vickie Neighbour (SC, ’96) and immediate past chair Palmer Garson (VA, ’10), to guide the process aligned along four strategic imperatives: growth, lifelong engagement, impact, and network of networks.   We are formally known as the Troika but have been relabeled by Vickie as MVP (Mark, Vickie, Palmer) – for ease of reference!  The three of us bring complimentary experiences to SIBF:

  • I bring experience in leading high-growth companies from start-up to billion dollar companies and advising over 40 Fortune 500 companies, including Cigna, Nestle, Tyson Foods and The Coca-Cola Company, in how to create meaningful growth in times of disruption (LinkedIn: Mark Kaiser)

  • Palmer’s deep experience and talent in investment banking and private equity and wealth management at Morgan Stanley & Co., A.G. Edwards and Mellon Bank and currently at Silvercrest Asset Management (LinkedIn: Palmer Garson), was reflected in an outstanding year in 2018 from both a financial and strategic perspective; and

  • Vickie’s experience is in skillfully guiding family business governance, generational transition of leadership over three generations and the ambitious international expansion of Cox Industries, a company founded by Vickie’s father, William B. Cox in 1954.  At SIBF, Vickie has been a facilitator at over 19 leadership academy sessions at all four of SIBF’s Academies – CELA, MELA, SEALA and the SIBF Academy.  (LinkedIn: Vickie Neighbour)   Vickie will be a positive force in bringing together the global SIBF family.

With the Super Bowl just around the corner, it is fitting to note that SIBF has a few MVPs of their own.  The many members volunteering their time to take part in SIBF’s strategy review are among them, including Cheryl Ginyard-Jones (VA, ’13), who is leading the process of extending our strategic initiatives into 2020 and 2021 in mid-February where we will outline next steps and deliverables related to the four imperatives above.  Yet another MVP is Executive Director Nancy Haselden, who embarks upon her 20th year with SIBF and has been instrumental in moving the organization forward.  Of note, the 45 members who comprised the strategic review group represented the most diverse and talented group of members ever assembled for SIBF strategy work – CEOs, founders, partners and entrepreneurs from 11 states, ranging in age from 29 to 76, with women representing nearly half the team. If you would like to be part of SIBF’s “next steps”, please contact me (mkaiser@venadar.com) or Nancy.    

I encourage you to review SIBF’s programming calendar and see what unique learning opportunities await you and your family – from the highly rated Washington Briefing (early birds, make a note to register by February 1!) to the Global Network Summit in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan or one of the many local breakfasts and events across the country.  Vickie, Palmer and I look forward to connecting with you soon at an upcoming SIBF event!


Warm regards,
Mark Kaiser

T: 404.665.5201
M: 404.694.2664



Thursday was an informative yet fantastically fun day. Rubbing our eyes, we started of our morning bright and early with a march to the Judge Business School, a beautiful work of perhaps McDonald’s playhouse inspired architecture, but nonetheless beautiful in its own right. After incredibly fascinating sessions on investment strategy and the utilization of the Bloomberg terminal (and a delicious lunch) we headed to the Fitzwilliam Museum where Mr. Horner dropped pearls of knowledge upon us with a great interactive tour of the museum. After perusing the museum’s collection of weapons (for longer than I’d like to admit), we visited the King’s College Chapel, a beautiful Church. To end off our day, we found ourselves listening to a fantastic lecture on Shakespeare, perhaps the only time I’ve ever been able to hold attention to the subject, followed by a live performance in the park. While I must admit I initially dreaded going to The Taming of the Shrew, the play turned out to be great fun, full of energy, and with fantastic background was easy to understand and relate to. All in all, it was one of my favorite days, action-packed and full of intellectual stimulation.
- Rowan Majumdar, son of Rajjina Singh and Sareet Majumdar (FL, '12)


This past week has been truly life changing. The daily lessons gave me greater insight into the financial world. I did not only gain knowledge during my time in Cambridge, but I made friends within the great group of people.

- Luke Didier, son of Allison and Hank Didier (FL, '17)



Today we left behind Clare College (and air-conditioning) to spend the day at the spectacular Madingley Hall and gardens. After an informative and aromatic tour of the gardens, we were schooled on the intricate minutia of Brexit, the hidden secrets behind credit cards, and the proper way to hold a croquet mallet. We finished our day with a visit to the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, a moving tribute to the men and women who sacrificed their lives in World War II. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store!

- Christie Harrison, daughter of Cathleen & Bill Harrison (FL, '01)


Today we went punting on the Cam, thankfully none of us fell in! The day continued with interesting and very useful lectures from Nick Hoffman and Nigel Wardle.  Professor Simon Conway Morris gave a talk on evolutionary myths and Professor Mary Buckley spoke about human trafficking in Russia. The day ended with a scavenger hunt around Cambridge, the winner has yet to be announced, and dinner was on our own giving us all a chance to explore the restaurant scene here.

- Kendrick McFadden, daughter of Harriet and Hampton McFadden (AL, '16)



The first day of The SIBF Money and Responsibility conference was an awesome start to the week. We started the day off with a tour of the University and then went to lunch at The River Bar. Our afternoon consisted of an open top double decker bus tour of Cambridge. After settling into our rooms we went to the Neville’s home for an awesome dinner! It was a great start to the week here at Cambridge.

-Claire Blumenthal, daughter of Karen and Marc Blumenthal (FL, '12)


On Monday Jerry gave us a finance talk, this is not an area in which I had been formally educated and so this was new to me. The talks are conducted so that beginners and those with experience in the area can learn something new. In the afternoon we saw Trinity College, including the Wren Library. This houses the first editions of Darwin’s  ‘On the Origin of Species’ and Marx’s ‘Dad Kapital’. It also contained the notes of the greatest mind in history, Ludwig Wittgenstein.

- Huw Neville, son of Tracy-Ann and James Neville (UK, '06)

SIBF Dives Down Under – Australia Now on the Member Map!

SIBF Dives Down Under – Australia Now on the Member Map!

Not surprisingly, it all started in Birmingham.  Stewart Dansby (AL, ’95) met Mark Bytheway (Australia, ’17) while Mark was on a business trip to visit Bill Mills (AL, ’14) as they were starting a new venture, KPX Global LLC.  KPX is a specialist provider of impact investment products and services, including environmental, social and governance research, and analysis investment integration services.   

A few months and 10,000 miles later, Stewart, now a partner in and a director of KPX, attended the 2016 Fellows’ International Conference to Australia.  “I really got to know Mark as I visited before the SIBF FIC to Australia. I flew over a few days early to meet with him and his family in Melbourne, then introduced Mark and his lovely wife, Bec, to several SIBFers on the trip over dinner when we were back in Melbourne.”  Formerly the CEO of SIRIS investment research, Mark is now a member of SIBF having joined in 2017 and COO/Director of KPX.  

Should you find yourself planning a trip or evaluating business opportunities in Australia, Mark is ready to be of assistance.  A new Aussie SIBF chapter just might be growing down under! 

Contact Mark

Stewart Dansby (AL, ’95) and Mark Bytheway (Australia, ’17) at The Melbourne Cup in Australia 

Stewart Dansby (AL, ’95) and Mark Bytheway (Australia, ’17) at The Melbourne Cup in Australia 

Here's what can happen if you don't pay taxes on bitcoin

In 2017, bitcoin went from trading at below $1,000 early in the year to a peak of over $19,000 in December, while other virtual currencies also enjoyed gains.

For anyone who ignored the common crypto-slang advice to "HODL," to hold on to your investment for dear life, and decided to cash out, those profits are considered income by the IRS.

If you sold crypto-coins or used crypto to buy anything in 2017, you probably owe the IRS taxes, says Ryan Losi, a certified public accountant and the executive vice president of Virginia accounting firm PIASCIK.

"For Americans there is no free lunch," Losi says. "If you're richer tomorrow than you were today, it is likely you have some tax burden associated with that."

And not paying up can have consequences.

If the IRS discovers you under-reported your income when you file your taxes in April, "there is a failure-to-pay penalty of 0.5 percent per month, starting after the month in which it was due," Losi explains. "Then there is a failure-to-pay penalty of 5 percent on top of that." Then, there's interest.

To avoid penalties, here's what you need to know about paying taxes on bitcoin.


2017 SIBF Annual Awards

At the 2017 Annual Summit in Del Mar, California, the Society of International Business Fellows (SIBF) presented member awards to seven exceptional individuals who have given generously of their time, talent and resources.  Because of their dedication and willingness to give back locally and globally, SIBF is a stronger organization.  SIBF is honored to recognize this year’s impressive group of winners:

Tom Wallace (FL, ’12): Allan J. McDonald International Entrepreneur Award
Established by the Class of 1987 to commemorate Allan J. McDonald’s international entrepreneurial accomplishments and support of SIBF. The award is presented annually at the Summit to a Fellow who has demonstrated outstanding international entrepreneurial effort during the previous year.

Susan & Meade Sutterfield (GA, ’97): James D. Cockman Humanitarian Award
Presented annually at the Summit to a Fellow who has made extraordinary contributions to a philanthropic initiative, demonstrating a strong commitment to an organization whose primary mission is improving the lives of those in need. This award was established in honor of 1992 class member Jim Cockman, known for his generous spirit and dedication to local and national community projects.

Randy Nuckolls (DC, ’83) & Bobby Henebry (GA, ’15): Spirit of SIBF Award
Recognizes a member who has spearheaded an innovative program or other special effort. Through personal initiative and effective use of SIBF’s network, this individual has delivered outstanding results and raised the bar for other members who oversee SIBF projects.

David Love (NC, ’92): Mentor Award
Recognizes a long-standing SIBF member who has accepted indirect or unofficial leadership roles in order to support leadership. SIBF mentors are vital to our success, providing the voice of experience and the extended circle of acquaintance that is often critical to the success of new leaders. 

Mark Lampen (SC, ’16): Newcomer Award
Recognizes emerging leadership in the newest class which is crucial to a governance structure where key volunteer positions rotate frequently. This award honors a member from the most recently inducted class who exhibits strong leadership skills and dedication to the Society very early in their membership. 

ABOUT SIBF: The Society of International Business Fellows (SIBF) is a non-profit business association founded in 1981. Over 70% of members are CEOs, owner, presidents or managing partners. Represented in 40 countries worldwide, the organization has 1200 members from small and medium-sized enterprises as well as major multinationals and global professional services firms.  Leadership Academies in the US, Central Eurasia, the Middle East, and South East Asia attract high potential leaders and present global networking opportunities for the next generation of leaders. Membership is by invitation only with interest in international business and culture as the common thread among members. www.sibf.org

Bob Blanchard (FL, '96), WRB Serra Partners Closes Fund I at $46.5 Million

WRB Serra Partners announced today that it has successfully completed the closing of WRB Serra Partners Fund I, L.P. with committed capital of $46.5 Million. The Fund secured capital from a mix of family office and institutional investors and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

Founded in 2015, WRB Serra is a Florida-based private equity firm that invests in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and water infrastructure in Latin America and the Caribbean.  The firm is targeting investments of US$7 million to US$25 million from the Fund and with additional capital from its limited partners.

WRB Serra’s partner group has a decades-long history developing, operating, and financing infrastructure projects in the region and includes G. Robert “Bob” Blanchard, Jr., Robert Blenker, and Eric Wenick. “We are very excited to have a committed pool of capital dedicated to the Caribbean and Latin America,” says Bob Blanchard.  “We are seeing many exciting opportunities that benefit consumers and promote sustainable economic growth in the region.” 

“Our affiliated development capabilities and long track record operating in the region make us an ideal match for developers seeking to bring their projects to completion with a partner that can provide both expertise and capital,” added Robert Blenker. WRB Serra previously announced its first investment in Content Solar Ltd., Jamaica’s first utility-scale solar photovoltaic plant, which is located in Claredon Parish, Jamaica. The 20 Megawatt, grid-connected solar plant began construction in January 2016 and commenced commercial operations in August 2016. Content Solar generates and sells energy to Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

“Content Solar is a perfect example of how WRB Serra brings structuring, finance, and development capabilities to bear,” said Eric Wenick.  “We look forward to working with developers and utilities in the region to help bring other successful projects to life.” WRB is targeting investments in solar, wind, hydro, and biomass generation, storage, energy efficiency, and potable water infrastructure from early-stage construction to operating assets.

On the clock: Dee Haslam (OH, '09) submits bid to host NFL draft in 2019, 2020

The Cleveland Browns announced Thursday that it has partnered with the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton and Greater Cleveland Sports Commission to potentially host the annual three-day draft, which has swelled into a made-for-TV spectacle and showcase for the league — a virtual football-palooza.

The group delivered its application to league headquarters in New York last week, and as luck would have it, Commissioner Roger Goodell visited the team’s headquarters on Thursday.

“I noticed that draft announcement on my way in,” Goodell said as he sat next to Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam during a fan forum before the team’s final training camp practice. “Was that a coincidence?”

Probably not.

With their rich tradition, the Browns, who are coming off a 1-15 season and have been a staple at the top of the draft for several years, are eager to move back among the league’s model franchises. Hosting the draft might be one small step toward restoring the team’s glory.

Dee Haslam said landing the draft would not only be a major coup for Cleveland and its fans but would also provide an opportunity to showcase the football-obsessed region.

“Once you get here and see what a great place it is, we can tell a story all we want, but getting people to come here and seeing it and feeling it,” she said. “The draft is amazing exposure because it goes everywhere and people see it, and so we’re really excited about that opportunity to get people to come to Northeast Ohio and see what a fantastic place it is.”



Keith Miller (SC, '14) discusses the two-year college graduate rate in South Carolina

One measure that weighed down the state's overall ranking in the U.S. News analysis was South Carolina's two-year college graduate rate.

The report placed that rate at 48th in the nation. But the study uses data that have been widely denounced by two-year colleges, said Keith Miller, president of Greenville Technical College.

"It (the two-year college ranking) doesn't even come close to reflecting reality — not even close," Miller said.


At Greenville Tech every year, for instance, up to 4,000 students (25 percent of the student body) attend classes for a semester or two and then transfer to a four-year college. Those students count against Greenville Tech's graduation rate, Miller said, because they don't actually graduate but rather transfer to a four-year program.

An additional 1,400 high school students who take dual-enrollment courses (college credit classes) may count against Greenville Tech's graduation rate as well, Miller said.

"The reason they count as a negative is that they're attending classes but their intent is not to graduate from Greenville Tech," Miller said. "It's simply to attend some classes while they're in high school, so that counts against us."

The two-year college ranking is based on first-time full-time students, Miller said.

At Greenville Tech, however, 60 percent of students attend classes part-time.

"This data doesn't even consider 60 percent of our student body," Miller said.

Studies on education have to be considered critically, Miller added.

"These reports are intended to achieve a certain level of transparency and help inform the public about different colleges and universities across the nation," Miller said. "That's a laudable goal. Having said that, what's sad and so deceiving is not only do they not tell the full story, they tell a misleading story. They don't give an accurate picture."


Band of SIBF Sisters (BOSS) - Webinar Tomorrow!


Date: August 22, 2017  

Time: 12:00pm

Topic: Mind Mapping to Create Possibilities

When you what you are doing is connected to your passions and core values, you are living a life of discovery that energizes you every day. However, you may have become disconnected with your passion or never connected with it. You may have once been energized but you aren’t any longer. For any number of reasons, you just don’t seem to be getting anywhere with where you want to go. We are comfortable with the familiar, but that very comfort may be holding us back. You feel stuck – maybe even trapped – and can’t think of what to do next. When we are connected to our passions and are living on purpose, we are energized and engaged. Discover or reconnect with your passions and explore how you can use them to articulate your purpose for yourself. Brainstorm about the possibilities and use your ideas to create potential visions for your future to explore further. 

Bill Gillon (TN, '14) partners with the Food Policy Leadership Institute (FPLI)

The Food Policy Leadership Institute (FPLI) at the George Washington University will welcome its first class in September 2017. The FPLI certificate program is tailored for working professionals and designed around the goal of deepening the bench of young leaders ready to carry forward meaningful food and agriculture policy agendas.

The program’s curriculum will be delivered primarily via distance learning but will include regular visits to farms and food processing facilities. Near the conclusion of the program, participants will also travel to Washington, D.C., to interface directly with food policy leaders of all stripes and tour farms and processing facilities along the eastern seaboard. Lead by Professor of Public Policy Kathleen Merrigan, the Institute’s 16-member faculty roster includes lobbyists, CEOs, congressional staff, lawyers, and economists.

According to the FPLI’s leadership, multiple of the existential challenges facing the food system today cannot be solved through individual action or marketplace campaigns alone. Fewer young farmers come from farming backgrounds, agriculture is moving onto rooftops and into buildings, and even in traditional farming communities the pace of change is continuing to accelerate. The FPLI faculty contend that government policy plays a fundamental role in dictating who can tap into resources and for what purposes, who has access to food and of what quality, and how well persistent and historical inequalities are addressed.

Food Tank had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Merrigan, the Executive Director of Sustainability at the George Washington University and the Founder of the Food Policy Leadership Institute. From 2009 to 2013, Dr. Merrigan was U.S. Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). She wrote the law establishing national standards for organic food. Her prior students have progressed to leadership roles such as the Administrator of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (a role Merrigan herself also previously held), heading up sustainability and industry relations at major food companies, and steering investments in climate change at international foundations.


Food Tank (FT): What drove you to sit down at your desk and say “the bench is too shallow, we need to develop a leadership training program?”

Dr. Kathleen Merrigan (KM): The challenges are so great. There’s a growing chorus in support of the kind of change we need in the food system and there’s an unbelievable new interest in food that is wind in the sails for new policy change. But when I look across the spectrum of organizations involved, there are just not enough strong young leaders who have the kind of knowledge base necessary to really make that change. We also need to have a lot more diversity in our leadership circles.

FT: Could you talk about your partners and who you’re excited to have with you at the table and in the (virtual) classroom?

KM: What a fun thing for me—I’ve put together a dream team faculty! We’ve got folks like Bill Gillon at the Cotton Board, with whom I shared an office for years working for Senator Leahy on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Bill helped me draft the Organic Food Production Act. He’s been more involved with traditional agriculture over his career and has spent many years in the cotton industry, so he brings a huge amount of perspective for the fellows in the program. Folks like Walter Robb, who about three-quarters of a year ago exited the position of CEO at Whole Foods Market and who helped build that company to what it is today. He’s a really thoughtful, creative industry leader. To Janie Hipp, who is at the University of Arkansas Law School now and was the head and founder of the Office of Tribal Relations at USDA when I was there. She’s been a really great advocate for Indian Country.


IT Authorities Names Jeff Lynn (FL, '15) Chief Operating Officer

T Authorities, a world-class IT Managed Service Provider (MSP) in Tampa, is pleased to announce Jeff Lynn will join the senior leadership team as Chief Operating Officer. Lynn is a seasoned executive bringing nearly 40 years of experience in the technology industry to ITA and its growing customer base.

Lynn most recently served as President of Tribridge, a technology services firm, where he led the strategic direction, service delivery and growth of Tribridge's global operations.

Before joining Tribridge, Jeff had been global COO of Tectura, then the largest Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM partner. Prior to Tectura Jeff was Vice President of Dell Professional Services, VP & General Manager of Compaq Professional Services, and VP of Consulting & Services for IBM.

"I'm pleased to join IT Authorities at such an exciting time", Lynn said. "ITA is growing the size of its customer base, not just in raw numbers, but in the size, complexity and critically of the workloads under our stewardship. The challenges that come with such a large-scale transformation are formidable. But big challenges are what make IT Authorities an exciting place to be."

Lynn begins his tenure as COO on Tuesday, August 15, reporting to Phil LaForge, recently appointed Chief Executive Officer.

"Companies cannot deliver on the promise of world class service without world class leaders at the helm", said CEO Philip LaForge. "Our customers and coworkers will immediately benefit from Jeff's significant capabilities and leadership style backed up by a history of success at some of the tech industries most revered companies".

Besides his professional work, Jeff gives back by serving as Chair of The CEO Trust in Manhattan. He is Board Member of the Society of International Business Fellows, a Board Member of the MIT Sloan School Club of New York and is on the Board of Visitors of the McDonald Observatory, a research unit of The University of Texas at Austin.

Lynn holds a MS in Management Information Systems from the Sloan School of Management, M.I.T. and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Sports, art converge during Family Day at OZ Arts Nashville

Art and sports converge at the fourth annual Family Day at OZ Arts Nashville. Curated to spark creativity, fun, and interaction, this year’s popular festival offers up food, a slew of sports-themed art-making activities and performances, and sculptures and interactive installations by featured Nashville artist and TSU assistant art professor Brandon Donahue.

“Creating artworks with your hands and interacting with artists opens up a whole new dimension for young adults and children,” said OZ Arts CEO Tim Ozgener (TN, '12). “Nowadays, families are on the go so much that creating a compelling occasion that brings families together to interact with some of the region’s standout artists was a goal of ours.”

BMX Pros Trick Team. (Photo: Photo courtesy of Oz Arts)

BMX Pros Trick Team. (Photo: Photo courtesy of Oz Arts)

Over a dozen local artists and community organizations will set up indoor and outdoor art-making activity stations, and several performances will punctuate the day, including a Tai Chi Demo by The Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville and stunts by BMX bikers and skateboarders in the front parking lot-turned BMX course and skate park.  

In addition to a selection of his elegant “Basketball Bloom,” sculptures, Donahue will create an outdoor volleyball court made from used volleyballs and rope and a full-size, backlit indoor basketball court with backboards made from bamboo and toilet seats.


Brandon Donahue, "Basketball Bloom USA Nike," 2017, basketballs and shoestrings. (Photo: Photo courtesy of Oz Arts)

Brandon Donahue, "Basketball Bloom USA Nike," 2017, basketballs and shoestrings. (Photo: Photo courtesy of Oz Arts)

Why Coal Is Dead: A Conversation with Peter Zeihan (TX, '15)

From Knowledge Leaders Capital (KLC): With energy setting records as the worst performing sector year-to-date, we were curious about Geopolitical Strategist Peter Zeihan’s (PZ) thoughts on fossil fuels in the context of the United States’ continued retreat from the global theater.

We recently caught up with Peter to ask his opinion. Below are excerpts from that conversation.

KLC: What are your thoughts on fossil fuels given the United States’ continued retreat from the Bretton Woods era and global trade system?

PZ: Coal is dead regardless of what happens with the Trump administration. Because natural gas is a waste product of the shale sector, it’s flooding in and taking the entire market. Shale production has doubled from 20% of the fuel mix to about 45% today, and it will definitely cross the 50% threshold before the end of the decade.

Alternative power sources are not yet in a position where they can make up the difference because most power demand in the United States happens after dark in the winter. So if you’re in the northern tier of states, solar just isn’t appropriate. Now if you’re in Texas and the belt going from Texas to Southern California, solar is brilliant in that zone. And in terms of electricity generated as opposed to installed capacity, I expect electricity generated from solar in Texas to increase by a factor of five in the next six years. Not because Texans are green, but because Texans can do math. So don’t look to how many panels are up. Look at how much power actually comes from it that is actually fed into the grid and used. This destroys coal. It makes solar kind of a wash outside of the Sunbelt.

KLC: What’s the most promising alternative source, in your opinion?

PZ: The next technology to keep an eye on is wind. The new towers that are going up aren’t just 30 meters tall, they’re 70 and 80 meters tall, which means they tap a stronger, more reliable wind current structure. And they can be built almost anywhere. The primary wind zone extends from the Great Plains into the Rockies and all the way to Chicago, and the offshore capacity on the East and the West Coast is phenomenal. So we might be able to get 15-20% of base load capacity nationally from wind. The infrastructure build-out time is long, however. Building an 80-foot-tall wind tower is as hard as it sounds. And, if you think there was a “not in my backyard” problem with the towers that were 30 meters tall, these new ones can be seen from 11 miles away.

KLC: Would more wind towers be good for copper prices?

PZ: In theory, yes, but only moderately. Existing wind towers only work in specific areas, so the electricity has to be wired long distances (West Iowa to Chicago, for example). However, the taller towers work in a wider range of areas and so can be positioned closer to demand. Many more towers, but less of a need for long-haul transmission.


VIDEO: Anne & Marty Davis (MN, '04) welcome 135 children to Camp Cambria

This year, Camp Cambria will treat 135 children and teens suffering from juvenile arthritis to a week of summer camp fun with their peers, at no cost to their families in Minnesota and Ontario.

Founded in 2014 by Cambria President and CEO Marty Davis and his wife Anne, Camp Cambria is supported by volunteers, including Cambria employees, local sports heroes and celebrities like Mariel Hemingway, a Cambria Brand Ambassador who teaches yoga to campers. Hemingway stopped by KARE 11 at 4 to talk about this year’s camp.

This year, the Camp Cambria Foundation will hold its annual fundraiser, the Camp Cambria Classic on August 14 at Hazeltine National Golf Club. To learn more about this cause and opportunities to get involved, visit CampCambria.org and for more about Cambria, visit CambriaUSA.com.


Tucker/Hall president Bill Carlson (FL, '12) contemplating run for Tampa City Council in 2019

Bill Carlson, a Tampa Democratic Party activist and the president of the Tucker/Hall public relations firm, is considering a run for the South Tampa District 4 seat in 2019.

“I’ve been involved behind the scenes in a number of the most important issues in Tampa Bay, and people have been encouraging me for years to run for political office, so finally I’m seriously considering running for that seat,” Carlson said Thursday night.

Among those behind-the-scenes issues that Carlson was involved with in recent years was a push (along with Jason Busto and the late Steve Burton) to modernize the workings of Tampa International Airport and press for more direct international flights. That ultimately led to the ouster of former airport CEO Louis Miller in 2010, and the hiring of Joe Lopano.

Carlson also has been involved in efforts to push for more trade and improved relations between Tampa and Cuba over the years. He says he wants to make Port Tampa Bay the U.S. hub for trade with Cuba and Asia through the Panama Canal and the Cuba transshipment hub.

Carlson, 50, has worked at Tucker/Hall for the past 23 years, the last decade as president of the agency. He’s also the co-founder of Cafe Con Tampa, a Friday morning forum where lawmakers, public officials and major members of the community hold discussions with local residents. The event has moved in the past year to the Oxford Exchange, where they’ve attracted some of their largest audiences.