Pipeline to Harvard Business School and Impact
by Jeff Jowdy
University of Georgia, ‘83
In the mid-1960s there was a pipeline to Harvard Business School from Worcester Polytechnic Institute with a common bond: Phi Kappa Theta.
This included Phil Ryan and Jerry Morris, who were classmates at WPI (‘65) and MBAs at Harvard (‘70). Fred Molinari, WPI (‘63), was also a Harvard MBA (‘70) classmate. Preceding these brothers by just a few years were Dave Norton (Worcester Polytechnic Institute, ‘62), Roger Arko (WPI, ‘64) and Joe Mancuso (WPI, ‘63).
“We all knew one another,” shared Ryan. “It was a rather amazing confluence at Harvard Business School of these brothers.”
Ryan retired in 2011 as CEO of Merchants Automotive Group. He also served as CEO of Elliott Health System and owned The Bigelow Company investment banking firm. He has served as chairman of the board and interim president of WPI.
WPI faculty member and PKT advisor Bill Grogan (WPI, ‘46), who shaped the pioneering WPI Plan (wpi.edu/wpi-plan) for experiential learning, had a lasting impact on Ryan. “Other than my parents and my wife, Bill had the most influence over my life,” he said.
“To whom much is given, much is expected” is one of the lessons Ryan said he learned through PKT.
Morris’ 30-year career in finance included 20 years as executive vice president CAO/CFO of two NYSE companies: The Foxboro Company and Diebold. He is a board member and investment chair for the Phi Kappa Theta Foundation. He stays active with venture capital investments.
“The Kap was such a great outlet,” he said. “The brothers dominated campus leadership, so it is not surprising so many would have gone on to Harvard Business School.”
Jerry advises today’s collegiate brothers to “look to the distant future and think about where you want to be, and be sure that you are acquiring the skills needed to get there.”
“The two things that got me to where I am today were Phi Kappa Theta and Harvard Business School, says Jerry.
“The friends you make often determine where you go,” shares Mancuso, who demonstrated his entrepreneurial spirit during his WPI days, when he would organize concerts with stars like Chubby Checker. “I didn’t know it then. I was just trying to go day by day.”
He has written or edited 26 books and has a doctorate from Boston University. After serving as chair of the management department at WPI, Mancuso founded CEO Clubs International (ceoclubs.org) where members average $20,000,000 in sales and speakers have included Ted Turner, Herb Kelleher, Michael Bloomberg, and Donald Trump.
His advice: “Input is always good. How you process it makes the difference.”
Norton co-created the balanced scorecard, considered one of the most influential management ideas of the last 75 years.
Following WPI, Norton earned his MS and MBA from Florida State and later his DBA at Harvard. He co-founded consulting firm Nolan, Norton and Co. and ESM Software Group and was founding president of Renaissance Solutions.
Norton’s advice: “You have to take the world one step at a time. Clarify your vision and think about the steps you have to take to get there, and take the next step.”
Molinari was president and CEO of Data Translation, a technology designer and manufacturer. Today he stays active on boards and advises technology entrepreneurs seeking funding.
“You’ve got to do what you want to do, and oftentimes that changes in life,” shared Fred. “It doesn’t matter where you go but how much effort you put in. Follow your head, and be a good person.”
Molinari encourages alumni brothers to serve as mentors to younger brothers and for collegiate brothers to listen to mentors because “there is a lot of wisdom there.”