Advisory Board

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Carlos M. Aquino

Carlos is founding Managing Director of CMA Pacific Partners, based in Hong Kong. He established the firm in 2002 and has served as a Senior Advisor to a wide range of PE firms in Asia-Pacific, most notably TPG, BPE, PAG, CVC, NSSK, and CITIC. He has also advised a wide variety of founder / family-led SMEs in the region, in addition to many PE portfolio companies in both industrial and consumer products and services sectors.  Prior to his 15+ years in Asia PE, he spent the first half of his career as both an executive in industrial / tech companies including General Electric, 3COM, and McDonnell Douglas, as well as at management consultants Booz-Allen & Hamilton.  Carlos received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and a Masters of Public Affairs (International Relations) from Princeton University.

Gary Bennett

Gary is a highly respected experienced International Life Insurance leader who has held CEO roles in 12 countries including India, Hong Kong, Vietnam, China, Mexico, Australia, Singapore and the USA. As a CEO and Chairman, Gary has led and built successful businesses in markets of different degrees of development and economic maturity, start-ups, business improvement, strategic initiatives and multiple M&A projects. His significant business achievements at both operational and strategic levels include success in multi-channel distribution with an aggressive commitment to market growth and ongoing development across all areas of Life, Health and General Insurance, Pensions and Retail Financial Services. In Gary’s early years in Australia, he opened various new businesses for GIO. In Singapore he led the Colonial Jardine business development operation that won licenses in China, Vietnam, India and Thailand. Most recently Gary was CEO of Seguros Monterrey New York Life, Mexico’s second largest life insurer, and now the fastest growing life and health business in Mexico. Gary managed businesses in Japan and Korea as the Regional Managing Director for Prudential UK. He was the CEO in India during the NYL successful joint venture with the Max Group. He oversaw the strategic direction of NYL´s joint venture in China, ran Hong Kong and Taiwan for NYL during challenging periods of change and served as the Regional CEO and Vice Chair of NYLI in Asia during the strategic realignments of NYL´s International Insurance Business following the change in Group strategy. Gary is currently the Chairman and Chief Executive of North Star Consulting providing high level strategic advice and operational support to organizations with particular strength in interim management, M&As, new business set ups, restructuring, distribution, product development, marketing, leadership and Board, Advisory and Investor support.

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Boudewijn Bertsch

Bou Bertsch is a trusted advisor and faculty member, designing and delivering executive education for ING Bank Academy and the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University since the 1990’s. In addition to providing leadership courses for companies around the world, he coaches executives and teams and supports leadership teams on organizational change and improvement. He co-authored the award winning article “How Multinational CEOs Make Change Programs Stick.” As an expert in Lean Six Sigma, Bou advises leadership teams on the limits and potential of this improvement approach. He earned a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in Business Economics from Erasmus University Rotterdam and a Japanese Language and Culture Certificate from Osaka Foreign Language University.

MG George Close USA Ret

MG George Close, USA, Ret.

General Close, President of The SPECTRUM Group, supports U.S. and international clients with his extensive senior government and corporate executive expertise. He delivers substantial experience successfully building mission-focused teams in both the public and private sectors that leads to high performance and improved shareholder value. Prior to joining The SPECTRUM Group, General Close led several diverse companies. He served as CEO of Olive Group NA, LLC, a foreign-owned FOCI/SSA global security company, and CEO of International Development Solutions, a U.S.-based global security company. General Close also served in several executive positions with DynCorp International, including SVP and General Manager of DynCorp’s largest strategic business unit. Prior to his corporate experience, Mr. Close served a 30-year career with the U.S. Army. He retired from the Joint Staff as the J-7, responsible for the integration of all deliberate war plans, joint training, doctrine, and education of the Armed Services. As the executive agent for the DoD program “Joint Vision 2020,” he led development and strategic planning for military transformational activities to support future U.S. joint forces. General Close also served as Director of Operations, U.S. Southern Command, Joint Interagency Task Force South. He holds engineering degrees from MIT and Stanford University.

Saleh Daher

Saleh Daher, CFA is an angel investor based in Boston. He is a member of Walnut Venture Associates (WalnutVentures.com). Sal is also the host of the Angel Invest Boston podcast in which he interviews Boston’s most interesting angel investors and founders of startups (AngelInvestBoston.com). He invests in about a dozen startups per year. His portfolio includes Chiefofstaff.com, Pixability, SQZ Biotech, ViralGains, Mavrck, Gelesis, Akili Interactive, Videolicious, PanTher Therapeuitcs, Testive and dozens of other promising companies. Sal was a lender, trader and investor in emerging markets for more than three decades. He was Managing Director of the Turan Corporation, focusing on proprietary investments and trading in distressed sovereign debt from 1988 to 2014, including a period as Managing Director of Singapore-based Turan Asia Pte. Ltd. Prior to joining Turan, Sal headed the domestic asset trading desk at the Bank of Boston. Prior to that, he worked for Citibank in New York City and Buenos Aires in lending, derivatives and trading of distressed sovereign debt. He holds engineering degrees from MIT and Stanford University.

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William M. Gruzynski, CAIA

Bill Gruzynski is the alternative investment specialist for The Emerald Group of Companies, formed in 1998. This group specializes in the alternative investment sector, specifically in Managed Futures programs, Foreign Exchange Managers, Commodities and Macro Hedge Funds for high net worth individuals and institutional investors. Bill is also a senior partner with Hillcrest Partners, a commodity futures and options consulting firm founded in 1980, which consults with clients, including Asian and European banking interests, trading managers and brokerage houses regarding their entry into the commodity futures and options markets. Additionally, Hillcrest advises, designs, implements and oversees commodity futures, options and securities markets’ technical trading systems and is currently trading these methods for a Chicago proprietary trading firm. Mr. Gruzynski has been actively involved in the futures industry since 1974. He served as Special Liaison to the Director of the Cabinet under the Reagan Administration.

Dick Mucci

Dick is an experienced insurance industry executive and board director who is an expert in insurance business governance and management. He recently retired as the President of the Group Protection business for the Lincoln Financial Group. In this role, he was responsible for the strategy, operations, and financial management of a multi-billion dollar revenue non-medical employee benefit business. While at Lincoln, he successfully led an acquisition which doubled the size of the business. Prior to Lincoln, he served as Chairman and CEO of New York Life International where he led their multinational insurance operation and served as a Board Director for several subsidiary companies including the joint ventures in India and China. His preceding experiences include leadership of the employee benefit business for The Hartford and the individual disability income business for MassMutual. Earlier in his career, he rose to the level of Chief Operating Officer and served as a Board Director for The Paul Revere Corporation. His management leadership experiences have included many situations involving turn-arounds, developing new business models and strategies, managing significant change, M&A, and building high performance teams while consistently achieving superior results. Dick is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, and holds BA and MA degrees from Boston College.

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Steve Schmidt

Steve Schmidt is the former President, International Office Depot ($3.5B — 58 countries) and former CEO of AC Nielsen ($2.5B — 114 countries).  Earlier experience includes senior roles in Sales, Brand Marketing, and General Management at Pillsbury, Pepsi, and P&G.  Steve brings over 35 years of experience in consumer packaged goods, market research, international, retail, marketing, ecommerce and success in both business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies.  Additionally, Steve has board experience with publicly traded companies and nonprofits.

Carol A. Schumacher

Carol is a highly accomplished corporate affairs executive, with a track record of providing strategic counsel to C-suite leaders and boards, as well as enhancing reputations for major, highly visible global companies. As a corporate officer at Walmart, Home Depot, Signet Jewelers, Intercontinental Exchange and Kerr-McGee (acquired by Anadarko), she has extensive experience in strategic messaging and positioning, crisis preparation and risk management, corporate governance and stakeholder engagement to support shareholder value, reputation and business transformations. Previous management roles were with global marketing communications agencies. She currently serves as an advisor and consultant to public-traded and private companies. On St. Bonaventure University’s Board of Trustees since 2015, Carol currently serves on three key committees. She presents on topics related to investor relations and communications at industry meetings and educational forums. She holds a MA in public relations from Rowan University and a BA in journalism from St. Bonaventure University.

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Christopher Stevens

Chris Stevens currently serves on the faculty of the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame. He was one of the four people to develop and launch the Keurig Premium Coffee Systems in 1998. Chris has taught Business Problem Solving and the Interterm Intensive course for the Notre Dame MBA. His expertise includes sales, marketing, entrepreneurship, corporate relations and general management. In addition to Keurig, Chris has worked for notable companies such as Procter & Gamble and Anheuser-Busch during his 38-year professional career, and has contributed to seven startups as an angel investor. He serves on the boards of the ND Monogram Club, the Chicago Chamber of Commerce and ALS. He earned a BA in economics from Notre Dame and completed the Executive Education program at Columbia University.