REMBA Alumni Association

Rutgers Business School

REMBA Spotlight–Sunil Wimalawansa, MD, PhD, MBA, DSc

Wimalawansa photoSunil J. Wimalawansa, MD, PhD, MBA, DSc
Professor of Medicine, Endocrinology & Nutrition, retired
University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey
North Brunswick, NJ

Academic endocrinologist Sunil J. Wimalawansa, MD, PhD, MBA, DSc (Class of 2006), is busy in his early retirement. During his career, Dr. Wimalawansa received awards recognizing his endocrinology and osteoporosis research and humanitarian contributions, including the Dr. Boy Frame Award for Clinical Excellence in Metabolic Bone Diseases, American Endocrine Society Glen Foundation Award, and an innovation award from the Asian Chamber of Commerce. In 2007, the International Society for Clinical Densitometry recognized his charitable contributions with the Dr. Oscar Gluck Humanitarian Award. He’s currently investigating a highly cost-effective micronutrient supplement for pregnant women in his native Sri Lanka to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality due to malnutrition and infant mortality due to low birth weight. He has also recently developed a cost-effective water purification method that is applicable globally. Through his educational and healthcare nonprofit organization, the Wimalawansa Foundation, Dr. Wimalawansa is providing potable water to remote villages, educating kids who are in need, overseeing the construction of a unique environmental center, and raising awareness about the surge of non-communicable diseases, including chronic kidney disease of unusual origin (CKDue) in the country’s North Central Province.

Says Jennifer Kirby (Class of 2005), one of Dr. Wimalawansa’s REMBA friends, “He expresses the dharma in his commitment to bettering the lives of people through access to health and information.”—Suzanne Bujara (2010)

How do you describe your current position? Last year I retired after 38 years in academia, as a professor of endocrinology and the chief of endocrinology, metabolism, and nutrition at the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey, now part of Rutgers University. Though I’m officially retired, I still teach nationally and internationally, serve on several boards of directors of health-related organizations and journal editorial boards, and continue my philanthropic work, which I’ve been doing for 35 years.

How did you get to where you are now? My father, who was the chief administrator for the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo, would frequently travel to villages throughout the country, so I would see the misery of poverty firsthand. Even as a kid, I realized that I should do whatever I could to improve people’s lives. I was fortunate that my parents did not force me to go into medicine; it was my choice. My parents created for me the path of education and defined right from wrong.

What got you interested in setting up a charitable organization in Sri Lanka? A year after I graduated medical school, I worked at one of the remotest hospitals in Sri Lanka. This 80-bed facility, a District Hospital, had no electricity, running water, or any nursing staff. It was during these 11 months that I tested my ingenuity because patients refused to be transferred to a better equipped hospital 3 hours away. Among others, I treated grossly infected wounds with papaya as the hospital had no antibiotics. I was relieved to see that this natural remedy quickly sloughed off the dead tissue (as good as a surgical treatment) and I was able to send patients home within days.

During my stay, through the help of family, friends, and villagers, we were able to wire the hospital with electricity as well as plumbing to provide clean running water to the entire hospital. When I would periodically return to this remote facility, I was overwhelmed by the gratitude of former patients. They treated me like a god.

How did you garner support for your efforts? When I first started my charitable organization, I had my fellow Sri Lankans and family members assisting me. Now, I have others helping, including doctoral students from Canada, New Zealand, and Australia doing field work in medicine, engineering, construction, and other assistance. They have been instrumental in helping me to develop the model Nature Center to educate children and adults about the importance of maintaining a healthy environment and sustainability.

Are you seeking volunteers for your organization? Yes! I’m especially interested in getting assistance in various areas of expertise, including fundraising and corporate social responsibility. If anyone is interested working with our philanthropic organizations, please contact me at suniljw@hotmail.com. We’d love to work with you.

Of all the awards and honors, what are you most proud of? That I’ve always told the truth, regardless of how painful it may have been. I have no fear. I’m not intimidated by opposition or politically powerful people. I’m glad I stood up for injustices, especially environmental issues in Sri Lanka on the matter of clean drinking water, which I believe would reduce the escalating incidence of chronic kidney disease and premature deaths.

What gets you up in the morning? The opportunity to help people excites me and gets me moving. Though I’m retired, I still get calls from patients and physician colleagues in far-flung parts of the globe—Australia, Sri Lanka, and South Africa—who call me for consultations. Patients find me on the Internet, and I’m happy to help them, even if they call me at 2 am!

 

REMBA Spotlight—Krishna Malyala

Krishna Malyala

Krishna Malyala
Co-founder
TLCengine
Piscataway, New Jersey

 

Krishna Malyala (Class of 2011), technology entrepreneur and co-founder of TLCengine, is about to complete a monumental project as an Entrepreneur for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), part of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program. For the past 13 months, he has been part of HHS’s agency-wide initiative that taps innovative thinking to improve government processes and systems. The HHS Entrepreneurs program was established to allow talented professionals from outside the government to apply the efficient methodologies of private business to critical national healthcare challenges.—Suzanne Bujara (2010)

Congratulations on your acceptance into the HHS Entrepreneurs Program. How did you hear about it?
In summer 2013, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced they were seeking applications for the Entrepreneurs program. More than 200 entrepreneurs from across the nation applied. I was selected as one of only five to be hired. HHS’s Chief Technology Officer oversees this program.

What is your professional background?
I’m originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and earned a bachelor of science in computer engineering from Penn State University while working as a paramedic. I have served in many technology leadership roles, including the VP of Technology at CitiGroup’s Rethink Innovation Lab, Chief Technology Officer for a major wireless internet company, and co-founder of TLCengine, a software startup that calculates the actual costs of home ownership. I’ve also worked as a patent examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Tell us about your project.
I’m working with the Department of Health and Human Services on the National Practitioner Databank (NPDB) to geotag medical malpractice cases by state. The official name of the project is Cloud-Based Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Maps Displaying Aggregate Data on Medical Malpractice. The NPDB is a registry of healthcare professionals’ violations in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, license suspensions, and medical malpractice awards. Authorized entities, such as hospitals, use the NPDB to check prospective hires.

My role entails bringing new and innovative thinking to the Data Bank. Specifically, I’m focusing on geospatial data and visualization of summarized data used for research. I work with staff across the entire Data Bank team, but especially with the Research Branch and the Operations and Administration Branch. An example of what I’ve been working on is the new address validation tool.

How are you hoping to improve the Data Bank?
I’m making summarized data more open and transparent to the public, and bringing new cloud technology solutions to modernize the Data Bank. I also am introducing lean startup methodologies and agile software engineering practices that could help the Data Bank to accelerate priority software changes.

What are the most challenging aspects of your project?
It is difficult to grasp the sheer complexity of the Data Bank system and business rules in a short time, while also looking for quick wins that can have an instant impact on users. Another major challenge is getting to the root-cause of an issue. In these cases, I employ the “Five Whys” technique, first developed in the Toyota Production System.  Determining the root cause is the first step towards streamlining the system screens.

What have you learned from your experience as an HHS Entrepreneur?
I’ve learned that if you don’t have buy-in from the leadership, any innovation is bound to fail. I now question everything: Why are we doing it this way? It’s frustrating, but also rewarding.

How has this experience helped you in your entrepreneurial ventures?
I’ve learned to disregard the rules. If something isn’t needed, it needs to go. Also, I’ve learned not to doubt my abilities.

Like many of my colleagues in the Entrepreneur program, I do hope that my networking leads to a contracting opportunity. For example, the True Lifestyle Cost program and website I co-founded that estimates the day-to-day expenses of relocating to another neighborhood or town would be a great service for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It’s not just the mortgage payment prospective homebuyers need to consider. They also need to know how much commuting, groceries, and insurance will cost in their new location. Just recently I spoke at a National Association of Realtors conference on emerging technology and landed a large contract with real estate agents who will use TLCengine for their search platform.

How has the EMBA program prepared you to participate as an HHS Entrepreneur?
Prof. Barry Karafin’s class really helped me to get things done with this government project. Knowing how to negotiate and set a strategy were some of the biggest takeaways from the EMBA program.

What have you read recently that resonated with you?
Malcolm Gladwell’s book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, is a great reminder that the little guy can defeat the giant. Knowing the right strategies and your opponent’s weaknesses can help you to beat the competition.

The 2014 MBA Carnival Comes to Town

On Saturday June 14th, the New Brunswick Student Services MBA Council will be hosting a Carnival for MBA students and alumni at the Scarlet Lot on Livingston Campus in Piscataway. Admission is FREE! The time is 12-4 PM. There will be free hot dogs, BBQ, corn on the cob and more! Plus FREE stuff for the kids: a bouncy castle, face painting, a balloonist, sand art, spin art, and a dunk tank!

RSVP here! https://qtrial2014.az1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_6rRAu4yqGOOdLHn

Rutgers MBA Carnival

REMBA Sponsorship Opportunity

On Monday, August 4, 2014, the Rutgers Executive MBA Alumni Association (REMBA-AA) will be hosting its Annual Golf Outing at Shackamaxon Country Club in Scotch Plains, NJ. We invite you to increase your engagement with a cohort of successful New Jersey business leaders.

For nearly 30 years, the Rutgers Executive MBA program has been growing in prominence and is now one of the most recognized and respected Executive MBA programs worldwide. It continues to garner national and international recognition from The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, Business Week and The Financial Times.

Our elite alumni can be found in C- suites and senior executive positions in a full range of businesses including Fortune 500 firms such as Bank of America, Johnson & Johnson, Verizon, Pfizer and many, many more.

We hope you consider one of the attached sponsorship opportunities and make your presence felt at this year’s REMBA-AA Seventh Annual Golf Outing.

Click below for information on packages available. For more information, contact John Tintera at 908-265-6148.

Golf Sponsor Flyer-2014

REMBA Spotlight—Neal Shah

For years, Neal Shah (Class of 2013) concentrated on his day job as an auditor. But a few months after his graduation from the Rutgers EMBA program, he unleashed his creative talents on YouTube with the inaugural Fireside Chats featuring Prof. Farrokh Langdana. What? You haven’t seen the videos yet? Watch them first, Like It, then come back and read this. You’ll be glad you did!—Suzanne Bujara (2010)

What do you do professionally? How did you get started in your career? I’m an auditor and certified fraud examiner for CohnReznick. I really wanted to do something more creative, but my immigrant parents wanted me to focus on something practical.

Congratulations on your Director’s Award. Did it come as a big surprise? Yes, it was. I didn’t think I did all that much to get this attention and I certainly didn’t expect this.

What gave you the idea to do the Fireside Chats? Farrokh mentioned that a student from the 2014 class, Manoj Thomas, went to Columbia for a class and they were producing these types of videos to keep the alumni engaged with the program. With a bit of trial and error, we came up with the Fireside Chats idea and feel that alumni as far back as the 1994 class can reconnect with the program by watching their former professors on the web.

Can you give us an idea of what is involved in producing one video? It’s surprising that people who are used to speaking in front of large groups get nervous when you put a camera in front of them. There’s no room for error because the camera catches things you don’t see in person. As a result, there’s about 40 hours of post-production work to trim 3 hours of raw video into a more manageable 10-minute YouTube video. Thankfully, my classmates help with the lighting, sound, camera work, logo, and post-production editing. Now that I have 3 cameras and better lighting, the next videos will have higher production values.

Who decides the content and the length of the videos? The ideal video length is no longer than 20 minutes, so Farrokh and I went back and forth with several versions of the initial Fireside Chat. In the end, he decides what the content will be. I’m grateful that he has provided me with a canvas to showcase my hobby.

What has been the reaction of your classmates and other EMBA alumni? The reaction has been outstanding and that was what we were aiming for.  Plus, most of the comments were directed to Farrokh, which is the main point of this project as I did not want to bring attention to myself.

Who’s your dream interview? I’d like to reach out to big-name alumni and emphasize that the Rutgers EMBA program deserves to be recognized just as much as some nearby business schools. There are so many notable alumni listed on the wall of honor in the vestibule of Rutgers Business School’s Washington Park building.

What are we likely to see next on the Fireside Chats? We are working on many ideas, and would love any and all suggestions from the alumni world as this is for them, and if we continue to improve, we will have success.

Besides your film crew, do you keep in touch with other classmates from 2013? Yes, our original study group of 8 people meets monthly at restaurants. I’m glad that some of them are able to work with me on the Fireside Chats. We’re fortunate that as Rutgers EMBA alumni we do know the people sitting to our right and left in the classroom—and we continue to reminisce about our life-changing experiences in the program.

Flex MBA Drinks Event

The Rutgers "Block R"

The Rutgers “Block R”

The Rutgers Business School Flex MBA Program has announced a networking event. If you’re interested in mentoring current MBA students and/or want to get a flavor of the differences between your EMBA and the Rutgers Flex MBA, then why not attend? And beers are discounted!

When: Friday, January 24, 2014 6-9 PM
Where: World of Beer – New Brunswick
VIP Section Seating
$5 Wings, Flatbreads, Pretzels
$1 off all beverages and cocktails
RSVP: Diane Hannah: dianehanna714@gmail.com

Welcome!

The Rutgers "Block R"

The Rutgers “Block R”

Welcome to the Rutgers Executive MBA Alumni Association. We are a 1,500 person-strong organization committed to excellence in business and the highest ethical standards. Since the first EMBA class graduated from Rutgers Business School in 1982, we have been united by a real-world approach to the science of business adminstration. Like our alma mater, we have Jersey roots, but a global reach. Our members are business leaders in a variety of industries across America and around the world. Our mission is to enhance the career opportunities for every member while at the same time showing the world through our actions the value and expertise that comes from a Rutgers Business School degree. Our program was recently ranked in the top 25 EMBA programs in America by The Financial Times and #26 in the world by Bloomberg Businessweek. In the words of the esteemed current director of REMBA, “Welcome to the Powerhouse.”

Speed Networking Event

REMBA Alumni are cordially invited to participate in the Eighth Annual Rutgers Alumni-Student Career Speed Networking on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at the College Avenue Student Center in New Brunswick. If you have not registered, please do so by visiting:

Rutgers Alumni Calendar

and
Connect with Rutgers students in a fast-paced “Speed Networking” environment;

Provide networking tips and help students become confident job-seekers;

Enjoy alumni-to-alumni networking.

The program is hosted by the Rutgers Alumni Association (RAA) Undergraduate Committee in partnership with the Rutgers University Career Services, and co-sponsored by the Associate Alumni of Douglass College, Cook Community Alumni Association, Livingston Alumni Association, Graduate School of Education Alumni Association, Rutgers Engineering Society, University College NB Alumni Association and Graduate School New Brunswick Alumni Association.

THE DETAILS

Speed Networking

Wednesday, December 4, 6:00-9:30 p.m.

College Avenue Student Center

125 College Avenue

New Brunswick, NJ
Free parking will be available in Lots 26 and 30 behind the Rutgers Student Center and in the College Avenue parking deck. No permit required for this event that evening. You may call RU INFO (732-445-INFO) and they will be glad to assist with directions to the College Avenue Student Center.
6:00–6:50 pm Alumni Registration/Meet & Greet – Complimentary light supper and beverages will be served. There will be time for alumni to network during the dinner/Meet & Greet

7:00–7:15 pm Welcome & Evening Overview

7:15–8:15 pm Speed Networking – A series of approximately 15-20 three-minute exchanges between students and alumni

8:15–8:30 pm Break

8:15–9:30 pm Dessert, Social Hour-Business Card Exchange – Network development, Relationship building …
We will provide both you and the students with talking points and other pertinent information in advance of the event.

We look forward to seeing you, and should you have any questions, please contact:
Houshang Parsa
Co-Chair,

Undergraduate Committee

Rutgers Alumni Association
raaundergrad@gmail.com
RSVP HERE

REMBA in the Spotlight: Marty Schecter

Marty Schecter

Marty Schecter
VP, Digital Business
John Wiley and Sons
Hoboken, New Jersey

The epitome of a Renaissance man, Marty Schecter (Class of 2013), is the first person in the EMBA program to win the coveted Ivan Brick Award for Achievement in Advanced Finance and Valuation. An accomplished author, presenter, and educator, Marty is equally adroit at maneuvering words, numbers, and musicians.

–Suzanne Bujara (Class of 2010)

                                             

What do you do professionally?

I lead the digital transformation planning for a business unit of Wiley, a 206-year-old publisher. The publishing business like many is undergoing disruption due to migration to digital consumption. My role is to create new business models and build digital revenues through product and market development. I lead a small team that works with our global publishing teams in the US, UK, and Asia on developing these new businesses, which we do through a combination of acquisition of fast-growing digital companies, development of new products such as online learning or professional research tools, and development of new digital solutions and custom selling.

How did you arrive where you are today?

I made the transition into publishing around four years ago from the world of digital marketing, which I did for over a decade. I used to run a small digital agency. Before there was such a thing as the internet, I used to teach creative writing at a small private university in Iowa. I left Academia and got into the digital thing in 1994 when I moved to New York just as the internet became a hot topic. I worked in several ecommerce startups and online advertising. We did the very first online shopping mall in 1995.

Congratulations on your Ivan Brick Award for Achievement in Advanced Finance and Valuation. How did you accomplish this?

Professor Brick was determined to scare us into thinking we would find his exam extremely hard. I usually wasn’t too worried about exams, but in this case I took his warning to heart. I probably studied more for his final than for any three other classes combined, with the possible exception of Accounting. I read his readings at least five times until I started to see deeper hidden connections. You know the scene in movies where the detective has been studying clues and has gone a bit crazy drawing intricate doodles and diagrams on his walls until the wee hours of the night? That’s a bit what my office felt like in the days before the exam.

Describe how your marketing class evolved in the REMBA program. (For those of us who already graduated, please tell us what we’re missing!)

I used to run a digital marketing agency, so there were some things about marketing I probably have picked up. But many of my classmates had no prior marketing exposure. When Professor Jagpal started introducing us to demand dynamics and all his risk-adjusted modeling, it really opened up an entirely new way of thinking for me, but some of my classmates were struggling having missed some of the basics.

Before I started my MBA, I had taught a class in the Rutgers Digital Marketing Mini-MBA, so I offered to do a basic “intro to marketing” course. This then led to my doing exam prep sessions for Professor Jagpal’s midterm and final. When Professor Langdana wanted to improve the digital marketing component of the curriculum, I think I had passed the student feedback test, so he and I devised this three-session module. He gave me free rein to design the course.

I wanted to give students an overview framework for how digital marketing works—the consumer decision journey, how digital marketing ties in to innovation and social media, and how to measure the ROI of digital marketing. I’ve tried to boil down a big, diverse subject into a concise overview, which ties in to strategy and finance. It also ideally will be a good framework for marketing majors who would dive deeper into some of the new courses in web analytics and market research taught by Professors Suk and Wang.

When mentoring colleagues or classmates, what’s your go-to mantra?

Be clear, and have people build on their strengths. You can’t build Rome overnight.

What’s the best career advice you have been given?

The best way to be valuable is to make your boss’s job easier.

What are you currently reading?

Blue Ocean Strategy, on Professor Barry Karafin’s list, is an oldy but goody. It’s immensely useful for innovation. And it seems to be the only strategy for growth anymore. For fun I’m reading a novel called The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides. It’s about English majors growing up in the 80’s, something I relate to.

What hidden talent do you have?

In high school, I used to choreograph our marching band shows.

 

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