“The $700 Billion Man” is an enviable nickname, but it’s attached to Neel Kashkari WG02 for unexpected reasons: The former Treasury Department assistant secretary helped craft the TARP program — the $700 billion bailout fund — during the 2008 financial crisis. When he was featured in this magazine in 2013, he was leading investments at Pimco; he made a run for governor of California shortly after that. In 2016, Kashkari became head of the Federal Reserve bank in Minneapolis, which has given him a say in setting current interest rates; the position puts him on a policy-deciding committee with Fed chair Jerome Powell. (A recent feature in the New York Times and a 2022 profile on 60 Minutes did deep dives on Kashkari’s economic philosophies.)
Another alum who walked the halls of the White House is Michelle Peluso W93. In 1998, she was noted for her new role as a White House fellow. From there, Peluso held executive roles in marketing at IBM and as CEO of Travelocity (after it acquired Site 59, a company she founded, for a reported $43 million); she joined CVS in 2021 and is now chief customer officer and EVP for CVS Health and co-president of CVS Pharmacy. Peluso arrives at a challenging time, when storefronts are closing and competition is fierce, and is tasked with improving customer experience in person and online. She also sits on Nike’s board.
Peluso’s classmate, Rajan Kundra W93, also went into the business world — but with a twist. Profiled in a 2008 article titled “Profitability for Good,” Kundra left his Wall Street job to join a VC firm that invests in companies making a positive social impact. In 2016, he took that experience to the World Wildlife Fund as VP of impact investing. There, he leads a fund that brings investments to early-stage companies that address environmental and social issues.
Similarly, Lindsay Beck WG13 built a career at the intersection of business and impact. In 2013, she was featured in our “Putting Knowledge Into Action” cover story after her nonprofit, Fertile Hope, was acquired by the Livestrong Foundation. (Beck’s rare-cancer diagnosis — and how treatment might impact her fertility — was the inspiration behind her cause.) She then lent her philanthropic know-how to Goldman Sachs and Beauty Counter and co-founded NPX, which helped other companies create effective giving initiatives. Today, Beck is CIO at TMRW Life Sciences, a biotech firm focused on transforming IVF.
Like Beck, Ndidi Obaji WG17 was in Wharton Magazine for her impressive achievements as a student. She came to Wharton with an undergrad degree in engineering and experience working with ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips and — as she noted in the 2015 story about students to watch — was interested in female representation in engineering and energy. After graduation, she spent four years at Enviva, a global company that specializes in sustainable wood products (as an energy alternative to coal), and in 2022 joined Geno as the director of strategy and corporate development. The San Diego-based company aims to remake the products we use daily in sustainable form.
James Martin W82 has a global focus, albeit through his work as a Jesuit priest. At the time of his 2003 feature, he was an associate editor at America magazine. Since then, he’s become a New York Times best-selling author and public speaker and has more than 300,000 followers on Twitter. He’s even on TikTok. (Don’t expect any dancing, though there’s plenty of content to make you smile.) In 2017, Pope Francis asked Martin to be a consultant to the Vatican’s communications. (Think writings, TV, and more.) He’s known for his support of the LGBTQ+ community, which was the subject of a documentary produced by Martin Scorsese that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Speaking of Hollywood, Gregg Spiridellis WG99 is in a special group of alumni — those who are Emmy winners. He’s also a pioneer of viral online content. In 2005, he was written about here for co-founding JibJab, the digital entertainment studio that created satirical commercials for companies like Disney and Sony and eventually launched a customizable e-card product that got a lot of attention during the 2004 presidential election for featuring George W. Bush and John Kerry being quite silly. In 2012, Spiridellis co-created StoryBots — the reason for those Emmys — which was sold to Netflix in 2019. Today, he’s writing and producing for the streamer and building HiHo, a company that’s doing something downright revolutionary — developing apps that prioritize authentic, meaningful, positive connections.
In 2001, Brett Hurt WG99 was featured in a Wharton Magazine article titled “Is Your Website Working For You?” He was two years into building SaaS company Coremetrics, which he sold to IBM in 2010. (The answer to our question, for Hurt, was a resounding yes.) Twenty-two years later, his CV is nearly as long as War and Peace: He took Bazaarvoice — which helps retailers encourage online engagement — public in 2012 and has been running cloud-based open data B-Corp Data.world since 2015. In his free time, he’s an author, a mentor, a board member, and an active investor through Hurt Family Investments, which pointedly supports Wharton student entrepreneurs.
Alumnus Marc Lore is another serial entrepreneur, with business interests spanning everything from flying taxis to nuclear physics. When this magazine caught up with him in 2011, Lore had just sold his e-com Quidsi to Amazon for $545 million; in 2017, he was featured here as the CEO of e-commerce at Walmart, after the retailer purchased his Jet.com for $3.3 billion. Besides investing and co-owning the Minnesota Timberwolves, he’s now two years into launching Wonder, which picked up $350 million in funding last year. Wonder pairs celebrity chef recipes with a delivery model, so you can get José Andrés’s tapas wherever you live. The company began by cooking and serving from mobile kitchens but has since transitioned to brick-and-mortar; its first location opened in New York in March.
Published as “Still Making News” in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Wharton Magazine. This piece and “Where Are They Now: 40 Under 40” are part of the “Where Are They Now?” feature.