The New Wharton Middle East Club Serves a Thriving Business Community

Over the past few years, the Middle East has been one of the world’s most active emerging markets. Changing geo-politics and high levels of liquidity driven by rising oil prices, accompanied by local economic reforms, have fueled the growth of this region and bolstered its business environment. The finance, real estate, petrochemicals, and services sectors have all been thriving, and are providing attractive career opportuni- ties for talented business professionals. As a result, there has been a significant inflow of both local and expatriate tal- ent, including Wharton graduates.

An Active Regional Club With the growth in the number of alumni in the region, current students and alumni have been working to tighten the links with the School. The hard work of many dedicated individu- als, led by Fadi Abou-Arbid, WG’03, and Raymond Noujaim, WG’02, finally resulted in the School’s approval of the Wharton Middle East Club (WMEC) in February 2006. The Club has three goals: 1) to provide a forum for interaction amongst alumni in the Middle East, 2) to foster strong bonds between alumni in the region and the School, and 3) to increase the name recognition and prestige of the School in the region. The Club will offer a wide range of social, educational, and career development activities through- out the year. Its first official event was the Wharton Alumni Global Forum in Istanbul, held in June. To organize these activities, the Club will rely on the 150 to 200 Wharton alumni living in the Middle East, as well as the more than 500 alumni from the Middle East living outside of the region. Anyone with Wharton alumni

or special programs — is encouraged to join. The Club will be a nonprofit association managed by officers elected by the membership and committee members who serve on a voluntary basis. Members are welcome to participate in this management process.

Fadi Abou-Arbid, WG’03, Ghassan Barrage, WG’78, Hala Ghandour, WG’04, Rami Ghandour, WG’03, and Karim Farra, WG’04, at a reception in Beirut, Lebanon

Wharton’s Growing Regional Presence
The Wharton School has long recognized the importance of the Middle East region, and has been expanding its presence there. The following are a few notable achievements:

• The Wharton School added two prominent Middle Eastern businessmen to the Wharton Executive Board — Mohammed Alshaya, WG’84 and Hassan Yamani,WG’83.

• The University of Pennsylvania’s Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies added an Arabic language track, which includes a two-month stay in Morocco learning the culture and language, and visits to leading companies in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

• The Wharton classes of 2003 and 2004 had the largest-ever enrollments of students of Arab descent

• In 2005, the Wharton Family Alliance chose Dubai as the location for its first official meeting.

• Since 2003, three Admission receptions have been held in the region (in Cairo, Beirut, and Dubai). Each reception was attended by a representative of the School’s Admissions Office.

• In February, the School gave its final approval of the Wharton Middle East Club.

• In May, Dubai World announced the launch of Dubai Leaders Program, a leadership initiative aimed at building a corps of leaders, in collaboration with the Wharton School.

• In June, the Wharton Alumni Global Forum for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East was held in Istanbul.

The WMEC is off to a great start, and is looking forward to a bright future of growth and opportunities for Wharton alumni living in, or originating from, this thriving region. For more information about the Club and its activities, contact its START-UP committee members: Fadi Abou-Arjid at, or visit WMEC’s website,  


E. Papakonstantinou, a chemist-engineer who directs conservation at the Acropolis, discusses her work in the context of the 2005 event, “Extroversion as a Factor of Modernization and Development.”

Wharton Club of Greece Joins With Peers to Create Larger Network

Networking is about expanding contacts through a broad net of acquaintances, but until 2005, the Wharton Club of Greece formed a tightly closed circle. While the Club started its operations in 2003, the limited number of Wharton graduates in the small European country prevented the club from holding big events. In order to open up the network and have a bigger impact, in 2005 the leaders of the club invited other “small” alumni clubs of prominent U.S. and European universities and graduate business schools to join in activities. A powerful new network was created.

A total of 17 alumni clubs (Babson, Bocconi, Boston University, Columbia, Georgetown, Harvard, INSEAD, Kellogg, LBS, Michigan, MIT, Northeastern, NYU, Oxford, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, and Wharton) joined forces and formed the Coordinating Committee of Alumni Associations. The single loose association created a large network of graduates who share a common business culture, who care about their professions and their careers and who want to see their country, Greece, become more involved on a world stage.

An Outward View
The first joint event was held a year ago on July 6, 2005, at the Hilton Athens Hotel. Entitled “Extroversion as a Factor of Modernization and Development,” the half-day conference included speakers from the government, NGOs, the diplomatic corps, and the academic community, as well as the business community. Greece is currently engaged in an effort to modernize, and alumni members who have lived and studied abroad have the outward-looking mentality that is the first prerequisite for modernization.

The conference was attended by more than 500 people. The opening remarks were made by the Leader of the Opposition, Andreas Papandreou, the guest speaker at the dinner was the Minister of Economy G. Alogoskoufis, while the closing speech was given by Christian Hadjiminas, WG’83, president of the Wharton Club of Greece.

Christian Hadjiminas, WG’83, president of the Wharton Club of Greece, at the first joint event held by the Coordinating Committee of Alumni Associations in Greece.

The Network Grows
Following the success of the first event, the association grew to 21 alumni clubs with the addition of Tufts, Yale, Princeton, and LSE. The 2006 conference, “Education & Extroversion,” was held June 18, 2006. The new conference highlighted the ways education influences and enhances competitiveness, pointed out the obstacles in the Greek educational system that prevent the achievement of this aim, presented successful educational systems from foreign countries but mainly to propose a number of “small, feasible, and immediate” actions that can upgrade education in Greece in a manner that can contribute to the country’s effort to become more extroverted and competitive.

The Wharton Club of Greece has found its outreaches are paying off. The club has grown to 38 members, and plans to hold an event in November, inviting a Wharton faculty member to speak, as well holding its annual Christmas party in December.

Says Hadjiminas, “We are happy to say that despite its initial modest beginnings with a maximum participation of 10 to 15 members, the Wharton Club of Greece has now become a well-known alumni club in Greece and a coordinator of 21 alumni clubs, with an active membership that exceeds 1,500 persons.”


Chuck Bush, WG’01, Ben Katz, WG’02, and K.W. Low, WG’01, at the Wharton SoCal monthly happy hour in Beverly Hills.

Who says the California lifestyle is relaxed? The Wharton Club of Southern California has put together one of the most active, varied programs for an enthusiastic and growing membership of 3,000 area alumni. In the past 18 months, club president Meesh Joslyn, W’93, WG’98, Jerry Kornblau, WG’86, and a devoted core of volunteers have planned something for everyone — topical speaking events featuring faculty and alumni, targeted networking opportunities including C-Circle, Real Estate, Wharton Women, and Media & Entertainment, and (naturally) beach and golf parties.

An Event for Every Career
Events are scheduled throughout Los Angeles and Orange County. A partial list of 2006 gatherings includes:

• The Investment Outlook for 2006 panel discussion

• “Running a Non-Profit” featuring Hope Wohl, WG’92, President of

• Panel on The Mommy Wars moderated by author Leslie Morgan Steiner, WG’92, featuring Amelia Tyagi, WG’96, Carla McLoughlin, WG’96, and Laura Brand, WG’99

Nick Franklin, WG’96 and Mark Pearson, WG’99, at the 2006 Media & Entertainment Panel in Burbank, CA, on March 30, 2006.

• Media and Entertainment panel moderated by Professor Pete Fader, featuring Nick Franklin, WG’96, SVP International Development, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, President, Walt Disney Attractions Japan; Josh Resnick, WG’93, President & co-founder, Pandemic Studios, LLC; Mark Pearson, WG’99, SVP, Brand & Franchise Management, 20th Century Fox Television; Larry Tanz, WG’99, CEO, LivePlanet.

• Demographic Shifts and Real Estate panel

• Gutsy Women and Savvy Entrepreneurs event co-hosted with HBS

• Speaking event with Passion at Work author Lawler Kang, WG’96

• M&E brownbag lunch series, featuring Dan Smith, WG’86, VP Production, Playboy Entertainment

• Entrepreneurs roundtable featuring Chris Rothey, W’96, COO and co-founder,

• Wharton/Penn Summer Dinner at Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach

• Wharton Women Potluck Dinner in Santa Monica

Finally, most importantly, the group hosts monthly happy hours and invites applicants and students to join in. End-of-summer events will include the 3rd Annual Wharton/Penn Summer Dinner in Santa Monica on July 25 and an Inaugural MBA Masters Golf Classic at the Robinson Ranch Golf Club on July 29. For more information, visit


Yoshinori Sato, WG’96; Shegenori Araki, WG’96, Montgomery Harris, and Ken Nakamura, WG’96 at the annual meeting of the Wharton Club in Japan.

Connections between Wharton and Japan stretch back to Wharton’s beginnings. One of the five men in Wharton’s first graduating class in 1884 was Shiro Shiba, who later became a member of the Japanese Diet. With such a long intertwined history, it’s only fitting that the Wharton Club of Japan recognized the Wharton 125th anniversary with its 2006 Annual Meeting (So-kai), in an event that recognized Wharton’s past, present, and future.

Keisuke Muratzu, WG’75, President of the Wharton Club of Japan, welcomed a total of 110 alumni to the meeting. In addition, 18 prospective students in attendance were able to see the power of Wharton’s alumni network in action. The event, held at Top of the Square, UTAGE, in Tokyo, was also attended by Montgomery Harris, Wharton’s Associate Director, Regional Programs; Thomas Caleel, WG’03, Director of MBA Admissions, and Matthew Greene, WG’89, Managing Director of Utendahl Capital Partners, LP, and a member of the Wharton Graduate Executive Board.

Toshihiko Okiayu, WG’00, Chief Secretary of Wharton Club of Japan served as Master of Ceremonies for the event. The meeting committee included Yasuko Ono, WG’01, and Shinji Okumura, WG’90, while Wharton alumni Keizo Tsutsui, WG’98, of Dream Incubator Inc., Iwao Tomita,WG’63, of Tohmatsu /Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, and Toshio Iwasaki, WG’70, of Cresco Ltd. were individual sponsors.

The club’s next event will be held in Osaka. For more information, contact