Business Leaders Blog

Aug 27 2014

Vlad Shmunis Reimagines Business Communications

Vlad Shmunis is the founder, CEO, and chairman of the board of RingCentral, a business communications solutions provider headquartered in San Mateo, California. Shmunis founded RingCentral in 1999 and launched its cloud business phone service in 2003 after realizing that businesses needed a cheaper and more flexible alternative to hardware-based phone systems.

Under Shmunis’ leadership, RingCentral has reinvented business communications. The company now helps more than 300,000 customers work the way they want in a mobile, distributed world through a variety of products and services.

The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 Northern California Award finalist, Shmunis has over 25 years of industry and management experience. Prior to RingCentral, he founded a desktop software communications company called Ring Zero Systems, which he led as CEO.

Shmunis graduated from San Francisco State University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science. He is a named inventor in several US patents.

Aug 25 2014

James L. Dolan, CEO of Cablevision

James L. Dolan is the chief executive officer of Cablevision Systems Corporation, one of the leading telecommunications and media companies in the US. Founded in 1973, Cablevision delivers television, phone, and Internet services to millions of households and businesses across the New York metropolitan area.

As CEO, Dolan oversees the company’s extensive telecommunications properties, including its popular digital cable television, high-speed Internet, digital voice, and Wi-Fi services under the Optimum brand. He also supervises Cablevision’s award-winning local media and programming properties, which include News 12 Networks, the country’s first 24-hour hyper-local news service; amNewYork, a popular New York City daily; and Newsday, Long Island’s leading daily newspaper.

Dolan guides Cablevision’s community and philanthropic efforts as well. The company’s Power to Learn program is a nationally recognized education initiative that gives K-12 schools free access to its full suite of Optimum-branded services. In 1998, Dolan, chairman Charles Dolan, and former vice chairman Marc Lutsgarten launched The Lustgarten Foundation to support pancreatic cancer research. With Dolan’s approval, Cablevision has made a multi-year commitment to underwrite the non-profit’s costs and use its assets to promote the curePC campaign, which raises awareness about pancreatic cancer.

Aside from leading Cablevision, Dolan serves as the executive chairman of MSG, a former subsidiary of Cablevision. Dolan oversees the company’s overall growth strategy and the management of its various entities, which include Madison Square Garden, The Chicago Theatre, Radio City Music Hall, and the New York Knicks, among others.

Dolan also sits on the boards of directors of Cablevision, MSG, AMC Networks, The Lustgarten Foundation, the Breathe Easy Play Hard Foundation, C-SPAN, and Tribeca Enterprises. He is a member of the Dean’s Council at New York University Steinhardt School. Dolan joined Cablevision in the 1970s and has held several executive positions at Cablevision and former subsidiaries MSG and AMC Networks.

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Aug 21 2014

Roland C. Smith, CEO of Office Depot

Roland C. Smith is the chairman and CEO of Office Depot, a leading global provider of workplace products and services. A seasoned senior executive, Smith has served as the president and CEO and on the boards of various public and private companies. His expertise includes increasing operating profit, directing corporate turnarounds, and overseeing integrations.

Most recently, Smith was the president and CEO of Delhaize America. He has also served as the president and CEO of The Wendy’s Company, the CEO of Triarc Companies, the president and CEO of American Golf Corporation, and the president and CEO of AMF Bowling Worldwide.

Aside from his roles at Office Depot, Smith is a director of The Wendy’s Company and chairs the board of directors and compensation and nominating committee of Carmike Cameras. He is also a member of the World Presidents’ Organization International and a national trustee of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Smith graduated from the US Military Academy and served in the US Army for seven years.

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Aug 19 2014

Pamela O’Hara, Mom and Tech Startup CEO

Pamela O’Hara is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Batchbook, a cloud-based CRM for small businesses. As CEO, she oversees the company’s product strategy and overall direction. As a mother and entrepreneur, O’Hara is no stranger to balance – she is committed to running a company that can cater to the needs of both its employees and customers. In addition to leading Batchbook, she serves as the head of the Geeks for Good food pantry drives, a mentor for the Betaspring startup accelerator program, and the chairwoman of The Small Business Web, the global trade association of cloud software for small businesses. The Small Business Web began with 5 founding companies in 2009 and now has more than 250 members.

O’Hara frequently shares her entrepreneurial experiences and data management expertise at conferences. She has presented at SXSWi, Jeff Pulver’s 140conference London, and The Web Innovators Group’s WebInno23, among others. Moreover, she has served as a judge at Brown University Entrepreneurship Program’s Startup Competition and Rhode Island Business Plan Competition’s Elevator Pitch Contest.

O’Hara began her web career in 1994 by designing websites and managing online communications for the Food Marketing Institute and Congressman Jim Clyburn. Prior to Batchbook, she co-founded and handled operations at Matrix Group International, a web development firm serving trade associations.

O’Hara was named one of Providence Business News’ “40 Under Forty” in 2010 and one of Small Business Trends and Small Biz Technology’s “Small Business Influencer Champions” in 2011. Batchbook, which was named a “Rising Star” by CRM Magazine in 2010, has been featured in numerous media outlets including the Intuit Small Business Blog, The Providence Phoenix, The New York Times, Business Insider, American Express Open Forum, and CNBC.

A resident of Rhode Island, O’Hara graduated from the University of Richmond with dual degrees in English and history.

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Aug 15 2014

Adam M. Zeitsiff, President of Jonas Fitness

Adam M. Zeitsiff is the president of Jonas Fitness, the leader in gym management software. He also serves as the business unit manager of its parent company Jonas Software’s North American fitness/sports division.

Zeitsiff has nearly 20 years of experience in starting, running, and growing technology and cloud-based software companies in various niche markets. As president of Jonas Fitness, he is responsible for growing the company’s global footprint in the sports and fitness segments. With a passion for expanding Jonas Fitness’ products and services, Zeitsiff concentrates on increasing the company’s overall marketing presence, collaborating with the production development teams, ensuring the delivery of outstanding customer service, and more.

When he is not at Jonas Fitness and Jonas Software, Zeitsiff can be found serving on the board of the Long Island Elite, coaching an Amateur Athletic Union girls’ basketball team, rescuing and fostering stray dogs in the New York area, and volunteering at local animal charities and shelters.

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Aug 13 2014

EMC’s Joe Tucci, One of the World’s Best CEOs

Joe Tucci is the chairman and CEO of EMC Corporation, a leading provider of cloud computing, big data, and IT solutions headquartered in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. Tucci joined the company in 2000 as president and COO and was named CEO the following year and chairman of the board of directors in 2006.

Under Tucci’s direction, EMC transformed its business model from a near-exclusive focus on high-end storage platforms. Today, the company helps IT departments around the world transition to cloud computing and store their data in a more agile and cost-efficient way.

As EMC’s chairman and CEO, Tucci has led the company’s investment of $17 billion in strategic acquisitions to fill out its product portfolio, expand its addressable market opportunity, and enter new market segments. He widened EMC’s marketplace to commercial businesses and SMEs; established new selling, distribution, and partnership channels; grew the company’s industry alliances; and strengthened its management team by bringing in executives from other major tech companies. In 2011, Tucci supervised the most aggressive new product introduction cycle in the history of EMC; Barron’s acknowledged his leadership by naming him one of the “World’s Best CEOs.” He received the honor again the following year.

Tucci is one of 9 chief executives who lead The Technology CEO Council and one of the 150 CEO members of The Business Roundtable. He also sits on the board of directors of Paychex, the board of overseers of Columbia Business School, the board of trustees of Northeastern University, and the board of advisors of the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, among others.

Tucci earned a bachelor’s degree from Manhattan College and a master’s degree in business policy from Columbia University. He started his career as a systems programmer at RCA Corporation and subsequently fulfilled executive roles at Unisys Corporation and Wang Global.

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Aug 01 2014

Jessica Granatiero, Wine-Loving Entrepreneur

Jessica Granatiero is the co-founder of The Savory Grape, one of the premier wine shops in Rhode Island. She and partner Nino started The Savory Grape to shares their knowledge and passion for wine with others. Granatiero brings her wine experiences from her travels into the boutique shop, which has been recognized by Wine Spectator, the Wall Street Journal, RI Monthly Magazine, Providence Business News, and Providence Journal.

Granatiero is also an experienced event designer, having created events of all sizes including The Savory Grape’s own 300-attendee fundraising event. She has been named to Providence Business News’ “Top 40 Under 40” list, which honors the region’s most successful people under age 40.

Before opening The Savory Grape in 2006, Granatiero held positions at Hill & Knowlton Strategies and Feinstein Kean Healthcare, assisting clients with public relation and communication campaigns and events.

When she is not at The Savory Grape, Granatiero is likely traveling to vineyards or taking care of her daughter.

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Jul 30 2014

Ralph Izzo, Chairman and CEO of PSEG

Well-known utility industry leader Ralph Izzo is the chairman and chief executive officer of Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG), one of America’s largest electric companies. Prior to being elected to his current position in 2007, he served as PSEG’s president, chief operating officer, and board member for six months. Previously, he was the president and COO of PSEG subsidiary Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G).

Izzo joined PSE&G in 1992 and went on to hold various executive positions with PSEG’s family of companies. His past roles include PSE&G vice president – appliance service, PSE&G senior vice president – utility operations, PSE&G vice president – electric ventures, and PSEG vice president – corporate planning. In fulfilling these roles, he acquired experience in general management, finance, and strategic planning.

Izzo began his career as a research scientist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, where he carried out numerical simulations of fusion energy experiments. He has published or presented more than 35 papers on magnetohydrodynamic modeling.

Today, he is often asked to testify before Congress and speak to organizations on topics concerning national energy policy. Izzo chairs the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and serves on the Rutgers University Board of Governors and the boards of the Edison Electric Institute, the New Jersey Utilities Association, and the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, among other organizations. He is also a member of the Visiting Committee for the Department of Nuclear Engineering at MIT, the Columbia University School of Engineering Board of Visitors, and the Princeton University Adlinger Center for Energy and the Environment Advisory Council.

Izzo holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering and a doctorate in applied physics from Columbia University. He obtained an MBA with a concentration in finance from the Rutgers Graduate School of Management as well.

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Jul 26 2014

Susan Chalmers-Gauvin, CEO of Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada

Susan Chalmers-Gauvin is the founder and chief executive officer of Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada. With more than two decades of management and consulting experience in the non-profit sector, she brings her expertise in organizational development and evaluation to the company. She oversees the company’s business, strategic, and financial development and has worked to position Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada in global markets.

In addition to leading Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada, Chalmers-Gauvin serves on the boards of Enterprise Greater Moncton, Artslink New Brunswick, and the Ron Joyce Centre for Business Studies at Mount Allison University. She is also the chair of the NB Culture Days Task Force.

Winner of the Greater Moncton YWCA Woman of Excellence Award, Chalmers-Gauvin is a frequent guest speaker and lecturer on the topics of performing arts management; the importance of Canadian arts and culture to the municipal, regional, and national economies; and the role of arts in enriching the quality of life in communities.

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Jul 23 2014

Patrick Speijers: Customer Service Veteran Helps Online Stores Improve Quality of Service

Patrick Speijers is an avid online shopper with a shoe addiction. He has encountered lousy service from web stores throughout his numerous online shopping experiences, and there’s nothing he hates more than bad service. Speijers, who has been in the customer service industry for most of his career, decided to create a solution instead of complaining about it.

He began talking to some colleagues and they realized that conventional ticketing systems weren’t effective. Online retailers needed an all-in-one solution that was affordable, easy to set up, and fun to use. This solution had be more of an assistant or a sidekick to online stores.

Founded in 2011 and publicly launched in 2012 at the TNW Conference, Robin is named after Batman’s sidekick and the clever and agile little bird. Robin helps online retailers serve their customers better by streamlining a business’ entire customer service communication flow. Online shoppers communicate with the business using any channel they want – e.g., email, Twitter, live chat, web form – and the web store team manages and responds to everything from one central dashboard.

With Robin, online retailers need only one screen to handle all their customer conversations. Robin integrates with leading e-commerce platforms and displays order and client information right next to the customer’s question, saving staff members time and improving the quality of service they provide.

Now in his 17th year in customer service, Speijers currently serves as Robin’s CEO. His focus is delivering happiness to his team, customers, and shareholders. To this end, he and his team use Robin within their own company.

“Our customer service strategy is super important to grow. Especially as a customer service software company,” he says. “Good customer service enables you to learn super fast what to improve, but also it brings you in the position to go the extra mile.”

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