Alumni Alley | Haworth College of Business | Western Michigan University



Alumni Alley

There's a story here
Antonio Neves, BBA '99

Who is Antonio Neves? He is an award-winning journalist who has had notable success as a correspondent, anchor, television host, producer and writer, and he is a graduate of the Haworth College of Business. But perhaps most importantly, Neves is a self-proclaimed “Everyday Joe,” hailing from Jackson, Mich., the first in his immediate family to earn a four-year degree. It is his status as an “Everyday Joe” that informs his journalism, “We all have a story to tell, and we are all everyday Joes,” he says.

The world opened up for Neves while he was studying at WMU. In 1997, he interned at Walt Disney World. “Before that internship, I thought that the biggest my world would get would be having a good job in Detroit or Chicago. Through my internship experience at Disney, meeting college students from all over the country and the world, I realized that my world could be bigger if I wanted it to be,” he says.

When Neves returned from his internship, he was on fire to explore, heady with the revelation that he had very real control over where his life was going. He decided to study abroad, vowing to make it happen no matter what it would take. Eventually he met with then WMU University President Diether Haenicke and asked for guidance on how to fund his study abroad experience. Haenicke, a long-time advocate of study abroad programs, said that he could help Neves but that he must go to a non-English speaking country and truly immerse himself in not only a new culture but also a new language. Neves chose Seville, Spain, for a semester-long study abroad experience.

After a year in sales at Kraft Foods in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which Neves still cites as his best training for being a journalist in terms of interacting with many personalities and servicing stores in a variety of diverse neighborhoods, he moved to New York City. “I had the typical New York story. I came to the city with $700 in my pocket and slept on three couch cushions on my buddy’s floor while I put together temp jobs and other things.”

It was one of those temp jobs that led to Neves’s foray into the television industry. Working a six-month temporary job at Viacom in Purchasing and Facilities, he was able to utilize the common cafeteria, shared by Viacom, MTV Networks and Paramount, for networking. Bringing business cards that he had designed and printed himself with him to lunch, he began making connections. His efforts paid off when he interviewed for and was hired to be the executive assistant to the vice president of programming at Nickelodeon. “I knocked on a lot of doors to get there. They could see that I was hungry.” And “hungry” he was; Neves took the initiative in his new position, offering to work on media planning and program scheduling. “I always asked, what can I do?,” he states. On his vacations, he would gain permission from Nickelodeon executives to travel to the television sets of different Nickelodeon shows to volunteer his services behind the camera. As Neves sought more and more responsibility, he became the co-host of “U-Pick Live” on Nickelodeon and worked as a producer and writer for the network.

What’s next?

  • Developing his newly launched company THINQACTION, which provides personal advising/coaching and group workshops for “twenty-somethings” in the media industry
  • Traveling the country filming the third season as correspondent of MSN’s Cool Runnings
  • Reporting stories as correspondent for PBS & MacNeil/Lehrer’s the.News
  • Speaking to student-athlete groups about his new book “Student Athlete 101”

Fun Fact: Neves was an all-MAC triple jumper on WMU’s track and field team and a member of two MAC Conference Championship teams.

After stints working for various companies and living in Los Angeles, Neves earned a master’s in journalism from Columbia University. He found that his WMU degree and experiences with professors Ed Mayo, Zahir Quraeshi, and Mushtaq Luqmani prepared him well for the critical thinking and attention to critical issues that are the hallmarks of good journalism, and after Columbia, Neves began his career as a journalist in full force. His recent on-camera credits include correspondent for MSN’s “Cool Runnings,” MacNeil/Lehrer’s “the.News,” and PBS’s “By the People” as well as anchor for “Advertising Age” and hosting “” His on-air career has had a heavy emphasis on business-related journalism. In addition, Neves has had several successes as a producer, including BET’s “Heart of the City: Chicago’s War on Violence,” a documentary on Chicago’s war on gun violence and “The Obama Effect,” a series of interviews with African Americans across the generations, reflecting on the historic election of President Barack Obama.

Holding a degree in marketing and having a thorough understanding of business practices has been one of the keys to Neves success, particularly in “Cool Runnings,” a show that targets entrepreneurs by showing businesses that have reached the “tipping point” and are taking their business to the next level and in “Advertising Age,” a program which highlights news in advertising and discusses current practices of industry leaders and innovators. “The reason that I was hired for these programs was that I had a diverse background. They wanted someone who could go head-to-head with high-powered CEOs but see them as people too. I have a passion for business. I think that a big part of my success is that I can speak the language of business and truly understand it in significant yet practical ways. That knowledge has helped me immensely in my career, and my foundation came from the Haworth College of Business,” he states.

How does Neves account for his success? “I think that my greatest secrets for success are that I am always prepared. I am never caught off guard. Also, I am never ‘comfortable.’ I am always striving to learn more and do more. Finally, I just like people. I love getting to know people and asking them questions out of genuine interest. And those things were all modeled for me at Western, from my professors and track coaches to other students to the president of the University,” he says. And he certainly does strive to do more. His latest project is a book titled “Student Athlete 101,” which serves as a guide to help student athletes get the most out of their university experience, academically, socially, and on the field.

He notes, “Whenever people ask me where I graduated from, I say Western Michigan University with pride. Western gave me my start, and I owe so much to the Haworth College of Business and WMU.”

Antonio Neves is an “Everyday Joe,” finding stories that resonate with people and writing his own extraordinary story along the way.


The adventure of venture
Kevin McQuillan, BBA '78

Kevin McQuillan is the co-founder and general partner of Focus Ventures, a venture capital firm, located in Palo Alto, Calif., that offers financing for communications, Internet and software companies that have completed product development and are seeking additional capital to boost sales and marketing efforts. The company seeking funding must illustrate “proprietary technology, a rapidly growing market, a strong management team, market leadership, demonstrated market acceptance, and previous backing from top-tier venture capital firm(s).”

Focus Ventures is aptly named. The firm is extremely focused as is McQuillan, who not only holds his BBA in finance from WMU but also a JD from Thomas Cooley Law School and an MBA from Golden Gate University. He has been listed on Forbes Magazine’s Midas list as a top technology investor for four of the past five years. In 2009, he was ranked 41st on the Midas list, and in 2008, he was ranked 36th. McQuillan’s focus is on investments in the software, semiconductor, Internet and communications markets.

He led the firm’s investments in such companies as Active Software (WebMethods), Agile Software (Oracle), Alteon Websystems (Nortel), Aruba Networks, Commerce One, Com21, Copper Mountain, Pixelworks, Vina and Virtusa, all of which became public companies. In addition, Centrality was acquired by SiRF, DATAllegro was acquired by Microsoft, edocs was acquired by Siebel Systems, Kazeon was acquired by EMC and Orchestria was acquired by CA, all projects that McQuillan managed. Additional investments under his management include Cedar Point, Data Robotics, Delivery Agent, Fanfare, Financial Engines, Kace, LogLogic, Panasas, Ruckus Wireless and Sepaton.

His experience in the Haworth College of Business prepared him well for a career spent taking calculated risks and providing return on investments. He fondly remembers a finance class where he and fellow students learned to manage a bank through a simulation exercise. These sorts of practical illustrations of financial principles piqued his interest in financial management and investments. Today, he is giving back to Western by serving as a WMU Foundation Investment Committee member.

McQuillan’s focus has yielded an interesting professional life. His proudest accomplishment to date? “Being an investor in a company that increased shareholder value from $100 million to $3.5 billion in less than two years,” McQullian says. And his career path has afforded great opportunities to meet other venture capitalists. When asked to name the most interesting or influential person he has met in his work life, McQuillan responds, “John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. He has been very successful by investing in such startup companies as Sun Microsystems, Amazon, Yahoo and Google, among others.”

McQuillan enjoys his work and the possibility of helping finance the next wave of influential businesses, which provide technological advancement and job creation as they gain more exposure and a firmer footing in the marketplace. McQuillan loves making the “adventure of venture,” his daily focus.

Building a brand, Debarati Bhattacherjee, BBA '08

She is an avid magazine reader, keeping her choices eclectic with subscriptions to Ad Age, Time, Newsweek and Vogue. She watches "Grey's Anatomy," "Entourage," "24," and (yes) "Gossip Girl." And she is helping Gallup Consulting with marketing strategies to set the Gallup brand apart from other firms such as Mercer, Boston Consulting Group and Hewitt in India.
Debarati Bhattacherjee, BBA '08, is spearheading a string of brand-building initiatives for Gallup such as knowledge-sharing events, client-speak events, social media/viral marketing, blogs and webinars. The last few months of her job have seen Bhattacherjee catering to a new target segment—Fortune 500 leadership teams in India. She has gone from "consumer-centricity survey mode" to taking survey data and practically applying it to the events, activities and campaigns that she plans to roll out on her marketing calendar.
Frequently interacting with the leadership teams of Fortune 500 companies, she uses professor Zahir Quraeshi's illustrations from her classes with him as conversation starters. She notes that professors Ron Larson, Devrim Yaman and Jim DeMello have also had a significant impact on her. "I feel grateful for all those times that I dragged myself through thick layers of snow to get to class because every class, every discussion and every assignment had something to offer in terms of learning experience. The Haworth College of Business really preps you the right way for the real world. The class projects give you the opportunity to put yourself in the marketer's shoes and sometimes even allow for consumer or client interaction," she notes.

The are of Mind Capture
Q&A with Tony Rubleski, BBA '94

Name: Tony Rubleski
Class Year: BBA 1994
Employer: Mind Capture Group (founded in 2005)
Title: President and #1 Bestselling Author
Years in this Position: 5

Please provide a brief outline of how you got from graduation to where you are today.

I started in door-to-door sales selling phone service while a student at WMU. I stayed in the business for nine years, ending up with a regional phone company. I left to become a vice president of sales at a local ad agency for three years and released the first Mind Capture book in 2004. Then, I started Mind Capture Group in early 2005 and currently speak around the country on marketing, sales and motivation-related topics.

How did your academic experience in the College of Business help you in your career?

A couple of key things come to mind. One, I learned that follow up and hitting deadlines are the major keys to success, especially in business. The real world is fast-paced, and you have to be able to manage many things and make decisions quickly.
Second, I had a couple of brilliant marketing professors who taught me how to go beyond thinking strategically when it comes to marketing and promotion, pushing me to raise my game even as a 21-year-old college senior.

What is something that you learned in a class through the College of Business that you use routinely in your job today?

The main thing is creativity. You must continue to upgrade your skills and think of new and unique ways to engage and get people to listen to what you are trying to market. In the digital age, this challenge has only intensified.

What is the most interesting experience that you have had in your career thus far?

Speaking with some of my business heroes at a conference and having many of them call me a “peer” was a strange experience for me at first, but I’ve realized in the last couple of years that hard work and a good message coupled with self-work and self-reflection really makes the difference.

How do you support the College of Business and WMU? How do you encourage others to do so as well?

Well, now that Sallie Mae has been paid off for a few years, and I have no delinquent parking tickets (ha,ha!), I like to give back by sharing marketing and career advice with an occasional talk on campus at the Haworth College of Business. When I’m introduced at many speaking events, WMU is proudly mentioned in my bio before I grab the microphone. Since I speak across the country and Canada, this is a way to promote the University.

How do you spend your free time?

My wife Kim and I have three children who keep us very busy with activities. I’m an avid reader, hockey fan (go Wings!), and enjoy softball.

What do you see as the biggest challenge in today’s businesses/or in today’s business world?

The battle for what I call “Mind Capture” is so important. How do you get anyone to pay attention to you in a world that’s buried in choice, messages and short attention spans? My series of books confronts and discusses why this is getting harder and harder to accomplish and how to effectively address these concerns. The challenging economy has made it more important than ever to reach your base, particularly in states like Michigan (which I still proudly call home) where the economy has been hit hardest.

Getting and keeping customers is the challenge. Many businesses take their customers’ business for granted and do not do enough to follow up with them.

Your third book “Mind Capture: How to Awaken Your Entrepreneurial Genius in a Time of Great Economic Change” changes gears from your past books. Why?

I’m going into the motivation sector for one central reason – fear is still putting a choke hold on the economy. People are allowing a very negative media and political environment scare them from pursuing their passion and ideas. What a shame! I believe we have a major crisis of economic confidence. As I travel, I run across a lot of people at my keynotes and seminars that are frankly sick of the recession and ready to move forward and into recovery. This book focuses on how people can remedy the crisis of confidence and have a grassroots effect on their local economies that will rise up to affect the economy at large.

50-State Challenge

Show your WMU pride with a vanity plate in any state! Do you have a license plate that is WMU-inspired? Are you thinking about getting one? Send us a photo of your plate and receive an item of Haworth College of Business gear and the possibility of your photo being used in future promotions. Go Broncos!

Attention Michiganders:
Did you know that Michigan has issued a new license plate for Western Michigan University featuring the traditional block "W" that has served as a symbol of Western since its founding? Visit for more details. (Note: WMU 1 is already taken by President John M. Dunn.)

Dr. Frank Gambino, professor of marketing and director of the Food & Consumer Package Goods Marketing Program, sports a plate related to the program.

Sara (Papke) Troup, BBA '03, and Dan Troup, BBA '02, show off their Haworth College of Business and WMU plates.

Dr. Robert Landeros, chair of the Department of Management, denotes his academic interest in Integrated Supply Management with his license plate. Landeros was one of the founding faculty members involved in launching WMU's ISM program.

A true chief "operating" officer, Keith Valentine, BBA '90

Keith Valentine, BBA ’90, arrived at Western in the middle of his sophomore year because academic advisors at WMU did not dissuade him from attempting both the business and premed curricula simultaneously, “The advisors were really helpful and made the decision to transfer easy when they designed a plan that included both courses of study.”

Valentine’s first business class was with Dr. Tom Carey. “I was hooked. Dr. Carey did such a good job of taking principles to practicality.” Valentine notes that he still uses the skills that he learned in the Haworth College of Business today as president and chief operating officer of NuVasive, Inc., a company that provides surgical implants for minimally disruptive spinal surgery.

NuVasive manufactures implants made of titanium and “space-age” plastic that promote bone fusion and faster healing. When compared with traditional back surgery, which requires hospital stays of three to five days and recovery of up to six months, NuVasive’s technology allows patients to leave the hospital after only one to two days with a full recovery for most patients within six to eight weeks and with reduced blood loss during surgery.

Behind every high-quality product is a great team. Valentine speaks to finding the right people as key to the company’s success, “We ask people in interviews if they feel lucky. We embrace an ‘attitude of gratitude’ in our company. We all have a level of fortune, but do you take advantage of it or just ride over it and say, 'I earned that.' We make gratitude a part of our corporate culture.”

"NuVasive has always maintained a high standard of training for surgeons who use its products and also requires hands-on involvement from its staff."
— Keith Valentine

Valentine emphasizes that having the right team in place that respects each other, works together and does not micromanage each other is of paramount importance. “When I first decided to come to NuVasive I had seen growth and participated in growth but I, honestly, underestimated the challenge of a startup. Things like securing funding for the company, starting to sell from zero and making payroll in hard times were new to me. In spite of our startup learning curve, the people around the table supported the company’s efforts, and we have a contagious culture, which has allowed our company to grow and be resilient in meeting challenges. Our culture is focused on outstanding performance.”

Valentine can be called a true chief “operating” officer, as he spends time in operating rooms with doctors who use NuVasive implants to do procedures. “It is essential,” he says. NuVasive has always maintained a high standard of training for surgeons who use its products and also requires hands-on involvement from staff. “We all could take some lessons from the reality program “Undercover Boss.” Managers need to know what affects their staff, and in our case, we need to be in the operating rooms seeing the procedures being done.”

Valentine notes that it has been a joy to see the company grow and evolve, “We now have a charitable foundation, and through it, we are able to provide our implants for surgeries in Africa. To see a Maasai man, who was paraplegic, walk again through our collaborative efforts is amazing and very moving and reminds us that we can and do change the quality of people’s lives.”


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