Distinguished alumni: Leaders, benefactors, civic activists

  • April 9, 2018
  • By Guest Blogger
  • 5 minute read

Olin Business School will honor these distinguished alumni at a dinner on April 12 and with a symposium that morning. They’re innovators, corporate leaders, and benefactors.

For more than 30 years, Olin Business School has recognized and presented Distinguished Alumni Awards honoring alumni who have attained distinction in their careers. Those being honored share the characteristics of leadership: progressive thinking, high standards, uncompromising integrity, commitment, courage, and confidence. Their careers serve as models for all Washington University students and alumni.

They are recognized at a gala dinner celebration with family and friends, as well as past recipients, staff, and faculty of the business school.

Zack Boyers, MBA 2001

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp., St. Louis

Zack Boyers settled long ago into his professional home at US Bank, where for two dozen years he worked in affordable housing, economic development, renewable energy, commercial banking, structured finance, and direct and fund investments in the tax credit equity industry.

Today, from his top spot at U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp., Boyers provides leadership and strategic direction to a team of more than 400 people who manage tax credit and lending opportunities in the community development arena nationwide. More than $30 billion in commitments, distributed across every state in the country, is under the purview of Boyers and his team.

Boyers, who holds a BA with academic honors from Harvard University and an MBA from Olin Business School, currently serves on the boards of the St. Louis Regional Chamber, board chair at Crossroads College Preparatory School, board co-chair at Forward Through Ferguson, Invest STL.

Boyers is a former board member of Beyond Housing, the National Equity Fund, and the St. Louis Public Library as well as founding director of Arch Grants. He was a founding member of the Alliance for Economic Development as well as a member of the National Housing & Rehabilitation Association’s New Markets Tax Credit Council and the New Markets Tax Credit Coalition.

Boyers lives in downtown St. Louis with his wife, Rachel, and their two children.

Shirley Cunningham, MBA 2008

Executive Vice President, Ag Business and Enterprise Strategy, CHS Inc., Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota

Shirley Cunningham is executive vice president, Ag Business and Enterprise Strategy, for CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains, and foods company. CHS supplies energy, crop nutrients, grain marketing services, animal feed, food, and food ingredients, along with business solutions, including insurance, financial, and risk-management services.

Cunningham joined CHS as executive vice president, Enterprise Strategy, in April 2013 before expanding her role in 2014. She leads the company’s aligned Ag Business platform, consisting of its International and North America Grain Marketing and Agronomy operations. She is also responsible for CHS Enterprise Strategy functions, including information technology, marketing communications, and planning and strategy.

Prior to joining CHS, Cunningham was the chief information officer for Monsanto Company, where her responsibilities included information technology and business management, including leading global IT operations, acquisitions, IT research and development, strategic planning, and enterprise initiatives.

In addition to her broad business expertise, Cunningham has extensive global experience, having led Monsanto’s Europe, Middle East, and Africa IT operations. She also held leadership positions with several companies in the United Kingdom.

Cunningham currently serves on the boards of Ventura Foods, LLC, Brea, California; Kemira Oyj, Helsinki, Finland; and Gildan, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

She lives in Minnesota with her husband Mike and has family back in Scotland. She frequently gets back to Scotland to visit her son Michael, daughter-in-law Linda and her four year old Grandson Ben.

Munir Mashooqullah, MBA 1998

Founder & Custodian, Synergies Worldwide, Thailand

When Munir Mashooqullah earned an MBA from Olin Business School in 1998, Synergies Worldwide, the textile and apparel quality assurance company he founded in 1987, was well on its way to becoming a global leader in apparel sourcing and supply chain management. Today, Synergies is among the top 10 global sourcing companies and counts Inditex Spain (owners of Zara, Breshka and others), Kik Germany, SOK Finland, and Oved 5 Star USA among its more than 75 global brands.

Mashooqullah began work in the textile industry in Pakistan in 1980 and became general manager of a vertical apparel manufacturing plant in 1983. Four years later, he founded Synergies in collaboration with Sunberg International France, establishing offices in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. In January 2016, after 28 years at the helm, Mashooqullah turned over the company to a new leader, assuming the chairmanship.

He is co-founder and the chairman of Hertzman Media and is on the board or an adviser to various textile fibre, design, and food companies in Bangladesh, China, Pakistan and the EU. The founding trustee of the Institute of Business Management in Karachi, Pakistan, Mashooqullah was named to the Asian American Business Development Center’s 2010 list of 50 Outstanding Asian Americans in Business.

Mashooqullah is actively involved with the Asia Society and an active member of YPO International and CEO.org. He is deeply involved in computer literacy in Pakistan and poverty alleviation in villages in Bangladesh. He resides between Pakistan and UAE with his wife, Dr. Zeelaf Munir, and his three sons who reside in the region.

Richard Ritholz, BSBA 1984

Partner, Senior Portfolio Manager, and Head of Global Commodities Trading, Elliott Management Corporation, New York City

Richard Ritholz leads a team at Elliot Management Corporation that trades energy, metals, agricultural commodities, and soft commodities in the firm’s New York, London, and Hong Kong offices. Since his arrival in 2005, assets under the firm’s management increased from $4 billion to $35 billion, making Elliott one of the largest global commodity firms.

After earning a bachelor’s degree from Olin Business School in 1984, Ritholz went on to earn a master’s degree in business from Columbia University. His first job was with Mobil Oil Corporation, where his positions included head of European natural gas trading, based in The Hague, Netherlands. Ritholz left Mobil in 1998 to start JMR Energy Inc., an energy commodity trading adviser to institutional accounts and high-net- worth individuals.

Ritholz and his wife, Linda, are longtime supporters of Washington University. The couple established the Richard and Linda Ritholz Scholarship at the university, and they host an annual dinner for WashU’s basketball teams when they travel to New York. Ritholz also serves on Olin Business School’s Advisory Board as well as on the North Jersey Regional Council, of which he is co-chair. The Ritholz family also supports The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and The Comfort 360 Project at New Jersey’s St. Barnabas Hospital, among other organizations. Ritholz is a board member on the finance committee at Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange, New Jersey.

Richard and Linda Ritholz reside in Short Hills, New Jersey, with their two children.

Pictured: Zack Boyers, MBA 2001 (top left); Shirley Cunningham, MBA 2008 (top right); Munir Mashooqullah, MBA 1998 (bottom left); Richard Ritholz, BSBA 1984 (bottom right)

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