John Garrett, Owen Smith, and James Brogan by: Jim Beatty
(left to right) John Garrett (’98), Owen Smith (’95) and James Brogan (’70)
How did the Laughing Irish get to be so funny? Their fields of study can probably be ruled out: accountancy, finance and sociology aren’t exactly notorious breeding grounds for belly laughs. It could be these three men were just born funny. As anyone who attended their jam-packed performance on campus last September will attest: these guys are funny. Very funny.
Laughing Irish founder John Garrett (’98) balances a thriving career in comedy with a full-time job as a Senior Financial Analyst for Clarion Health Partners in Indianapolis. “I work eight a.m. to five p.m., drive to a show a few hours away, perform the show and come home around midnight or one a.m.,”he says. “Then I wake up at seven a.m. and go to work. It’s crazy, it’s absolutely crazy.”
Owen Smith’s (’95) comedy career began with open-mike competitions when he was 19. After graduation, he moved to Chicago where he took a job with Prudential Preferred Financial Services. “I was a financial planner by day and a comedian at night,”said Smith. “I didn’t get any sleep.”Eventually Smith decided to leave Prudential to devote himself completely to his comedy career, often touring 48 weeks a year. After moving to Los Angeles , he appeared on Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend,”NBC’s “Friday Night,”and CBS’s “Star Search.”
James Brogan (’70), who majored in sociology at ND, is the most established performer of the trio. He’s been a full-time comedian since 1975. Though he began his professional life in politics, it wasn’t long before he changed gears to become a full-time comic. Says Brogan: “I thought to myself: how can I earn less money and annoy my parents even more? Comedy!”Brogan eventually attracted the attention of legendary manager Jack Rollins, whose clients at the time included Woody Allen, Dick Cavett and Robert Klein. Brogan went on to host a variety of TV shows including Showtime’s “Laffathon”and “Comic Strip Live”on the Fox TV network. He performed on both “The Tonight Show”and “Late Night with David Letterman,”eventually becoming head writer for “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,”a job he held for nine years. These days Brogan is a sought-after comedy writer. So far, he’s written a sitcom and two movies, including one called “I Was A Teenage Freshman”about life at Notre Dame.
So what, in the end, is the reason the Laughing Irish are so darned funny? The best explanation may well be practice, practice, practice. OK...so, an accountant, a sociologist and a financier walk into a bar.
Robert Silveri by: Jim Beatty
(left to right) Former FBI Director Louis Freeh and Robert Silveri (MBA ’93)
What motivates a mild-mannered accountant to abandon a lucrative career in order to join the FBI? Ask Special Agent Robert Silveri (MBA ’93) and he’ll likely tell you that white collar crime has gotten so complex in the last ten years, the FBI needs highly trained accountants and lawyers.
Among other things, Silveri investigates environmental crimes, fraud and corporate bid rigging violations. He works in the New York City branch of the FBI and lives in Manhattan.
His squad investigates money laundering, identity theft and credit card fraud. They are targeting what the FBI calls “criminal enterprise groups,”including terrorist organizations seeking to finance future terrorist acts.
Chasing down terrorists is not the usual career path for a mild- mannered accountant who began his career auditing tax returns.
After receiving an MBA degree from Notre Dame in 1993, Silveri worked as a senior tax accountant at the now-defunct Arthur Andersen. Four years into his stint at Andersen, however, something changed for Silveri.
“It got to a point at Arthur Andersen where I was up for a promotion to manager, but I wasn’t excited about it,”said Silveri.
Enter a friend of Silveri’s who had just accepted a job offer from the FBI. He convinced Silveri to submit an application. Eighteen months later, following a series of background checks and interviews, Silveri was offered a job as a Special Agent with the white-collar crime squad. “Working for the FBI gave me a chance to make a difference, as corny as that may sound,”Silveri said.
The timing also couldn’t have been better. With violent crimes decreasing and white collar crime on the rise, the FBI needs highly trained recruits like Silveri to pursue increasingly sophisticated criminals.
Silveri looks back fondly on his former accounting career. “I would never knock it; accounting really trained me. But this is different. It’s proactive; not reactive. By doing these investigations, I could be preventing something like the September 11th terrorist attacks from happening again.”
“I feel like I’m making a difference for our country,”said Silveri.
Meloney Moore by Jim Beatty
(left to right) David Reinke ('94) and Meloney Moore ('02) in the Manhattan offices of Liz Claiborne.
What do New York City, Liz Claiborne and Notre Dame all have in common? If you said Liz Claiborne CEO and '64 ND alumnus Paul Charron, you'd only be partly right, for there is, in fact, another promising, highly motivated ND gad at Liz Claiborne - Meloney Moore ('01).
Moore has been with Liz Claiborne since she completed a 16-month training program with students from top schools throughout the country. When the training program ended, Liz Claiborne created a position for Moore. She works in the Special Markets division, where she is responsible for supplying products to mass market sales channels like JC Penney, Sears and Wal-Mart. Her supervisor during one of her rotations was David Reinke ('94) and the two remain friends.
And why Liz Claiborne? "Liz Claiborne is big. We produce everything from fashion to housewares," Moore said. "Instead of going to Proctor & Gamble like a typical Notre Dame grad might, I went to the Proctor & Gamble of the fashion industry." After Moore receives her MBA degree, which she says is her next step, she has big things planned for her career in the fashion industry.
Taxi! The corner of Fashion and Success, please.
Scott C. Malpass
Scott C. Malpass ('84, MBA '86), vice president and chief investment officer at the University of Notre Dame, has been selected a regional winner of the 2003 Financial Executive of the Year Award by Robert Half International Inc. and the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA).
Malpass returned to Notre Dame in 1988 after a stint at Wall Street firm Irving Trust Company. One year after returning to campus, he was appointed chief investment officer, when the University's endowment was $450 million. Now valued at more than $2.6 billion, the endowment is the 19th largest in American higher education and the largest at a Catholic universtiy. Under his leadership, Notre Dame's endowment management program has earned national recognition, with Malpass playing a key role in developing innovative practices in investment management. For fiscal year 2000, the investment return was 58 percent, ranking first among higher education endowments in the country.
Malpass took on added duties as associate vice president for finance in 1996, with responsibility for all other financial management activities of the University. He was elected a vice president by the Board of Trustees in 1999.
As evidence of the University's financial strength and stability, Notre Dame is among a handful of large, private universities with a long-term debt rating from Moody's Investors Service of Aaa.
Born to run...a business, that is. "I was the kid who always had an ice cream or lemonade stand," says Michael Kohlsdorf (MBA '79). "I'd shovel driveways. I had a lawn mowing business. In college, I ran painting, snowplowing, and landscaping businesses."
Fast forward to 1979. With a Notre Dame MBA degree under his belt, Kohlsdorf did something rather unusual for a born entrepreneur. He took a job with a Fortune 500 company - IBM. But seven years and eight promotions later, Kohlsdorf became frustrated with the size and bureaucracy of IBM. A number of CFO positions for small software companies came next. Then Atlanta's TR Systems named him president and CEO. It took Kohlsdorf just four years to transform TR Systems from a 15-person operation to a $20 million 80-employee company, which garnered him a nomination for the 2001 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
TR Systems was recently sold to Electronics for Imaging. He was asked to stay on but Kohlsdorf accepted a position as Vice President of Professional Services for Ikon, a $4.5 billion document management company. In this newly created positon Kohlsdorf oversees new document management products and services-acting essentially as an in-house entrepreneur. Says Kohlsdorf, "I love dealing with the myriad of issues I face everyday at Ikon associated with building a business - market forces, partners, vendors and customers. I really enjoy the challenge."
Ted Phillips by Jennifer Lyng
Ted Phillips (ND '79) has what many American football fans would consider a dream job - president and CEO of the NFL's Chicago Bears.
When the owners of the Bears named him president in 1999, Phillips became only the fourth president in the Bears' 83-year history. Trained as an accountant, Phillips worked his way to the top of the Bears' management team after Ernst & Young assigned him to the Bears account.
His latest accomplishment - managing the renovation of Chicago's Soldier Field - tested Phillips' leadership and negotiating skills. Controversial because Soldier Field is a historic landmark, the project involved many heated discussions with state and local politicians. Proud of the newly-remodeled stadium, Phillips says he hopes it provides fans "the best game-day experience possible."
Steve Odland ('80) was appointed CEO and chairman of the board of Memphis-based AutoZone in January 2001. Since then, shares of the country's largest auto parts retailer have risen from $28.50 to about $90. Sales for the fiscal year ending Aug. 31 totaled $5.5 billion.
In 2002, Bloomberg Business News named Odland the nation's top new chief executive officer.
Founded in 1979, AutoZone went public in 1991. The company now has more than 3,200 stores in 48 states and 49 stores in Mexico. For its commitment to ethics, AutoZone has been ranked fourth among more than 5,500 U.S. companies.
Odland previously served as chief operatin officer at Ahold USA, a division of Dutch grocery company Ahold, Inc.
Odland returned to campus to give a talk on corporate governance in November, 2003. The lecture was part of the Cardinal O'Hara Lecture Series. For more information go to business.nd.edu/.