Top 25: People to watch

Leaders envision a future shaped by globalization and technology

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Print this page by Paula C. Squires and Robert Powell

An emerging generation of leaders is shaping companies and businesses in Virginia. On this list, Virginia Business profiles some of the state’s newer executives. We also focus on people doing business in innovative ways.  Eric Anderson at Space Adventures, for example, has found a way to take tourists to the International Space Station, while Michael Pirrone at Impact Makers is pioneering a new business model that drives profits to charities.

Our top 25 comment on what they see as the biggest trends over the next 25 years. Among the drivers? Energy, transportation, globalization, mobile technologies and cloud computing. 

Tom Adams

CEO of Rosetta Stone Ltd., Arlington
Adams, the 2009 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, guided the language software company through a successful initial public offering during the recession. “Export lead expansion is the foreseeable future for businesses here in the U.S. Over the next 25 years, I see American companies becoming more global, with multilingual management teams leading the way.”

Eric Anderson

chairman, Space Adventures Ltd., Vienna Space Adventures is the only company that provides opportunities for tourists to catch a ride to the International Space Station. The company’s advisory board includes Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin.

Wes Bush

president and CEO of Northrop Grumman Corp., Los Angeles (soon to be based in Fairfax County
On his first day on the job in January 2010, Bush announced that he was moving the company’s headquarters from Los Angeles to the Washington area. The move was made to bring the nation’s second-largest defense contractor closer to its key customer, the U.S. government. “In order for the United States to continue to have the most vibrant defense industry in the world, the nation needs an aggressive push to manage the industrial base as a strategic asset. If we don’t take this action, we could potentially experience outcomes similar to what we saw in the 1990s – massive waves of talent departures; consolidation of companies driven by a focus on cost synergies instead of innovation synergies, and the loss of competition and innovation that implies; and investor reluctance to channel capital toward the defense industry.” 

Peter J. Bernard

CEO, Bon Secours Virginia Health System Inc., Richmond 
Bernard heads a growing health system that continually ranks on national lists of best employers. It’s currently building a $30 million ambulatory care facility, the St. Francis Watkins Centre, in Chesterfield County.  “The next 25 years will see a strengthening health-care industry in Virginia and across America. A number of factors, however, will be integral to health-care performance, including the development of true partnerships between health systems and physicians, and greater accountability for the care they provide, eliminating unjustified variations in care. Also, as we look to better and more efficient care for patients, the implementation of practices like electronic medical records or one universal health record for each patient, integration of services, greater access and increased physician/patient collaboration must become commonplace. Finally, deeper insight into how chronic conditions are managed and bringing wellness and prevention to the forefront of care is the way of the future.”

Kevin Crutchfield

CEO of Alpha Natural Resources Inc., Abingdon (moving soon to Bristol)
Crutchfield leads a company that, with its pending merger with Massey Energy, will become the third-largest producer of metallurgical coal, which is used in making steel. With developing nations such as China and India on a building spree, demand for Alpha’s coal should remain high for years.  “I’ll call them the ‘three E’s: electronics, energy and the environment.  Our lives will continue to evolve through creative applications of information technology, powered by affordable electricity.  As the largest source of fuel for electricity generation, coal will continue to be a key component of America’s energy future. Environmentally speaking, further development and application of clean-coal technologies will continue to reduce emissions while keeping electricity rates lower than in most other countries. Clean, affordable and reliable electricity will be a key advantage for the U.S. in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.” 

Mary Doswell

senior vice president of Alternative Energy Solutions for Dominion Resources Services Inc., Richmond
Doswell leads a unit developing wind and solar energy sources for the state’s largest electricity producer. “Advancements in research and technology will continue to drive business opportunities, with the global influence being more and more predominant …” 

Joel Erb

Founder and CEO of INM United, Richmond
Erb, who heads a boutique, integrated marketing firm, has been hailed as one of the country’s young, successful entrepreneurs. He started his company at 15. By 2005, he was named the Small Business Administration’s Entrepreneur of the Year for Virginia. “We’re in the middle of a mobile revolution and the impacts are substantial. Mobile devices will begin replacing our wallets for everyday purchases. The ‘app’ craze is just the beginning of how businesses will leverage the power of their customers being mobile. As increasingly “connected” generations enter the work force, their values, communication styles and ways of working will further mold the way businesses operate and succeed over the next 25 years.” 

Greg Fairchild

executive director, Tayloe Murphy Center, University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business Administration, Charlottesville 
In 2007, Fairchild won a three-year, $850,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to support research on community development financial institutions and their evolution. Last year, the Tayloe Murphy Center began the Resilience Awards honoring growing companies in economically distressed areas. “Over the last 25 years, we’ve learned that uncommon reliance on firms that ran large-scale operations in a relatively limited set of industries has left many wanting in our labor market. As we move forward, we will establish a vigorous economic base that cuts across traditional sectors — from small proprietorships to large conglomerates. To achieve this, we will create an unprecedented linkage between the knowledge generated in our centers of learning and the main streets that have made us an economic engine historically. We will close the social distance that unfortunately still hampers our commonwealth: the distance between our post-industrial and knowledge-management communities, and those who engage with each. There will be widespread recognition of the critical dialogue that must occur between knowledge, capital and entrepreneurship. This nexus, common in some of our communities today, will expand. We will engage our young people in this dialogue from an early age, and the conversation will extend from tip-to-tip of our commonwealth.” 

Mark Gerencser

executive vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., McLean
Gerencser penned a book in 2008, “Megacommunities,” which offers best practices on how to deal with challenges such as cyber security.  As the WikiLeaks scandal showed, the world needs cyber warriors who understand the need for a vast counter-response. “The three biggest trends I see over the next 25 years are:  infrastructure renewal and development; education and talent creation; and transforming our nation’s energy posture.  Our national security, economy, ability to compete globally, and our quality of life depend on it and we are now at a pivotal point where action is imperative.”  

Tom Hough

MTC Transformers, Wytheville
Hough’s company has been honored repeatedly as one of the fastest-growing in the state. Now he has started a subsidiary that will make charging systems for electric vehicles. “I see a revitalization of America’s manufacturing sector and a renewal of the corporate values that built our economy.  Successful companies will have a passion for their industry, place their customers first and value their work force and the community.  They will be socially and environmentally responsible and driven by technology and innovation.”

Darren Jackson

CEO, Advance Auto Parts, Roanoke
Jackson became president and CEO of Advance Auto in 2007. Under his tenure, Advance Auto’s stock price has risen about 80 percent. It’s often more economical to fix up an old car than to buy a new one — a point driven home by the recent recession.  “Transparency and sustainability driven consumers will share the fundamental economic landscape of the business and the world.” 

Suzy Kelly

CEO of Jo-Kell Inc., Chesapeake 
Jo-Kell is well known in Hampton Roads as an electrical distribution, engineering and solutions provider to the military, commercial marine and industrial communities. Kelly serves on many local boards and the governor’s Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring. She’s also a national founding partner for WIPP (Women Impacting Public Policy). “In the future, emerging technology will continue to change the way businesses and the work force communicate.  The days of handshakes, hugs and handwritten notes will be replaced with expanding global communications, such as texts, e-mails and video conferencing.  The next generation of workers will build relationships in a virtual environment that has no time or boundaries, impacting the business world as we have never seen before.”  

Thomas Loehr

executive vice president of Rolls-Royce North America Inc. Crosspoint Operations, Prince George County 
The British company plans to invest as much as $500 million and to hire as many as 500 workers at what will be its largest U.S. manufacturing center.  Loehr is the go-to guy responsible for delivering all aspects of the plans for this site. “I expect the globalization of business to accelerate as technological developments overcome the geographic and technical barriers of today. Market dynamics will continue to shift accordingly and cause business practices to evolve. Impacting and serving people globally will become the norm. A principal challenge will be adopting new methods in which to prepare the future work force. The successful alignment of industry, government and academic institutions in training people in relevant skill sets will be a key competitive advantage.”

John A. Luke, Jr.

Chairman, CEO, MeadWestvaco Corp., Richmond
He followed one of the company’s largest customers, Altria Group Inc., in making Richmond MeadWestvaco’s new headquarters. The global packaging and specialty chemical company built a beautiful, sustainable building and threw the best corporate open house Richmond had seen in years. Luke and MeadWestvaco have quickly become involved corporate citizens. “I hope there will be a decided move toward policies that support the competitiveness of American industry, including manufacturing, that will make the U.S. a great place for economic investment. Today’s world presents both challenges and opportunities for U.S. businesses — more competition but also rapid growth and millions of new consumers. However, too often we’re actually tilting the playing field against ourselves with policies, regulations and unnecessary costs that make it ever harder to compete in the globally interconnected marketplace. If the next 25 years were defined by a common sense approach to public policy — environmental regulations that don’t cripple industry, health-care reforms that reduce costs in the system, trade policies that expand our economic opportunities and a tax code that spurs new investment — then there would be another trend to celebrate: the renaissance of American industry and a return to robust economic growth.”

Tonya Mallory

co-founder and CEO, Health Diagnostic Laboratory Inc., Richmond 
The company, started one year ago, has expanded its headquarters at the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park and continues to hire more medical talent. It offers news tools for detecting and treating cardiovascular and related diseases.  “Over the next twenty five years innovation will be driven by new technologies designed to improve operational efficiencies and efficacy. Such technology will serve as a true differentiator for innovative businesses, leading to measurable improvements in the client and customer experience. For the health care industry, diagnostics in particular, innovation will drive more and more ways to detect the unexpected, leading to better care for all.  Few moments in medical history have held such promise and opportunity for the prevention of diseases while enhancing the continuum of care.”

Gracia C. Martore

president and COO, Gannett Co. Inc., McLean
Martore joined the Fortune 500 media company in 1985 as an assistant treasurer and began moving up the ranks. She was named chief operating officer in 2010, after serving as CFO for seven years. 

Roger Mody

founder and chairman of the Mody Foundation. McLean
Mody became a multimillionaire after selling his company, the Signal Corp, to General Dynamics Corp. in 2002 for $227 million. He recently bought into Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the Ted Leonsis-led Washington-area sports conglomerate that owns the Capitals, the Wizards and the Verizon Center. His Mody Foundation funds education, athletics, and health programs for disadvantaged children. “I expect over the next 25 years, as technology advances and infrastructure increases, that cloud computing will continue to change our world in the way we do business and live our personal lives. Businesses and people are already accessing cloud-based applications with e-mail and social media from their smart phones,  hosting their pictures online and streaming movies, but we are still in the embryonic stage of cloud computing. Over the next few decades, I could foresee cloud computing enabling more entrepreneurs to start businesses without being encumbered by IT problems that startups may have historically encountered, such as no more software updates as all software will be on cloud based servers. From a lifestyle perspective, cloud computing will likely allow us to shop at the drug/grocery store through virtual shelves where we can drag and drop using the iPad or other tablets. Children will also be the benefactor because with all the game station hardware gone, they will potentially have mobile 3D games and virtual reality at their disposal through cloud computing.” 

Charles “Wick” Moorman

chairman, president and CEO, Norfolk Southern Corp
Under his watch, one of the country’s major transportation companies is doing some innovative projects. Norfolk Southern opened the Heartland Corridor in September, creating the shortest and fastest double-stack route for goods traveling from Norfolk’s port to the Midwest. He also agreed to a landmark agreement with the state that will help return passenger rail service to Norfolk for the first time since 1977.  “I can say with confidence about the next 25 years that freight rail transportation will only become more important to the economy.  Its inherent advantages – energy efficiency, environmental friendliness, high capacity and safety – will continue to give the U.S. a decisive competitive advantage.”

Christopher J. Nassetta

President and CEO, Hilton Worldwide, McLean
He heads one of the world’s largest hospitality companies. Hilton, which recently moved its headquarters from California to Fairfax County, announced a $1.8 million expansion in February that will relocate another 100 jobs to Fairfax County.  “We can expect to see businesses such as ours continuing to expand globally, which of course we are already seeing signs of, particularly in areas with a large growing middle class such as China, India and Brazil. We now operate more than 3,600 hotels in 82 countries, and percentage of our rooms under construction outside the U.S. increased from 11 percent in 2007 to 73 percent by the end of 2010. While Virginia and the entire U.S. will always be an important region for us, we are focused on maximizing opportunities everywhere possible. As evidence of this goal, when we moved our headquarters to McLean, Va. in 2009, we also changed our name from Hilton Hotels Corp. to Hilton Worldwide which now better describes our globally integrated company.”  

Michael Pirron

CEO Impact Makers Inc., Richmond
His IT and management consulting firm — which focuses on health care — translates economic value into social value for the community rather than shareholders. All the company’s profits go to charitable community partners.  Currently, that partner is RxPartnership, a firm that provides free pharmaceuticals to uninsured clinic patients in Virginia. This new business model earned the company a No. 2 ranking on Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s list of America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs. “Consumers will be emboldened in the future to demand social responsibility from the companies they support.  The world will be greener, because it will have to be, and communities will be driven by a more local economy.  As local economies expand, people will demand more investment into the community from local businesses, which will continue to drive the expansion of social enterprise into the business mainstream.”

Michael Rencheck

COO of Areva Inc, Lynchburg
Areva manufactures nuclear power components for the government and other clients. Along with the state Tobacco Commission, it’s taking the first steps to establish a digital nuclear power plant main control room simulator in the Center for Advanced Engineers and Research, which could be a model for the country. “One of our major challenges in the coming decades is transitioning our economy to cleaner forms of energy while ensuring a system that is reliable and affordable. Our Virginia operations will play a key role by maintaining and developing nuclear power and other clean energy technologies. The business environment, access to universities, and a great work force make Virginia an ideal place for our business.”

Rebecca R. Rubin

Founder and president, Marstel-Day LLC, Fredericksburg
Founded in 2002 by Rubin, Marstel-Day LLC is an environmental and conservation consulting firm that has won numerous awards. Demand is growing for the analysis it provides in such areas as conservation of natural resources, climate adaptation, energy planning, water security, smart growth and transportation. “Climate adaptation is obviously going to be huge, but more specifically, there will be a focus on ecosystem services, or understanding and tapping into the collective benefits that humans derive from natural resources and processes that occur in the ecosystem, including many essential economic and social god such as purification of air, filtration of water and flood control.  Human activities are impairing ecosystem services on a large scale, as societies tend to disregard the benefits that ecosystems provide as well as grossly underestimate our enormous dependence on nature. That imbalance now needs to be corrected, and environmental consulting firms are going to have a major role to play in providing not just the thought leadership but also the engagement strategies to make that happen.”

Philip Shucet

president and CEO of Hampton Roads Transit
If the ability to get around in one of the state’s most congested corridors is going to improve, Shucet might be the man to do it. The former commissioner of the Virginia Department of Transportation won industry awards for his “Project Dashboard,” an online accounting of the state’s construction and financial performance. “Taxpayers will continue to pressure the public sector for clear results.  That’s as it should be.  Government expenditures can’t be justified by last year’s budget. Taxpayers will demand that government produce meaningful — and measurable – results.”   

Nancy Taylor

president and CEO, Tredegar Corp., Richmond
One of Virginia’s top women executives, Taylor was selected in January 2010 to succeed John D. Gottwald as the chief executive of Tredegar. She joined the company in 1991 and, prior to her promotion, headed the company’s largest operating division, Tredegar Film Products. “Because our business at Tredegar is global in reach, I see the impact of the economic growth in countries like China, India and Brazil as being pivotal.  Alongside the enormous opportunities that this growth will create will `be the challenges of adjusting to a new world order — everything from the shifts in consumer demand and raw material supply to changes in business practices.” 

David Thompson

founder, chairman and CEO, Orbital Sciences Corp., Dulles
Thompson started his company in 1982, and now it’s a growing force in the space industry. Orbital has a $1.9 billion contract with NASA to launch rockets that will carry supplies from Wallops Island on Virginia’s Eastern Shore to the International Space Station.  He’s received many industry awards, including the World Technology Award for Space from The Economist magazine.

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