Harvard Announces 2023 Alumni Achievement Award Recipients

Harvard Business School

Harvard Announces 2023 Alumni Achievement Award Recipients

Harvard Business School has awarded five distinguished graduates with the Alumni Achievement Award, the school’s highest honor. The award is given annually to alumni who are leaders in their fields and exemplify the mission and values of HBS. The recipients will be honored at the HBS commencement ceremony on May 25.

The 2023 recipients include:

  • Reshma Kewalramani, MD, FASN (GMP 18, 2015), CEO and President, Vertex Pharmaceuticals
  • Depelsha Thomas McGruder (MBA 1998), COO and Treasurer, Ford Foundation; Founder, Moms of Black Boys United
  • Raymond J. McGuire (JD/MBA 1984), President, Lazard
  • Antonis C. Samaras (MBA 1976), member, Hellenic Parliament, Greek prime minister, 2012–2015
  • Stephen A. Schwarzman (MBA 1972), Chairman, CEO, and Co-founder, Blackstone

“This year’s Alumni Achievement Award winners have established themselves as great leaders, not by making the easy choice, but by taking risks and doing what they knew needed to be done to achieve something greater than the status quo,” Dean Srikant Datar says in a press release. “They serve as examples to the entire HBS community, and especially our soon-to-be graduating students, of leaders who make a difference in the world.”

RESHMA KEWALRAMANI

Kewalramani started her career in biotechnology joining Amgen in 2004 and serving in a variety of roles in both early- and late-stage drug development. In 2017, she joined Vertex Pharmaceuticals, becoming CEO and president in April 2020 and the first woman to head a major biopharma. Currently, she leads a global team of 4,800 people developing potentially life-changing treatments.

When asked how she makes significant decisions, Kewalramani says she asks herself the following five questions: “What’s best for my family? Will I learn as much as I contribute? Do I like the people? Can I see beyond the visible horizon? And then, what’s the riskier move to make?”

DEPELSHA MCGRUDER

In 2016, McGruder saw disturbing footage of two Black men being shot by police. As the mother of two boys, she decided to start a private Facebook group called Moms of Black Boys United. The Facebook group expanded and ultimately became two nonprofit organizations: Moms of Black Boys United (MOBB United), a 501(c)(3) focused on education, awareness, support, and changing perceptions; and MOBB United for Social Change, a 501(c)(4) that aims to influence policy around how Black men and young men are treated and perceived by law enforcement and society at the local, state, and federal levels.

Today, MOBB United has more than 170,000 members and highlights the experience of Black males through its SONStories project, where young Black men share their perspectives and experiences.

“It was this very raw, emotional place of pain I was feeling, that everybody else was feeling, too,” McGruder says. “It was a big learning moment; that it’s okay to open up and share.”

RAYMOND J. MCGUIRE                       

McGuire, now a leader in investment banking, started his career working in construction as a hospital orderly and as a law firm courier. After an early position with First Boston, McGuire went on to roles at Wasserstein Perella & Co., Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley, where he became global co-head of mergers and acquisitions. In 2005, he joined Citi, where he acted as Citi’s global head of corporate and investment banking for 13 years—the longest tenure for this position in the history of Wall Street—before becoming the vice chairman and chairman of Citi’s banking, capital markets and advisory business. McGuire was recently named president of Lazard, where he focuses on advising clients and boards as well as helping the next generation.

McGuire says his courage and determination from his childhood helped set a foundation for him to succeed in finance.

“You find yourself being able to compete in a world that up to that point hadn’t embraced anybody who looked like you, in any significant way,” McGuire says.

ANTONIS C. SAMARAS

Samaras, who served as 14th Prime Minister of Greece from 2012 to 2015, originally studied pre-med at Amherst College. However, after listening to a discussion by renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith on Russian politics, the gold standard, and US monetary policy, he switched his major to economics. A seven-year military dictatorship in Greece kept him from returning home after graduation, so he pursued an MBA at HBS.

“I came away with two takeaways that have been useful throughout my career: One, you must set goals, manage objectives, and deliver within a given timeframe; and two, with information overload, one must always discern the essential from the trivial,” Samaras says.

Samaras would ultimately join the New Democracy party when returning to Greece in 1976 and be elected to Parliament in his father’s home district of Messinia, where he is currently serving his 14th term.

STEPHEN A. SCHWARZMAN

Since co-founding Blackstone in 1985, Schwarzman has helped the firm expand to over 60 different strategic areas, including real estate, private equity, credit, insurance, infrastructure, and hedge funds. Blackstone has also become the world’s largest alternative asset manager, with 26 offices around the globe.

Schwarzman has also been known for his philanthropic activity, with his most recent gift being the largest Oxford University since the Renaissance to establish a Centre for the Humanities, including the Institute for Ethics in AI.

“I enjoy identifying and drawing conclusions from new patterns,” he says. “That’s where the fun is, that’s where the creativity is, so you can galvanize and excite other people to join you on the journey.”

Sources: Harvard Business School, Harvard Business School

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