During the economic recession a few years back, Pittsburgh re-invented itself as a city of innovation as local technology companies drove job growth and financial sustainability. Carnegie Mellon University alumni played a major role in the city’s transformation.
Honoring the region for its renaissance, Smart Business Magazine brought its popular Smart 50 Awards program for top business and organizational leaders to Pittsburgh this year, and Carnegie Mellon participated as a sponsor of the program that honored recipients during a dinner and reception on Nov. 19 at the Marriott Pittsburgh City Center.
Presented by Chase, recipients were recognized as the top executives of the smartest 50 companies in the Pittsburgh region for their ability to effectively build and lead organizations that have a strong commitment to the area’s growth and success. The honorees represented a diverse span of industries, including corporations and community service organizations.
In addition to its sponsorship, Carnegie Mellon took the spotlight as several alumni were among the Smart 50 recipients. They were:
- Josh Knauer (BA/DC ’95), president and CEO of Rhiza;
- Sean McDonald (EMP ’91), president and CEO of Precision Therapeutics;
- Jesse Schell (MS/CIT ’93), owner of Schell Games and professor of entertainment technology at CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center;
- Herb Shear (EMP ’01), executive chairman at GENCO;
- Scott Barnyak (BSIM ’91), principal partner at SDLC Partners; and
- Henry Wang (BS/DC ’97; MIS/HNZ ’97), principal at TMD Holdings, LLC.
Keynote speaker Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, spoke about what it takes to lead a “smart” business and praised Pittsburgh’s development and economic revival in recent years. Yablonsky credited the region’s success, in large part, to the leaders and companies being recognized, and noted the greatest challenges and opportunities for the area’s expansion moving forward.
As a sponsor, Carnegie Mellon hosted a day of judging at the Jared L. Cohon University Center on Oct. 1. Representatives from each company attended to explain how their company is innovative, impactful and sustainable. Mark Burd, director of public relations at the Tepper School of Business, served as a member of the judging panel.
Joining Carnegie Mellon as sponsors of the Smart 50 Awards were Smart Business, Fragasso Financial Advisors, HDH Group and Clark Hill.