AACSB Honors Two Albers Alums

Posted by Joseph Phillips, Jr. on Friday, October 16, 2015 at 1:24 PM PDT

To celebrate its 100 th  Anniversary, AACSB has identified 100 graduates of business schools worldwide as Influential Leaders.   AACSB is the premier global accrediting body for business schools.  These graduates are being recognized for their innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, business impact, and influence on social change.  The honorees come from schools in 21 nations and span 20 different industries.   The Albers School was fortunate enough to have two alumni selected -- H.E. Mohamed Ali Rashed Alabbar and Gary P. Brinson.  It is a distinct honor to have two or our alums in the group because there are so many deserving business school graduates out their having a positive impact on our world!

Mohamed Alabbar is one of the leading entrepreneurs in the Middle East and has had a major impact on the economics of the region. He graduated from Albers in 1981 with a degree in business administration and returned to Dubai to take a position in the Central Bank of the UAE as manager of banking supervision. He came from a poor family and was the first in the family to earn a college degree.  Later, he was appointed director and general manager of Al Khaleej Investments, a government-owned investment company with significant real estate interests, and through this position he established his presence in the real estate sector.

In 1992, Alabbar established Dubai's Department of Economic Development, which had notable success in opening doors to the private sector, initiating innovative public policies to strengthen the trade and business segments and establishing a culture of transparency and openness. In the process, he established a close relationship with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai, and he later became one of Sheikh Mohammed's trusted economic advisers.

In 1997, Alabbar helped established Emaar Properties-Dubai's largest real estate group. Emaar's projects include some of Dubai's most notable landmarks, such as the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, and the Dubai Mall, the world's largest shopping mall. Alabbar also facilitated a partnership with Giorgio Armani and established Emaar Hotels & Resorts LLC in an exclusive deal to launch a collection of luxury hotels in the designer brand's name. He is also known for creating the annual month-long Dubai Shopping Festival. Today, Emaar is not just active in Dubai but has initiatives in 18 countries around the globe.

Alabbar is well known for his pioneering role in positioning Dubai as a world-class city. He has been recognized for his business acumen and his influence in the Arab region in many prominent publications: Arabian Business, fDi Magazine, Fortune, Euromoney Magazine, and Advertising Age. Alabbar has put his status and leadership abilities to good use by serving as a member of the Dubai Executive Council and the Dubai Economic Council, as well as vice chair of the Dubai Aluminum Company (DUBAL).

In addition to his impact on the regional economy, Alabbar has also created several corporate social responsibility initiatives and supports various local organizations, such as the Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs. Focused on the need to promote affordable and low-cost housing, Emaar Properties undertook the reconstruction of the earthquake-ravaged village of Ngelepen in Indonesia. Alabbar also initiated a social housing project in Egypt, the Beyout residential project for the economically underprivileged. Finally, Alabbar has supported SU by serving on our board of trustees and making generous financial gifts to support university initiatives.

Gary Brinson graduated from the Albers School in 1966 with a degree in finance.  Growing up in Renton, WA, he worked his way through SU working at Oberto Sausage.  After graduation, Brinson earned an MBA from Washington State University. He was set to enter the PhD program at Stanford but was instead encouraged by Yale professor Eli Shapiro to join a portfolio management group at Traveler's Insurance for a year or two. He decided to veer from his academic plan to try his hand at investing.

Through the 1970s, Brinson rose to become CEO of Traveler's Investment Management Company. He became interested in investing globally, which was quite novel at the time, and joined First Chicago Bank to pursue that interest in 1981. By 1989 Brinson and his coworkers bought out their investment group from First Chicago and founded Brinson Partners.

In the mid-1990s Brinson Partners was acquired by Swiss Bank, and subsequently Swiss Bank acquired UBS. Brinson took over as chair of UBS Asset Management and led the group until 2001. According to published reports, Brinson was overseeing the management of approximately $1 trillion, a very large amount at the time.

Brinson has been very active in the CFA Institute (formerly AIMR), the organization that oversees the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. In 1999, Brinson received AIMR's Award for Professional Excellence. Other recipients include John Bogle, Warren Buffet, and John Templeton. Brinson has further distinguished himself as the recipient of the FMA's Outstanding Financial Executive award and the Graham and Dodd Scroll.

When CFA Institute Magazine  ran a cover story in 2003 about living legends in the investment profession, Brinson was one of seven individuals featured in the article (along with Buffet and Templeton).

Although Brinson never made it back to Stanford to pursue a doctoral degree, he has published research that any Stanford professor would be proud of. During his career, Brinson championed several important insights that are seen as conventional wisdom today but at the time were quite revolutionary. Perhaps his most influential work was a 1986 article in the Financial Analysts Journal  explaining that asset allocation is the predominant influence on portfolio return variability.

Today, Brinson works chiefly with the Brinson Foundation, which he founded to support charitable causes that work to encourage personal initiative, advance individual freedoms and liberties, and positively contribute to society in the areas of education and scientific research. As of 2013, the foundation distributed over $41 million via more than 1,200 grants to nonprofit organizations.  Brinson has also supported SU by establishing an endowed chair in finance, the Dr. Khalil Dibee Endowed Chair in Finance, which recognizes a retired faculty member who was influential in Brinson's development as a student.

These are two inspirational roll-models for our students.  Both came from humble backgrounds and were the first to earn a college degree in their families.  Both went on to have major impact on their professions, and both have undertaken major philanthropic activity to support their communities.  We are proud to have them recognized by AACSB as Influential Leaders!