The 2017 Alumni Entrepreneur Hall of Fame honorees are:
Partner, Cunnington & Cunnington; former chief executive officer, Ward Williston Oil Co.
Partner, Cunnington & Cunnington; former president, Ward Williston Oil Co.
Thomas W. Cunnington MBA’63
Thomas W. Cunnington is the chief executive officer of Cunnington & Cunnington, a consulting firm based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Prior to this, he was CEO of Ward Williston Oil Company. WW is an independent exploration and production company whose footprint is in the Bakken play of North Dakota. Under his leadership, the company was in the top 16 percent of oil producers in ND. He led the company into a successful sale in 2013.
In the 1980s, Cunnington was the CEO of Cyton Corporation, a company he founded that was involved in successful building development in Michigan. At that time, he developed medical complexes, shopping centers, and office parks. He successfully sold this company in the late 1980s.
In the mid-1970s, Cunnington started World Computer Corporation. He was the founder and CEO of this national firm. World Computer was the largest provider of turnkey systems for the credit union industry. This company was acquired by a national conglomerate under his leadership.
Cunnington served President George Bush as a member of his Presidential Transition Team. He serves on the board of various organizations. He is a trustee of Detroit Country Day School. He is a former chairman of the Michigan National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He is a board member of JAM, a relief organization working in Africa. His philanthropy work extends to orphanages, building food factories, drilling water wells, and medical clinics in developing countries. He is involved in a program working with people displaced by the Syrian war. He is actively working in Mozambique, Uganda, Sri Lanka, as well as programs in the USA, mentoring and educating young people.
He was honored in 2016 with the Distinguished Business Award from Northwood University. He was honored by Women of Tomorrow for his work with their Humanitarian Legacy Builder Award.
Cunnington earned his MBA from Babson College and served our country as a captain in the United States Army.
Laurie Cunnington is a partner with Cunnington and Cunnington, a consulting firm specializing in midsize energy projects. Formerly, she was president of Ward Williston Oil Company, a midsize oil exploration company, serving since 1990. Prior to this, she was an executive with Cyton Corporation, a development firm, building and maintaining shopping centers, industrial parks, and medical building. Her first startup was at Corporate Search, a national staffing and personnel consulting firm specializing in the computer field.
She holds board positions at Harvard University, J.F. Kennedy School of Government, Women’s Leadership Board, Oakland Family Services, and Women of Tomorrow, and former board positions at Opportunity International and executive committee of JAM, an African relief organization.
She is a member of The Committee of 200, Clinton Global Initiative, and Petroleum Council; a judge for the Winning Women program for Ernst & Young; a former judge for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award; and a member of UN Women.
Her philanthropic work includes programs supporting education, mentoring, microfinance, and relief work in the USA, as well as developing countries. She is working in Rwanda, Mozambique, Sudan, Uganda, and Jordan.
Cunnington was honored by Ernst & Young with the Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She received the Top Woman Owned Business Award and the Top Women Owned Businesses in America by DiversityBusiness.com. She was honored as Woman of the Month by WomenOf.Com. She was the featured story in
Oil & Gas Financial Journal and honored by DBusiness Powered by Detroit Women. Chosen by
The Wall Street Journal for its female leaders network, she was given the Distinguished Women award in 2014. She was honored in 2016 by Women of Tomorrow with their Humanitarian Legacy Builder Award.
She is a graduate of Wayne State University.
Rising Star honorees are:
Jamie Kent ’09
Touring Musician and Founder, Road Dog Music Group
One might say the future of Jamie Kent looks quite promising. He was named by RollingStone.com and The Huffington Post as an Artist You Need To Know, and dubbed a rising country star by Fox & Friends. Drawing on influences from modern country rock artists such as Jason Isbell and Will Hoge, as well as paying tribute to classic greats Bob Dylan and Tom Petty, Kent’s perfectly mellifluous tunes are roll-the-windows-down, soak-up-some-sun kind of good. Kent has no fear of hard work, playing more than 200 shows a year, including tours with Huey Lewis & The News, The Doobie Brothers, America, Brothers Osborne, Brandy Clark, Marc Broussard, and multiple showcases at the South by Southwest Music Festival. Kent is supported by The Collective, a concept he formed while at Babson, led by an amazing grassroots group of fans who help advise and fund his career in exchange for access to exclusive music, merchandise, and votes in the major decisions he makes. He’s officially endorsed by Durango Boots, Gibson Guitars, BOSE, and Telefunken Microphones, and his new album, “All American Mutt,” debuted at No. 16 on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart. Landing in between Luke Bryan and Dolly Parton, Kent was the only independent artist to break into the Top 20.
Michael Kasseris MBA’11
Co-owner, Rail Trail Flatbread and New City Microcreamery
“My career has been almost entirely in finance. After graduating undergrad, I helped my father open Theo’s Pizzeria and Grille in Weston, MA, and was the primary manager there for over a year. My father pushed me to leave the business and use my degree, so I then worked in mutual funds for two major financial institutions, Fidelity Investments and J.P. Morgan. The impersonal culture in the finance world did not suit me and I decided that if I was going to work in finance, I was going to help those who really needed it. So I joined Kiva.org, a microfinance institution that makes microloans to people in poverty living in the third world. For this job, I had to work in rural areas outside of Hanoi, Vietnam. It was there that I met friends with MBAs and got inspired to pursue my own. Having opened Rail Trail Flatbread Co. and the New City Microcreamery, I have fulfilled part of my dream to own my own business and I want to continue to build on this momentum and make Hudson, MA, a destination for foodies far and wide.”
Karim El-Gamal MBA’11
Co-owner, Rail Trail Flatbread and New City Microcreamery
“My first career out of college was in music. I was the founder, manager, and drummer of a touring rock band full time for three years. It was there that I learned the most valuable lessons in business and life that have ultimately led me to want to be my own boss again. After music, I was really excited about real estate and so I moved to Dubai to take part in the fast growth happening there. While working there, a client of mine recruited me to join his growing home theater business and be the manager of a new branch he was starting. While struggling through the economic crash for two years, I decided to sharpen my entrepreneurial business skills from the top entrepreneurship MBA program in the world at Babson College in Wellesley, and then pursue my lifelong dream of starting my own restaurant, which I have fulfilled with Rail Trail Flatbread Co. in 2012 and the New City Microcreamery this past May. Now I wish to expand on the model we have built with sustainable businesses that are engrained in the local economy where they reside.”
Abby Speicher Carroll MBA’15
Abby Speicher Carroll is a 2015 Babson MBA graduate and the co-founder and CEO of DARTdrones Flight School. DARTdrones is the national leader in drone training and consultations. With more than 45 flight instructors throughout the United States, DARTdrones trains companies, police departments, fire departments, government entities, and beginner drone operators how to become a safe and licensed drone pilot. She started her first company when she was 17, and graduated from Babson with the Entrepreneurship Award and the Sorenson Scholarship, and was the winner of Babson’s 2015 BETA Challenge Competition.