Executive Forum Speaker Series
The Executive Forum is designed to provide the wealth of knowledge and experience of inspirational leaders and executives from a wide variety of businesses and industries. The speakers present a brief overview of their businesses, as well as specific professional experiences, followed by a discussion of key issues facing their industries in the current business and economic climate.
ACE proudly organizes the Executive Forum to help students and external audience members to hone in on their career development interests by enabling them to gain insight from business leaders who represent a wide array of industries.
The speaker series is comprised of presentations and seminar-like interaction with entrepreneurs and executives focusing on the practical nature of business development. Audience members and executives will discuss current challenges facing business and industry today and consider alternative ways of meeting these challenges.
Salman Khokhar is Principal of Koka Consulting,
a NY based consulting firm providing services to
the retail, merchandising, and fashion sectors. With
20 plus years experience in strategy and brand
development, he has worked to conceive dynamic
solutions to build new brands. His company’s
multi-disciplinary collaborations have provided
CEO’s for brands like - Donna Karan, Adidas,
Aditya Birla Group, Jordache, and Emmanuel Ungaro
– with key growth plans and strategic portfolio
optimization through Licensing and New Market
EARLY CAREER (1996 – 2001) Early in his career, Khokhar played a role in shaping the growth for both Calvin Klein and Donna Karan in the licensing and international division. At CK Jeans as AE of wholesale sales for the brand in Europe, he worked at the company through 2 mergers, eventually playing a key management role within the international division of the $1.5 billion distribution network at Warnaco from 96-98. Upon moving to DKNY, he concentrated on repositioning, brand segmentation, and new-entry into emerging markets. During his tenor as Head of New Business Development (which included Licensing, Franchising, and International Distribution , DK opened 15 international stores through partners in Asia, Middle East, Japan, and UK and the company signed licensing agreements with Liz Claiborne, CHF Industries, Marchon, Estee Lauder, to mention a few. DKNY grew to $1.2 billion prior to its sale to LVMH in 2001.
KOKA CONSULTING (2001 -2007) In the transition, Khokhar, along with a team of industry executives set up Koka Consulting. With expertise in divisional processes, brand development, new product launches, licensing, and international distribution – as Principal, he sets the direction for the firm’s programs and initiatives. Clients have ranged from retailers, fashion houses, and major brands in Asia, Middle East, Brazil, Russia, China, and India. Over the last 11 years the firm, under his direction, has worked with multiple Board of Directors on transaction advisory services and turnaround management for key retail and wholesale brands. Early Clients included manufacturers like Fleet Street where Salman launched Zero Xposur into Kohls, Sears, Pennys, and later Jordache and US POLO Association where he led the international expansion of the companies portfolio into Scandinavia, Germany, Turkey, Russia, Hong Kong, India. In 2006-2007 Clients included, Milk Group, the nations largest Photography, Modeling, and casting facility, and Aditya Birla Group in India – specifically Louis Phillip, Van Heusen, Peter England under Madura Garments.
In 2007 Khokhar took the role as interim Director of WATHNE – Accessory Licensee to Ralph Lauren and lead the restructuring and portfolio diversification efforts for the companies owners. With the Ralph License being brought in house to POLO, Salman helped secure Via Spiga, Oscar de La Renta, Lulu Lemon, Champion, and multiple other private label opportunities for the company to replace the Ralph business. Other clients of KOKA have included Carlos Miele (Brazil to France), Ozwald Boateng (UK to US & ME), Richard Meier (retail), Earl Jeans (Japan, Australia), and Giambattista Valli (Europe, US)
RECENT (2008 – 2014)
From 2008 to 2010 Khokhar was appointed Head of Global Licensing for Adidas Sport Style Division, inclusive of Y-3, Stella McCartney, and Porsche Design, where licensing agreements exceeding $200 million in net sales over 5 years came to the company through his direct involvement. Salman structured franchise and distribution partnerships in Emirates, Brazil, and Mexico that resulted in $40million in guaranteed purchases over 5 years specifically for Y3. In 2009, while still assisting Adidas, Salman was asked by the primary investors to drive the international and licensing strategy for Emmanuel Ungaro and later came on board as interim Consultant. The turnaround lead to a brand repositioning through new international deals for U by Ungaro in Japan, China and Russia. In 2011 Salman joined private equity firm EM Cap in Paris as part of the Operational Committee focused on small – mid cap investments into brands for Emerging Market expansion. He is currently involved in structuring deals in India, Brazil, Mexico, and the US for one of the brands EM has investments in. In 2013 Salman joined Manufacturing group ANK Intl. to create and launch a new brand SB47 – sales in three seasons grew by $2.0 million US Dollars. Currently Salman is directing the launch of TRANOI and a 100 international designers into the US Market via a multi-platform integrated trade show, online magazine and b2b sales platform.
LECTURES As a noted industry expert, Khokhar has spoken at Institute of Fashion Industries in Tokyo, Istituto Marangoni in Milan, ISB Hyderabad, NYU Stern, MIT Sloan, Harvard Business School, Cornell Johnson School of Business, INSEAD France, and FIT NY - He has been invited as an industry leader to speak at multiple conferences and to visit and advise designers and executives at, Russia FW, Sao Paulo FW, Lakme FW India, Stockholm FW, Berlin FW, and Hong Kong FW.
Maria E. Hernandez
Maria Hernandez is Senior VP Strategic Development at Modernizing Medicine responsible for leading strategic partnerships and alliances at this startup company. Modernizing Medicine is revolutionizing healthcare through its innovative electronic medical records (EMR) solution which intersects cloud, data and mobile to transform the way information is created, consumed and utilized by doctors. Prior to joining Modernizing Medicine, Maria was Chief Innovation Officer for IBM where she was a visionary leader and evangelist in driving innovation with IBM’s largest Strategic Outsourcing clients in Latin America, opening doors to new business and increasing client satisfaction through innovative technologies and solutions.
She also led the strategic thinking and transformation of IBM’s channel in North America with a focus on Cloud Computing as the game changer to drive solution selling through Business Partners. She developed the NA Cloud strategy which encompassed BP segmentation, offering readiness assessments, BP enablement activities, cross brand collaboration, and performance metrics to transform the growth initiative into an operational business. Her close relationships with BPs and Distributors coupled with her teaming across business units led to the successful adoption and revenue attainment of Cloud solutions by the targeted BP firms.
She expanded her role into the entrepreneurial ecosystem by launching StartupFlorida as the 5th state to be part of the StartupAmerica national initiative which brings together the private sector, incubators, investors, and other organizations to support entrepreneurs who leverage technology to drive innovation. Maria then worked closely with the ecosystem and IBM to conduct the first SmartCamp Kickstart event for Healthcare aimed at identifying early stage entrepreneurs developing business ventures which align with IBM’s Smarter Healthcare vision. Her growing knowledge and visibility within the entrepreneurial space led to her being selected for IBM’s SmarterCities Challenge in Malaga, Spain where she spent three weeks working with the City government and other key stakeholders understanding their entrepreneurial capabilities and recommending best practices and ideas to drive economic development and job growth.
Maria has also been a leader with IBM’s Corporate Strategy team responsible for business development activities in the growth markets identifying and supporting key growth plays such as Cloud. She worked closely with clients, IBM country teams, and Business Partners to develop innovative solutions and partnerships to progress and win complex deals. Her emerging markets experience included returning the Central American region to profitable growth, serving as a thought leader in their transformation to solutions and services, and providing customer insights and input into IBM’s strategic projects and initiatives given the role’s client facing interactions.
Prior to her emerging markets role, Maria successfully demonstrated her leadership and technical knowledge in a broad spectrum of experiences including being the IBM Executive Advocate for Ford Motor Co. assigned to manage customer satisfaction and increase the success of sales teams at this top tier IBM client. During her Executive Assistant assignment to IBM's Sr. VP of Research she led a team in identifying technologies and capabilities to leverage Research innovation within IBM's consulting business. She was at the forefront in bringing our Research capabilities and value through client engagements.
Maria is the founder of LatinNet, an IBM Latino network group with a track record of accomplishments in networking, mentoring and recruiting. She spearheaded La Red Familiar, a first of its kind virtual network for Latina leaders at IBM. She is also a founder of Madrinas, a non-profit organization for Corporate Latina leaders across the US. She serves on the Advisory Boards Latino Business Today online magazine, and St. Thomas Univ. Maria has received recognition for being a Latina role model and is a frequent speaker at women conferences and university events. She was recognized by Hispanic Business Magazine as of their top Women Elite for her influential role in corporate America, her leadership in the IT field, and her impact on the Latino community.
Maria earned a BA degree in Management Information Systems from Pace University, New York, and has attended extensive sales, technical, and project management education at IBM. She has also received a Masters Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University.
Robert Fink Jr. - Partner and Vice President of Operations, Containers Direct LLC
The Global Aluminum Industry, from the view of an FAU Graduate.
Youngstown State University, Ohio
Purdue University, Indiana
Florida Atlantic University, Florida
BA International Business, 1994
|Children:||Elizabeth, Jacqueline, Robert III, Jacques|
|Business:||25 years, Import and Export of semi- fabricated Aluminum products|
Belgium, Germany, Bahrain, Russia, China, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam.
2016: Korea, Thailand, Taiwan.
Jeffrey C, Toewe, Principal
Mr. Toewe joined Athenian in 2015 and serves on the firm’s investment team, focusing on Information Technology investments. His responsibilities include deal sourcing, origination, due diligence, investment selection, transaction structuring and portfolio company development.
Prior to joining Athenian full-time, Mr. Toewe worked as an independent technology consultant to several venture capital firms (including Athenian) for strategic guidance on certain technology investments. It was in this capacity that Athenian’s Partners became acquainted with Mr. Toewe and worked together on numerous projects.
As a tech start-up veteran with extensive tech aptitude and experience, Mr. Toewe has a demonstrated success in strategy, solution design & execution. He has founded and led multiple Digital, Mobile and FinTech companies, achieving multiple successful exits. Recent deals include Cinergy International in the UK, which provides sophisticated point-of-purchase decision systems to mobile telecoms; M-Dot Network, which led the definition of digital coupon standards, won #1 Amazon Startup of the Year and today is used by nearly 20,000 retail stores; and DoubleBeam/GoPago, a payments solutions provider that is now a leading Tablet POS solution.
Deeply active in the tech startup community, Mr. Toewe serves as an advisor and participant to multiple tech companies and enjoys mentoring startups. He has been featured and interviewed for Google #StartupGrind and has been a panelist and speaker for CTIA #LetsTalkPayments.
Mr. Toewe earned a BA in Politics from Saint Joseph's University and an MSIS (Master of Science in Information Systems) from Drexel University. He has also completed Open Courseware in Economics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Lenny Chesal - CMO & EVP Business Development
Chesal has been with Host.net, a multinational provider of managed infrastructure services focusing on cloud computing and storage, colocation, connectivity and business continuity for enterprise organizations, since January 2004 and has been responsible for the company’s sales, marketing and business development initiatives, building on 30 years of diversified experience in sales, marketing and executive management.
Chesal previously worked for BellSouth, Teleport Communications Group (TCG), AT&T, Florida Digital Network, Teleplace, WebUnited and ProtectPoint in a variety of increasingly senior positions. He spearheaded initiatives for the planning, development and implementation of the go-to-market strategies for the colocation, voice, data, and managed network security services offered by those companies.
Chesal is involved in various civic, non-profit, and industry organizations including the Immediate Past Chairman of the Board of the South Florida Technology Alliance (SFTA), IT Palooza Co/Founder-chair, Florida Atlantic University ITOM Advisory Board, Palm Beach State College Business Partnership Council for B.A.S. Degree in Information Management, South University Information Systems & Management External PAC member, Director Florida Foreign Trade Association, Inaugural Chair of the American Cancer Society-Relay for Life Deerfield Beach/Lighthouse Point/Hillsboro Beach, Big Brothers Big Sisters celebrity Kabuki chef, Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce Trustee, Workforce Alliance Infotech Workforce Development, NSU- Graduate School of Computer and Information Science and Huizenga School of Entrepreneurship, Past President of the Deerfield Beach Founders’ Days, and the Pompano Beach Seafood Festival and Fishing Rodeo Committees. Chesal was recently honored by South Florida Business and Wealth magazine with an inaugural Apogee Award as the outstanding CMO in Palm Beach County. He has been a featured speaker at Startup Quest, Leadership Broward, Leadership Palm Beach, NSU GSCIS and at the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center. He was listed as a “must-know” contact in Palm Beach County in Florida Trend Magazine and an inaugural member of the TechWeek 100 in association with eMerge Americas. Chesal has taken to the road as a cyclist raising money for the Miami Dolphins Ride DCC benefitting the Sylvester Cancer Center, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Cycle for Life, and his third 165 mile SmartRide from Miami to Key West. He was named Volunteer of the Year by the Deerfield Beach Chamber of Commerce for his dedication to the community and his work with the American Cancer Society. Chesal also shares his talents as the drummer for Gee Force, The World Famous Low Tides and several other local bands.
Chris Pyle - President & CEO - Champion Solutions Group
Christopher Pyle, President & CEO for Champion Solutions Group, began his career with Champion as a sales representative in 1986. Over the years, Chris has become the driving force behind the organization’s development of key strategic alliances and solution portfolio. It’s his vision and innovativeness that catapulted Champion up the ranks to become a $100 million organization and one of the most respected solution providers amongst top technology manufacturers including IBM, Microsoft, VMware, and NetApp.
Over the past 2 decades, Chris’s main focus has been that of Mergers & Acquisitions, as well as innovative product development and the associated go-to market strategies. He is the original founder and is an active member on the Board of Managed Maintenance, Inc., a SAAS provider and consulting firm that utilizes their award winning One-View Portal to help the IT Channel and its customers manage their IT Maintenance. Chris is also the original founder and chief strategist behind one of the original storage cloud providers, Storage Access/BluePoint. During the course of a few short years, he had raised $20M and took that company public on the Toronto Stock Exchange; and now it has recently been acquired by Pomeroy.
Most recently, Chris led the acquisition of MessageOps and the continued product development and worldwide launch of its premier SAAS, 365 Command. 365 Command is built on Microsoft Azure and is currently helping to manage over 1M seats of Microsoft’s Office 365. After achieving this phenomenal milestone, 365 Command and other MessageOps O365 utilities were sold to Kaseya. Additionally, Chris spearheaded the purchase of allAware, Inc.’s assets to further expand the MessageOps Microsoft cloud capabilities. Combining Champion and allAware’s intellectual property and its human resource capital, will deepen Champion’s skills in their Application Development, EMS, and Azure practices.
The success that has been garnered by Champion Solutions Group and its associated companies is due in large part to the leadership of its President & CEO, as evident by the numerous awards and accolades that have been received from the Technology industry and the South Florida Community. Some of these awards include Microsoft’s Rookie of the Year, Microsoft’s Cloud Partner of the Year, VMware’s Infrastructure Virtualization Partner of the Year for the Americas, Top 100 Cloud Service Providers, and South Florida Business Journal’s Ultimate CEO Award 2013 to name a few.
While Chris is actively engaged in the strategic direction of Champion Solutions Group, he makes time to serve on several advisory councils for technology companies as well as some of the major technology manufacturers. Chris is also an active member of Vistage International, the world’s foremost chief executive leadership organization, providing guidance and leadership to other executives and managers.
Peter Luukko - Executive Chairman, Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, llc
Luukko, 55, currently serves as the Executive Chairman of the Florida Panthers and its parent company, Sunrise Sports & Entertainment, LLC. He is a nationally-recognized sports management leader and member of the National Hockey League Board of Governors with over 25 years of experience running a professional NHL franchise. Luukko’s main responsibility in his current position is to build the Panthers and Sunrise Sports Entertainment, LLC into a world-class sports and entertainment company by generating a significant and broad base of corporate, community and fan support across South Florida for both the Panthers as well events at the BB&T Center.
Prior to joining the Panthers in April of 2015, Luukko was the President and Chief Operating Officer of Comcast-Spectacor, L.P. where he oversaw the Philadelphia Flyers. During his 25-year tenure, Luukko led Comcast-Spectacor's facility-management business, running more than 125 sports arenas, stadiums and convention centers. He was also responsible for the expansion of Comcast-Spectacor’s broad range of businesses.
Under Luukko’s leadership, Comcast-Spectacor helped Philadelphia garner national attention by attracting several high-profile events to the city of Philadelphia, including the 2000 Republican National Convention, the 2000 NCAA Women’s Final Four, the 2001 NCAA Men’s East Regionals, the 2001 and 2002 X-Games, the 2002 NBA All-Star Weekend, the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Gymnastics, the 2011 NCAA Wrestling Championships, the 2014 NCAA Frozen Four and numerous other sports and entertainment events. As President of the Flyers, he played an instrumental role in his club participating in two Winter Classics (2010 and 2012), while also hosting the 2014 National Hockey League Draft.
A recognized leader in the facility management industry, Luukko was the 2000 recipient of the City of Hope’s Tri-State Labor Award. He also received the 2002 prestigious Harold J. VanderZwaag Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Sports Management Program of the University of Massachusetts, his alma mater, for his accomplishments in the field of sports management. He received the 2013 Police Athletic League PAL Award for his contributions to the Philadelphia community.
In 2013, Luukko and Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider ranked 43rd on Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal’s prestigious list of the Top 50 Most Influential Leaders in Sports Business. The two are also two-time winners of Venues Today’s Hall of Headlines. He also was named one of Billboard Magazine’s Power 100 (2012 and 2013).
Luukko and his wife, Casey, recently relocated to South Florida and are the proud parents of three children, Nick, Dana and Max. Luukko is a hockey player, hockey coach and hockey parent. His son, Nick, was recently signed to the Leigh Valley Phantoms, an AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Michael Solomon, MPA
Michael Solomon, a former NYPD Special Investigator and bestselling author, is the survivor of a bizarre double murder attempt on his life.
As a national political and motivational speaker, Michael is sought after by many organizations and corporations. He is known as the speaker who leaves his audiences laughing, inspired, motivated and begging for more.
During his tenure in the intelligence division, he was assigned to protect the Shah of Iran and Madame Chang of Taiwan. He has personally met four U.S. Presidents. He was assigned as the intelligence officer to the U.S. State Department, where he participated in treaty negotiations between the United States and Turkey. In 1982, Michael proposed a change to the NYC retirement law, which saved them over $120 million, reduced taxes and balanced the city's budget.
He retired from the Police Department and joined the corporate sector in finance and management. After losing three corporate positions, and nearly bankrupt, he embarked on his own. Applying his own style of management, he was twice nominated by a national magazine for having the best company in America in his field.
Achieving success, he returned to his old beliefs and started to take care of the less fortunate. His work for various charities earned him the respect and praise of his community. In 2003, he was cited by both houses of the New York State Legislature in Senate and Assembly Resolutions as Humanitarian of the Year.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree Magna Cum Laude in Behavioral Sciences from the New York Institute of Technology and a Masters with Distinction in Public Administration from Long Island University. As an adjunct professor, he taught Political Science and Public Administration at William Patterson College in New Jersey. He's been a guest lecturer at numerous colleges and universities. In 2008, he presented the keynote address to the graduate school commencement at the New York Institute of Technology.
•· Success By Default: The Depersonalization Of Corporate America
Forbes Magazine book club said, "This book belongs on the desk of every CEO in America."
•· Where Did My America Go?
Started the new Tea Party movement-the largest political movement in America in over 200 years! Explores how the hypocrisy in American politics is causing a great divide in America today. Listed as #6 on the Amazon bestseller list.
New York Post columnist Steve Dunleavy said, "My only regret is that I didn't write it."
Honors & Awards
- Named among others as Time Magazine's "Person of the Year" in 2006
- Guest appearances on over 300 radio and television programs
- A FOX News special guest, he appears with Neil Cavuto and other FOXNews hosts
- As a FOX Business News panelist he has appeared with Dan Mangru on the Mangru Report
- Has also appeared on CBS, NBC and ABC
- An active member of the Forum Club, World Affairs Council and Economic Forum
Frank L. Duemmler, COO and Managing Director - Asset Management
Mr. Duemmler has been with Kayne Anderson since the launch of its real estate platform in 2007 and is responsible for its real estate investment operations and all asset management activities.
Mr. Duemmler also served as Chief Investment Officer until 2012, when Mr. Selznick joined the firm, and he continues to serve as a member of the Investment Committee. Mr. Duemmler has over 30 years of wide ranging experience in real estate and financial services. As Executive Vice President of Intrepid Capital Partners, a U.S.-based investment firm, he was a key player in the successful float of a $750 million real estate investment company on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM, and the subsequent investment of those funds in several mixed-use real estate developments in India.
Mr. Duemmler has also held senior positions at numerous leading investment firms, including Merrill Lynch, where he successfully built a commercial mortgage origination group, developed innovative real estate financing vehicles, managed and restructured over $700 million in commercial real estate loans, and structured over $400 million in merchant banking transactions. He raised equity capital for numerous real estate developments, and, as a private banker at Chase (now JP Morgan Chase) and PNC Bank, advised high net worth clients on real estate investment and finance opportunities, as well as hedging strategies.
He started his career at at a large Wall Street law firm handling real estate and equipment finance transactions, as well as corporate and municipal debt offerings. He earned a J.D. cum laude from Washington & Lee University School of Law and a B.A. with Honors in Economics from Colgate University.
Carmen Perez is president of FPL FiberNet, a leading provider of network solutions for businesses throughout Florida and Texas. FiberNet owns and operates end-to-end fiber-optic networks. Customers include wireless carriers and major telecommunications companies as well as hospitals, universities, financial institutions and governmental entities. In 2015, the company was ranked number one in Network Performance, Service Delivery and Billing in a national benchmarking survey of communications providers. Ms. Perez is responsible for the overall leadership, strategy and growth of the company. She was named to this position in January 2007.
Prior to her current role, Ms. Perez served as FPL FiberNet’s vice president of sales, responsible for all aspects of sales and marketing for the organization. She joined FPL FiberNet in 2004 as director of accounting and finance. Earlier, Ms. Perez served in the customer service organization of Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) as director of revenue recovery. Before that, she served as FPL’s director of corporate accounting and assistant controller.
From 1982 to 1989, Ms. Perez served as a certified public accountant at Deloitte & Touche, where she specialized in the management of audits of large financial and governmental institutions.
Ms. Perez received her bachelor of business administration degree from Florida International University in 1982.