Smeal MBA Advisory Board

Biographies of the Penn State Smeal MBA Advisory Board for the 2016 / 2017 academic year.

Smeal MBA Advisory Board - 2016 / 2017 Member Bios

Brian J. Conjelko

LinkedIn Profile

Brian is Downstream Business Analysis & Financial Reporting Manager at Exxon Mobil Corporation.  Brian began his career with Exxon in 1999 as a financial analyst for Gulf of Mexico oil and gas production operations headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana.  From 1999 to 2008, he held a variety of financial and management positions of increasing responsibility in ExxonMobil Production Company and ExxonMobil Chemical Company in Houston, Texas, and at the Corporate Headquarters in Irving, Texas.   

In 2008, Brian became the Controller for ExxonMobil’s LNG business ventures with Qatar Petroleum in Doha, Qatar. In 2010, he was appointed Asia Pacific Region Controller, ExxonMobil Production Company, for oil and gas production operations located in Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. He began his current position in April 2013.    

A native of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Brian is a 1991 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering.   He completed five years of active duty service in the U.S. Army as Captain of Field Artillery in the 24th Infantry Division located in Savannah, Georgia.  

In 1999, Brian graduated from the Pennsylvania State University Smeal College of Business with an MBA in Finance.  He also completed graduate studies in accounting and finance for energy companies at the University of Houston in 2004. 

Robyn Fisher Conrad

Vice Chair

LinkedIn Profile

Robyn is currently at Michelin North America in Greenville, SC, as Director of Marketing for the Agriculture and Construction business. She leads all North American Marketing functions, including strategy & positioning, distribution, communications and product development, and manages eight direct reports. She joined Michelin in 2008 as a Senior Marketing Manager in the passenger car tire business, working on designing and implementing a new consumer segmentation for the $4B business, then managing all direct consumer touch points (advertising, digital, influencers and motorsports) with a $70M communications budget. In this role she led development, testing and execution of the current global ad campaign, which delivered the highest engagement, enjoyment and persuasion on-air testing scores of any Michelin advertising spot.

Robyn worked at Starbucks Coffee Company in Seattle, WA, from 2005 to 2008 as Senior Marketing Manager for Global Consumer Packaged Goods, first on Seattle’s Best Coffee in the US, where she secured new channel distribution in Club and Wal-Mart, resulting in an incremental $10M in sales, before becoming responsible for the entire Starbucks portfolio for Canada.  

She also held various Brand Management roles at The Hershey Company from 1997 to 2005: (1) Led the Kisses Wrap Improvement Team (1998 Silver Medal winner-Continuous Improvement) which significantly improved wrap quality and reduced consumer complaints; (2) Co-managed Easter Season (second largest) and drove top-line sales by 5% (2001) and increased share by 1.5%;  (3) Led cross-functional team in the development and sales launch plan for new Mini Reese’s Pieces, which delivered a 35% total franchise increase in volume; and (4)

Recommended and gained agreement to test a new snacking platform within confection to include brand positioning focused on a large, unmet consumer need with a potential for increasing portfolio sales by 2x.  

Upon graduating from the MBA program in 1995, Robyn joined the Executive Development Program with GTE (now Verizon) as a Finance Associate, rotating every six months to various business units and functions across the GTE network, including:  Budgets & Results, Mergers & Acquisitions, and finally Product Management with GTE Wireless in Atlanta, where she assumed a full-time role as Product Manager until late 1997.

Robyn also holds a B.S. in Economics from Penn State University.

Megan DeStefano


LinkedIn Profile

Megan works for E.I. du Pont de Nemours in Wilmington, DE. She is currently a global consumer segments marketing leader for DuPont Nutrition and Health, a $3B business unit focused on feeding the world with nutritious, high quality, and safe food. In 2011 DuPont acquired a large food ingredients company, Danisco, and Megan was an integral part of the integration planning and execution. During 2012, Megan led a team of 10 people who examined three businesses united through acquisition and developed a new combined business model and go-to-market strategy.

Megan started her career in DuPont as a member of the Marketing Leadership Development Program (MLDP). While in the MLDP, Megan had three marketing roles. From 2010-2011 Megan led global marketing for DuPont Qualicon – a food safety diagnostics business. In this role she led all aspects of product management, communications, competitive intelligence, and demand planning. During this time, she implemented a customer loyalty program and customer segmentation which improved business profitability, growing the business by over 8%. From 2009-2010 Megan was global product manager for Qualicon, managing $45M in business. While a product manager, Megan launched three new products and grew the business 7%. Megan’s first role with DuPont was as marketing specialist for DuPont Fluoropolymer Solutions – a polymers business. During this time Megan led competitive strategy for the Teflon® business. She identified and pursued a $110M opportunity for a new technology in emerging regions. And she developed sustainability strategy and messaging based on lifecycle assessment to keep the value chain and consumers engaged with the Teflon® sustainability story

Megan began her career as an advertising professional, working in client services for Euro RSCG. While there, Megan served a number of large clients including Time Warner Cable and Nextel. For Road Runner Business Class, a segment of Time Warner Cable, she led the strategy development and execution of national customer acquisition campaigns which resulted in a 300% increase in sales leads.

Megan received her MBA from The Penn State University Smeal College of Business in 2007. While at Penn State she was President of the Women’s MBA Association and an active member of Net Impact and the Marketing Association. She received a B.A. in Management with a concentration in marketing from Hood College in Frederick, MD. She and her husband Matt and son March are happy to call Havertown, Pennsylvania home.

Brontë Hamilton

LinkedIn Profile

Brontë (MBA, 2010 – Strategic Leadership and Finance), served and deployed as a Major in the Australian Army, before graduating with an MBA from Penn State in 2010. Transitioned to Finance with TE Connectivity (global connector company), working out of PA / NJ in roles such as commodity and interest rate risk hedging, share repurchase and corporate financial planning and analysis (FPA). Currently Manager FPA with TE SubCom (subsea fiber optic communications). Enjoys running, motorcycling and reading.


Raghavan Parthasarathy

LinkedIn Profile

Raghavan is a Manager with Strategy & Operations practice at Deloitte Consulting LLP. He specializes in strategic transformation of clients in Chemicals, Distribution and Retail industries focusing on profitability improvement.  He has helped clients improve profitability and grow revenue through projects on category management, organizational design, supply chain strategy, planning, sourcing, logistics and distribution. In addition, he led the launch and ramp up of a new supply chain analytics service offering for Deloitte.

Raghavan joined Deloitte in 2012 upon graduating from Smeal with an MBA focused on Supply Chain and Corporate Finance. While at Smeal he was VP of Corporate & Alumni Relations with MBAA. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio and enjoys traveling, watching movies and sporting events.

Rich Pilston

LinkedIn Profile

Rich is the Principal consultant at R. L. Pilston & Associates, LLC located in Boiling Springs, SC.  His company is an Independent management and information consultancy which partners with clients to develop and implement market focused strategies for growth. 

Rich was formerly the Business Manager - Concrete Cloth at Milliken Infrastructure Solutions, LLC, a subsidiary of Milliken & Company headquartered in Spartanburg, SC.  Milliken & Company is an innovation company that focuses on "Doing Good" through its products, its practices and its engagements with the communities in which it works.  The company is dedicated to changing customer experiences through developing Unique Insights into market needs, and then using its capabilities in Deep Science and Meaningful Design to provide a truly unique experience to customers.  Milliken has core businesses in diverse areas from clothing fabrics to industrial fabrics to carpet and floor coverings to specialty chemicals.  In his role, Rich leads the cross-functional commercialization team for Concrete Cloth, a novel technology for delivering and installing concrete in logistically difficult locations (think of it as concrete on a roll - just roll out, fix in place, wet it, and you have a hard concrete layer the next day).  This role is responsible for all aspects of the product and the business, including P&L, strategy, product development, sales & marketing, and manufacturing.

Prior to joining Milliken, most of Rich's career has been in entrepreneurial environments, as a company founder and as an executive.  Most recently, he served as Vice President of Marketing for NanoTerra, a small nanotechnology co-development company in Boston.  During his MBA program, Rich served as an advisor, and then as Interim President for Indigo Biosciences, Inc., a contract research company in State College, PA, focused on assay services for nuclear receptors.  Rich led the redirection of the company's strategy toward a more sustainable product-based model, raised seed funding to grow the company, and hired a seasoned executive to lead the company's new direction.  In his earliest entrepreneurial endeavor, Rich started Plextronics, Inc., a semi-conductor materials company in Pittsburgh, PA, and served as its founding CTO.

After earning his MBA, Rich spent three years at DuPont, serving first as Market Development Manager in DuPont Central Research & Development, where he worked on long-range technology platform developments, and then as Global Market Manager for DuPont's specialty fluorochemical solvents business.

Rich earned a B.A. in chemistry and a B.Mus. in general music from DePauw University in Greencastle, IN, a Ph.D. in organic materials chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University, and completed his MBA at Smeal with concentrations in marketing and finance.

Jeff Pontius

LinkedIn Profile

Jeff is the Vice President of Finance and Business Operations for Blue Pillar, Inc. based in Maryland and Indianapolis.  Blue Pillar is a leading provider of critical power and energy management solutions for complex single site and centralized multisite facilities that leverage the power of asset connectivity, control, and data management to help organizations improve energy resiliency, efficiency, and overall facility operations. 

Prior to Blue Pillar, Jeff served as Vice President of Business Development for KDC Solar.  KDC is a private, independent power producer focused on developing large scale solar projects in the US and Caribbean.  Prior to his current role with KDC, Jeff served as Executive Vice President of Worldwide Business Development for SPI Solar from August 2008 through March 2013.  At SPI, Jeff managed the worldwide sales team and was responsible for all aspects of project development, project financing, revenue, and margin targets of the company.   

Prior to SPI, Jeff served as Director of Finance at Vista Point Technology (a subsidiary of Flextronics) from February 2007 through August 2008.  While at Vista Point, Jeff was based in Hong Kong and later Roseville, CA.  His responsibilities included ownership of all finance-related activities for operations in Asia, M&A analysis and integration, R&D investment strategy support, and sales & marketing pricing support.   This scope included leadership of the finance teams across China, Malaysia, and US.

Upon graduating from Smeal, Jeff worked in operations finance at Intel Corporation for close to nine years.  He held various roles within Intel Finance’s rotational leadership development program.  This included relocating to China from January 2002 through January 2008.  Jeff held several site leadership roles within Intel China culminating in the role of China Country Controller.  In this role, Jeff owned all finance-related activities for Intel in China including, sales & marketing finance, accounting, tax, customs, treasury, and R&D functions.

Jeff completed his MBA, with concentrations in Finance and Marketing, in 1998 at the Pennsylvania State University Smeal College of Business.  At Smeal, Jeff served in the MBA Association as the VP of Marketing and Recruitment.  He was also a Graduate Assistant in the Office of Business Student Organizations.  In the spring of 1998, Jeff led the creation of the Michael Ryan Phillips Memorial Scholarship fund which is awarded annually to a Smeal first year MBA student.  Prior to Smeal, Jeff graduated from Salisbury State University (MD).  Jeff currently resides in Frederick, MD with his wife and two children.        

Jorge Quezada

LinkedIn Profile

Jorge is the Manager of Collaborative Planning, Forecasting and Replenishment for Colgate-Palmolive. Jorge joined Colgate in 2012 as a Global Supply Chain Associate in the Global Supply Chain Rotational Program where he gained experience in Customer Service and Logistics, Warehouse Operations, Production Planning and Procurement. Upon completion of the rotations, he joined the Distribution Center Operations team for North American Customer Service & Logistics, where he oversaw the operations of Colgate's third-party logistics distribution centers and was instrumental in the launch of the Nuevo Laredo, Mexico cross dock facility.

Jorge was then promoted to Customer Efficiencies Manager with the North American Customer Alliance Team, where he successfully managed Cost-to-Serve as well as compliance with the U.S. Company's logistics efficiency program. He partnered with the Customer Alliance Managers and the Customer Development Organization to lead several continuous improvement projects that reduced vendor compliance fees and improved on-time delivery performance. He also worked closely with Supply Chain Integration and the Global Shared Services Organization to streamline current reporting capabilities.

Prior to becoming the Manager of Collaborative Planning, Forecasting and Replenishment, Jorge was the Sourcing Manager in charge of Market Research and Consumer Insights Procurement.  In this role he partnered with the Consumer and Market Insights team to manage all procurement activities for the purchase of syndicated data and market insights projects for North America.

Before attending Smeal, Jorge worked at Pinnacle Airlines in Memphis, TN, where he held positions of increasing responsibility within flight operations and revenue management, culminating as Manager of the Operations Control Center. He is also a U.S. Navy veteran.

Jorge holds a BS degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and an MBA with concentrations in Supply Chain Management and Finance from the Smeal College of Business at Penn State University.


Paari Rajendran

On Leave for 2017-18

LinkedIn Profile

Paari is a Principal at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) where he specializes in improving profitability and enabling growth through Supply Chain and Operations levers.  He formerly was a Manager in the Strategy and Operations practice of Deloitte Consulting.  He has worked with and advised global organizations in Consumer Products, Lifesciences and Automotive industries on topics such as supply chain challenges including Supply Chain Strategy, Manufacturing and Distribution Network Strategy, Manufacturing and Postponement Strategy, Plant Productivity, Supply Chain Planning and Product Development.

Paari is an MBA graduate of the class of 2011 from Smeal.  He and his wife, Neha, also a Smeal MBA, class of 2013, and daughter live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Brad Updegrove

LinkedIn Profile

Brad is currently the Director of Business Engagement in Johnson & Johnson’s Research & Development Procurement organization.  In this role Brad is accountable for ensuring alignment between Procurement strategy and the strategies of Johnson & Johnson’s Medical Devices R&D teams, helping to drive earlier business engagement, strategy, and compliance.  Brad has held this position since 2015.

Brad joined Johnson & Johnson in 2008 as a Sourcing Lead supporting the Global Chemical Category.  In this role he was responsible for providing oversight of and insight into the chemical purchases for all Johnson & Johnson Operating Companies globally.  He later assumed a position as a Sourcing Lead for Logistics supporting the Johnson & Johnson Group of Consumer Companies where he was responsible for managing the sourcing activities and supplier relationships for various logistics activities.  He then transitioned into the Pharmaceutical Sector where we held positions of increasing responsibility, most recently as the Sr. Commercial Services Manager where he provided procurement support to the Janssen Pharmaceuticals commercial organizations.  In this role Brad led a team that supported all of the commercial sourcing activities in support of the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Sales & Marketing teams. 

Brad holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Logistics and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Pennsylvania State University.  Brad serves on the Board of Directors for the VTV Family Outreach Foundation, as well as on the Central Board for Junior Achievement of New Jersey.  Brad lives in Hopewell, NJ with his wife, Jen.

Jodie Vanderman Driver

LinkedIn Profile

Jodie is a versatile global marketer, general manager, and sales leader.  Jodie began her career by starting and growing a successful cosmetics business.  Key accomplishments include adding 500 customers within a 2-year time frame and developing and leading a 25 member sales force across the United States.  Jodie owned her business for 5 years prior to returning to school for an MBA. 

Since graduating from Penn State University with her MBA in 2008, Jodie has held a variety of internal consulting, marketing, and management positions with DuPont in both the United States and Asia.  During her tenure as an internal marketing strategy consultant, projects Jodie worked on delivered $30M in incremental revenue and saved $130M in fixed costs.  In 2010 and 2011, Jodie lived in Shanghai and traveled throughout Asia to launch a new strategic marketing process among DuPont’s regional presidents, business executives, and marketing professionals with the mission to profitability grow the region.  Tasked with infusing robust marketing capability into the organization, Jodie also designed and implemented the Greater China MBA recruiting, hiring, and talent management commission and advanced the Marketing Leadership Development Program in Greater China.  In Jodie’s final role with the company, she managed the full portfolio of the $3.4B Health & Nutrition division’s global food and pharmaceutical safety testing business, with accountability for brands such as BAX®, RiboPrinter®, Lateral Flow System and StatMedia that detect potentially deadly pathogens along the food production value chain and within pharmaceutical clean rooms.

Jodie also serves as an Adjunct Professor at West Chester University, where she teaches marketing strategy.

Jodie is undertaking a purposeful transition to address her next career stretch, business challenge, and significant leadership role.  She is targeting marketing strategy executive positions with mid-phase startups within the health and nutrition markets based out of the Philadelphia area.  This builds on Jodie’s experiences as an entrepreneur as well as a marketing and general manager in a large corporation.  Jodie is passionate about bringing teams together to grow businesses, develop new markets, create competitive advantages, and deliver exceptional customer experiences.

At The Smeal College of Business, Jodie concentrated in Product and Market Development and Strategic Leadership and also served as President of the MBA Association.  Her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree is from Shippensburg University.

Trebor Wright

LinkedIn Profile

Trebor is a Partner/Principal in the Advisory Services practice of Ernst & Young LLP. He has over 16 years of consulting experience working with global companies.  He has led several, strategic and large scale finance and operational process improvement projects in conjunction with ERP design and implementations.  His projects focus on operational excellence, process standardization, and coordination of activities/functions within a Shared Environment or Centers of Excellence.

Trebor has served multiple industries including:  Industrial Manufacturing, Bio-pharmaceuticals, Healthcare – provider, Consumer Products and Software/High Tech.  He has serviced the following clients: Campbell Soup Company, Zoetis, Tyco, Sony Pictures, JCI, Dean Foods, Microsoft

Trebor currently lives in Princeton, NJ with his wife, Nita (also a graduate of Smeal MBA) and his two daughters.  His interests include surfing, traveling and cooking.  He is a graduate of Loyola University Maryland with a BA in English Literature and an MBA from Smeal (Class of 1997).