On Thursday, January 28, a crowd of nearly 300 gathered at Portland’s Sentinel Hotel to celebrate the achievements of 10 of the region’s business leaders at Portland Business Journal’s Executive of the Year luncheon. The Oregon Executive MBA was thrilled that two program alumni—Sam Blackman, cofounder and CEO of Elemental Technologies, and Joe Robertson, president of Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU)—were among the executives honored.
2015 was an extraordinary year for both executives—and their accomplishments will likely have significant positive impact on the region’s business climate for decades to come. Blackman—a graduate of Oregon Executive MBA’s 21st class—sold his company to Amazon in a $296 million deal. Cofounded by Blackman in 2007, Elemental supplies the technology that enables live streaming of video content over the web. HBO and ESPN are among its more than 700 customers. Blackman continues to lead Elemental and aims to keep the company anchored in Portland, where he plans to help grow the city’s tech scene.
For OHSU’s Robertson—a graduate of the program’s 11th class—2015 was quite literally a $1 billion year. Under his leadership, the medical powerhouse raised $500 million dollars in just two years to secure the additional $500 million offered through the Knight Cancer Challenge. Many people would be content to stop there, but not Robertson. In 2015, OHSU announced a new ambitious goal: to raise another $1 billion by 2020 to tackle a variety of diseases, including preventable blindness and HIV.
As a gold sponsor of this year’s awards, the Oregon Executive MBA garnered a prime spot at the event. Executive director Dave Boush introduced two of the awardees and other faculty and staff members were on hand to give a special round of applause for Blackman and Robertson, as well as celebrate the other eight honorees.
"Because the Oregon Executive MBA has been deeply engaged with the region's business leaders for more than three decades, sponsoring this year's executive of the year event was a natural fit for us," said Julianna Sowash, the program's director of marketing and executive admissions.
Alumni from Robertson's Oregon Executive MBA learning team—known as the Trashrappers in honor of the memorable rap-influenced presentation they performed during their time in the program—dominated one table and offered an enthusiastic shout-out to their former classmate.
Another luncheon attendee had two good reasons to cheer. Not only is OHSU Assistant Vice Provost for Strategic Planning and Program Development Jennifer Boyd a longtime colleague of Robertson (in fact, he encouraged her to pursue her MBA in our executive program), but she and Elemental’s Blackman were members of the same learning team during their time at the program.
Another event highlight was Portland Business Journal's overview of its fourteen executives to watch in 2016. We were delighted to see that this group included two alumni of the Lundquist College’s undergraduate business program: Jill Nelson ’88, founder and CEO of Ruby Receptionists, and Matt Thomas ’02, founder and CEO of Townshend Tea Company and Brew Dr. Kombucha.
The Oregon Executive MBA congratulates all of this year's honorees on everything thing they've achieved—and we look forward to seeing your accomplishments in years to come.
Read Portland Business Journal articles about the Executive of the Year event, OHSU's Dr. Joe Robertson, and Elemental Technologies' Sam Blackman