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Board of Directors
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The Board of Directors serves as the overarching advisors to the Thunderbird Independent Alumni Association (TIAA).

 

 

Harry Cockrell
Class of 1973 

Mr. Harry A. Cockrell is the Founder and Managing Director of the Pacific Tiger Group (PTG), a diversified investment holding company based in Hong Kong. PTG's business portfolio primarily focuses on real estate development, food manufacturing and distribution, gasoline distribution, and the packaging and IT industries. Geographically the company's businesses cover the Asia Pacific region from the United States to Australia. The company was established in 1978.

Mr. Cockrell was born in Hong Kong and raised in Taiwan and Japan. After receiving a degree in Asian Studies from Seton Hall University, he attended the Thunderbird School of Global Management, where he graduated with the Class of 1973. His career in commercial banking commenced in New York with the Chemical Bank. He subsequently joined the First Boston (Europe) Limited, which in turn led to an 11-year commitment with the National Commercial Bank in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Mr. Cockrell left financial services in 1985 to focus on the Pacific Tiger Group.

Highlights of his business career include directorships of Jardine Asian Realty Fund, the Asian Infrastructure Fund (Investment Committee), and non-executive directorships of Hanes Brands Inc. and Sonoco Products Company, both of which are listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

 

 

Doug Deardorf
Class of 1984


Doug Deardorf is a co-owner and CEO of NiSoft, a technology company that provides software and professional services to optimize plant operations in continuous process industries such as power generation and refining, worldwide. NiSoft’s flagship product is used by industry to enhance safety and productivity while maintaining compliance with corporate and industry standards. The company is based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and maintains offices in Singapore and Denver, from where Doug manages the company.

Mr. Deardorf was born in California and moved to Seattle where he attended Seattle Pacific University and obtained degrees in both Business and Psychology. While there he also competed on and was elected captain of the crew team. Doug attended the Thunderbird School of Global Management and obtained a Master’s Degree in 1984.

After graduating from Thunderbird, Mr. Deardorf has held positions of increasing responsibility with technology and consulting firms including Itron, PwC, S2 Systems, Indus International (now a division of ABB), NiSoft, and Wausau Financial Systems. His work has involved extensive travel throughout Latin America, Europe, The Middle East and Asia. In 2008, Doug led the friendly acquisition of his former employer, NiSoft.

Mr. Deardorf has served on the Alumni Board at Seattle Pacific University and is presently a member of the Executive Advisory Board for SPU’s School of Business Government and Economics. He became a member of the TIAA in 2014 and, prior to joining the Board, has supported and participated in TIAA events.

Doug and his wife Rachel live in Castle Rock, Colorado, and enjoy the outdoor activities the area offers including running, skiing, biking, and climbing “14ers”. Two of their three children live in Oklahoma and the third in Texas.

 


Knut Eriksen
Class of 1981

Knut Eriksen retired recently as Senior Vice President of Business Development and Executive Officer from Oceaneering International, a $2.3 billion oil and gas services company with the world’s largest fleet of ROVs (Remote Operating Vehicles or deepwater unmanned submarines). In addition to its main business of providing support for deepwater oil drilling and production operations, Oceaneering broadcasted the first pictures of the Titanic taken by ROV. 


Knut’s career has been anything but under water. A Norway native, Knut combined two Master’s in Engineering degrees and a Thunderbird MBA to parlay himself into a highly successful, 41-year career in the global offshore and deepwater oil and gas industry, providing business opportunities and projects in places like Alaska, the east coast of Canada, the Gulf of Mexico, Brazil, the North Sea, the west coast of Africa, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia.

A classic T-bird, Knut is a seasoned global executive with a background in business development, engineering, project management, and corporate management in the offshore and deepwater oil and gas business. With a unique combination of knowledge and experience in the service, contractor and E&P sectors, Knut has expertise in strategic restructuring processes, both stand-alone and following acquisitions. He also has conceived and implemented technical strategic innovation programs. He takes a hands-on leadership approach to building processes around governance, compliance, and core values. This approach has served Knut and his employers well.

In his most recent position as Senior Vice President of Business Development, Knut built Oceaneering’s global sales and marketing organization and developed strong relationships with executives of the IOCs (International Oil Companies). As Senior Vice President for the Subsea Products Business Unit at Oceaneering from 2010 - 2014, Knut led a 2,500-employee business during a strong growth period, increasing revenues from less than $500 million to more than $1 billion. In addition, Knut has held senior and C-level positions with companies including NATCO Group, various Aker Group companies and Unocal Corporation. Currently, he advises the oil and gas industry as President of Eriksen Associates.

Knut has served in various roles on the Board of Directors for the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce, Southwest Chapter, Houston, TX, on the Board of NATCO Group Japan (JV of NATCO, MODEC and Daiichi) of Tokyo, and numerous US and international subsidiary Boards of Oceaneering, NATCO Group and Aker.

Knut began his career with the largest construction company in Norway. He attended the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, where he earned the first of his three Master’s degrees. In addition to Thunderbird and his education in Norway, Knut received his M.Sc. from Washington State University. He is a Registered Professional Engineer (PE) in Texas; a European Engineer (EURING); and Registered Professional Engineer (PE) in California.

Growing up in a small agricultural and forest community north of Oslo, Norway, Knut became involved in sports, particularly competitive skiing and orienteering, early in his life. He is married to German native, Annette, and they have happily found their home in Houston, Texas for the last 25 years. Knut and Annette, who shares her husband’s love of Thunderbird and T-bird alumni, split their time between homes in Houston and Santa Fe, New Mexico, where they enjoy hiking and skiing.

 


Thomas F. Greer, Jr.
Class of 1973

Mr. Greer is a founding partner of CEC Management Limited, an independent private fund management firm investing in companies focused on the China domestic consumer market. 

Mr. Greer was Chairman and Managing Director of Bank of America Trust in Asia, where he headed the private client and asset management businesses. He served on the bank’s Global Asset Allocation Committee and the Investment Committee of its Asian Direct Equity Fund. 

Prior to joining Bank of America, Mr. Greer was the senior executive in Asia for Royal Trust where he initiated and built an integrated merchant banking, private banking and asset management business throughout Asia. He began his business career with Morgan Guaranty and Trust in New York City and later worked for Citicorp for twelve years holding senior corporate finance and management positions in Indonesia, South Korea and Hong Kong. 

He was a member of Young President Organization - Hong Kong Chapter - and is an active member of the World President’s Organization - Northern California and Hong Kong Chapters. He is a member of the Board of Directors for ChinaVest Merchant Bank an affiliate of Wells Fargo Bank. 

Mr. Greer has a Bachelor of Science degree in business from the University of Colorado and a Master of International Management from the Thunderbird Graduate School of International Management. 

He was a co-founder and Vice Chair of the Thunderbird Global Private Equity Center, past Chairman of the Thunderbird President’s Global Council and, until recently, a Trustee of the school. He is a former trustee of the Asia Art Museum of San Francisco, past president of the Hong Kong American Club, and a member of the Asia Society. 

Prior to starting his business career, Mr. Greer served four years in the U.S. Army, entering as a private and rising to the rank of captain. He served with the "Old Guard," the 5th Special Forces in Vietnam, and the 10th Special Forces.

 

Merle A. Hinrich
Class of 1965

Merle A. Hinrich is Executive Chairman of Global Sources (NASDAQ-GS: GSOL), Asia’s leading business-to business media company focused on global trade. He co-founded the company in 1970 with the firm conviction that free and mutually beneficial trade between East and West would help drive global economic prosperity, and ultimately, world peace.

To that end, the Company’s focus is to help remove the uncertainty inherent in cross-border trade between buyers and suppliers by providing the most reliable information possible on new products, quality manufacturers and supply market conditions in support of two-way trade with Greater China, Asia and the world. Today, Global Sources’ (www.globalsources.com) network covers more than 60 cities worldwide and assists more than 1 million buyers in more than 240 countries and territories, fulfilling Mr. Hinrich’s vision.

Under Mr. Hinrich’s leadership, the company was the pioneer in the use of the Internet for international trade, launching Asia’s first B2B online marketplace in 1996. The Economist magazine recognized Mr. Hinrich as “Asia’s e-commerce king”, while Forbes Global magazine has repeatedly voted Global Sources “Best of the Web."

A keen desire to advance education opportunities, drive business innovation and leverage technology are guiding principles of Mr. Hinrich’s approach to developing international commerce and philanthropy.

He graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and Mathematics, and then gained a Graduate degree in International Trade at American Institute of Foreign Trade (now known as Thunderbird School of Global Management). In 1996, the University of Nebraska awarded Mr. Hinrich an Honorary Doctorate Degree, and in 2010, the Thunderbird School of Global Management conferred upon Mr. Hinrich the honorary degree of Doctor of International Law, in recognition of his global mindset and his role as a true global entrepreneur.

Mr. Hinrich merged his passion for higher education, information and technology by spearheading the creation of a state-of-the-art library at Thunderbird, which opened in 1994.

In China, Mr. Hinrich guided Global Sources’ education initiatives to develop the Global Sources Information Centre, an electronic information library at the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Shanghai, which ranks among the top MBA schools in the world. He has made a significant commitment to the advancement of journalism in China through the Global Sources Hall at the influential Tsinghua University’s School of Journalism and Communication in Beijing.

Under Mr. Hinrich’s leadership, Global Sources remains committed to educating Chinese management executives, including a one-of-a-kind Excellence in Export Marketing program. This intensive executive level course was offered across China in association with the prestigious Beijing University’s China Center for Economic Research.

He developed Chief Executive China magazine to provide best-practice international management expertise for China’s high-level executives and managers. It is the widest-circulated BPA-audited (Business Publication Auditing) management publication in China. More than 2,000,000 senior managers read the magazine each month and use its complementary website.

Mr. Hinrich is a member of Tsinghua University International Advisory Board for China’s first-ever English language Global Business Journalism program and an advisor to the Hong Kong Baptist University. He is a member of the Economic Strategy Institute in Washington, D.C., and co-founder and former Chairman of The Society of Hong Kong Publishers.

He is also an Investment Promotion Ambassador with Invest Hong Kong. Extending his lifetime work with Global Sources, Mr. Hinrich founded the Hinrich Foundation, an independent philanthropic organization established for the charitable purpose of promoting sustainable global trade. It is Mr. Hinrich’s long-held conviction that in today’s globalized world, sustainable trade is vital to prosperity and harmony. The Foundation aims to encourage the private sector and governments to drive innovation and competitiveness in trade-related activities undertaken by individuals, companies, industries and countries by focusing on three programmatic areas: international trade policy research, trade related education & training and export led job creation.

Mr. Hinrich and his wife Miriam reside in Hong Kong.

 


Nimrod Kovacs

Class of 1977

Nimrod Kovacs ‘77 calls himself a retired international business guy, but those of us who know him know there’s more to the story. Born in Budapest, Hungary, Nimrod Kovacs made his way – only after escaping Hungary in 1972 by swimming from current day Slovenia to Italy - to the U.S in his early 20s. After learning English and working his way through the University of Colorado as a waiter, Nimrod ultimately earned an MBA in International Business from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Nimrod then began a 35-year long career in the arenas of advertising, cable television, and telecommunications.

From Phoenix, Arizona, he moved to New York to join Doyle Dane Bernbach advertising agency, where he worked on the American Airlines and Hershey Foods accounts. Nimrod then joined Grey Advertising, where he worked on the General Foods business, followed by a stint at Wells Rich and Greene where he worked on the Ralston, Alka Selzer and the New York State businesses.

In 1982, Nimrod moved to Colorado to become the Marketing director for United Cable Television Corporation from where he was quickly promoted to head the Marketing and Programming function. During this time, he had the opportunity to help develop several TV channels including The Discovery Channel, E Entertainment and QVC. Upon the sale of United to Tele-Communications Inc., Nimrod became a partner with the Schneiders in United International Holdings Inc. (UIH) and together they focused on cable TV Greenfield investments, mostly in Europe. One of these investments was a joint venture between UIH, Time Warner and US West, called Kabelkom, which developed modern cable systems in Hungary while introducing HBO and Spektrum TV. Nimrod then was actively involved in the formation of another joint venture with Phillips called UPC. This company’s Central and Eastern European Arm, under Nimrod’s leadership, became the largest Cable TV operation in the region with 3 million customers encompassing Poland, the Check Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Romania.

Aside from his corporate responsibilities Nimrod has been a founding Board member of CTAM (Cable and Telecommunications Association for Marketing), which he also brought to Europe. 

In 2009, Nimrod retired from the corporate world to focus on his long-time passion, wines, and is now managing his winery in Eger, Hungary.

While he has worked in many locations around the world, he now spends the vast majority of his time in Budapest, Hungary. A peaceful man, he enjoys philanthropy, nature, and a good glass of wine. Aside from wines and food, Nimrod enjoys collecting art, including 19th century Hungarian paintings and 20th century international and Hungarian art effects. He likes to stay active and is also involved in a number of charities and spiritual groups including the World Servers Foundation. In 2005 he became a Knight of Hungary. Nimrod has three children: Tash, Briana and Hunter.

 

 

Robert A. Theleen
Class of 1970

Robert A. Theleen began his life-long involvement in Asia as an intelligence officer in the United States Government in Vietnam from 1967-1969, during the Vietnam War. Following business school, he returned to Asia as a young petroleum banker in 1972 with the largest bank in Texas, first in opening the Bank’s branches in Singapore, and then in Hong Kong. It was here he came into contact with China in 1976, as an advisor to China’s new Ministry of Petroleum in financing the exploration and development of China’s offshore oil reserves.

In 1980, along with his wife, Jenny Hsui, he started ChinaVest, and opened its first office in Beijing where he and Jenny developed some of the earliest relationships for US companies with Chinese Government Organizations. In 1981, ChinaVest, launched the first venture capital funds to invest in China. Over the past three decades, ChinaVest has invested more than $500 million in five sequential funds in Greater China. These funds launched, among other things, the first American logistics service company in China, the first offshore drilling platform to discover oil in the South China Sea, the first American petroleum service company in China, the first national internet system in China, the first modern distribution warehouse in the City of Beijing, the first modern American restaurant business in China, and many other pioneering investments.

Today, ChinaVest is a leading Merchant Bank, headquartered in Shanghai. ChinaVest is dedicated to serving the Mergers and Acquisitions requirements of many of America’s leading multinational companies in China. It is also an affiliate of San Francisco’s Wells Fargo Bank, where it provides financial and strategic advice in China to many of Wells Fargo’s leading corporate clients.

As an American pioneer in China, Bob’s work has yielded a number of unusual accomplishments, giving him a unique perspective on China’s large and growing economy. Twenty years ago, he became one of the first foreign independent board directors of a Chinese State-owned Corporation, Beijing Enterprises, the flagship holding company of the infrastructure of the City of Beijing, where he serves to this today.

In 2004-2007, he served as the only foreign member of a Chinese law-making task force to restructure portions of the Chinese financial services industry under the auspices of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). He has acted as an advisor to the China Banking Regulatory Commission, the Municipal Government of Shanghai, and with many other government agencies and regulators in China.

In addition to his professional work, he has served as a Trustee of San Francisco-headquartered Asia Foundation, the US Government’s NGO for Asian institutional development throughout East Asia. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of Thunderbird School of International Management and the Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai in 2011. He is also a member of the Pacific Council of Foreign Affairs. He regularly appears as a commentator on Bloomberg TV, the BBC and CNBC. He writes in various international publications on both China’s economy and on the financial services industry. He is a co-author of several books on China, including, CHINA’S GREAT CENTURY, a work which describes the achievements of China’s economic and social achievements since the reform movement in the 1970s. He was educated at Duquesne University, Johns Hopkins University, and, in 1970, at Thunderbird School of International Management.

He lives and works in Shanghai, China with his wife and partner, Jenny. They have one daughter who was born in Hong Kong and educated in Shanghai and San Francisco.

 

 
 
 
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