Q&A with the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Martin Luther King, Jr. (GRS’55, Hon.’59) once observed, “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.” In this spirit, MET’s Distinguished Alumni Awards honor outstanding alumni who inspire us by example of their service.

MET honors two distinguished alumni—Mr. Douglas Chamberlain (MET’74, GSM’76) and Ms. Kimberly Grant (MET’10) for their service to profession. Read our Q&A with each of this year’s award recipients.

Select one of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award recipients to find out more about his or her unique and inspiring story.

  1. MET Distinguished Alumni Douglas Chamberlain

    Service to Profession Douglas Chamberlain (MET’74, GSM’76)

    Mr. Chamberlain is the president and CEO of Appleton Partners, Inc. and founder of Appleton and Cambridge Appleton Trust N.A.

  2. MET Distinguished Alumni Kimberly Grant

    Service to Profession Kimberly Grant (MET’10)

    Ms. Grant was recently promoted to president and chief operations officer of Ruby Tuesday.

Douglas Chamberlain

Service to Profession

“Giving back is an essential element of a successful career. In my personal view, it's a further step towards self-actualization and personal wellbeing.”

Chamberlain earned his Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Business Administration from MET and a Master of Business Administration degree at BU’s Graduate School of Management. Chamberlain serves on Appleton’s Fixed Income and Equity Investment Committees and chairs its Planning Policy Committee. He also sits on the various boards of the Franciscan Hospital for Children, Bay Cove Human Services, Opera Boston, and the Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Museum.

Metropolitan: Why did you choose to earn your bachelor’s at MET? Did that influence your decision to return to BU to pursue your master’s?

During my undergraduate years, I was working full time to help support my parents and sister. My father had been suffering from a long illness and was forced to close down a business that had been owned by the family for over 90 years. MET provided the opportunity to continue with my college education while working. I very much enjoyed my MET experience: the faculty, the breadth of course selection, and the flexibility of the MET curriculum. It was ideal for me. After I graduated from MET with a BAS, I was very much interested in furthering my education in business. So, with the benefit of my MET experience, I immediately applied to the BU Graduate School of Management MBA program upon graduation.

In what ways has your BU education influenced the trajectory of your career?

The depth of my academic experience, as both a BU undergrad and graduate, offered a strong foundation for my career in the investment business. When I graduated from BU’s MBA program, I was employed as an equity analyst at a large bank. By this time, I had obtained a basic grounding and practical experience in finance and investments, so I elected to continue on with my formal business education by enrolling in the CFA Institute’s CFA Program. My BU experience was instrumental in helping me prepare for the CFA Program and a successful career in the investment industry.

What is your message to the MET graduates this year?

I’m very excited for the graduating class at MET. In my estimation, they already have a huge advantage having worked full-time (in many cases) while managing the rigors of a challenging degree program. Upon graduation, MET students are well prepared to elevate their professional goals and ambitions to the highest possible level. I personally believe MET graduates have a true advantage by already having balanced their jobs and profession with the demands of their education—not an easy task in this day and age. But it’s that same dedication and tenacity that will benefit our MET graduates greatly in the years to come. They’ve worked very hard to earn their degrees, and have a wonderfully bright future. My hope is that they never lose sight of their career vision or ambitions.

What does your role as president and CEO of Appleton Partners entail?

In the broad corporate sense, my position as president and CEO of Appleton entails all aspects of managing a leading investment management organization. Strategic business positioning, corporate budget plans, marketing, product development, investment policy, and portfolio investment strategy are just some of my corporate and technical responsibilities. However, the area that I believe to be most crucial to our ongoing success is the ability to attract and maintain stellar intellectual resources. Professional intellectual capital is the heart of the investment business. The investment industry depends on experienced professional talent at all levels. It’s the true asset base of any successful investment company. That said, my greatest responsibility and contribution to the company is to continually build and nurture our human resources.

You are receiving an award for service to profession. Can you describe some ways in which you have been able to serve—within your industry or externally?

As we discussed, investment industry requires experienced, well-educated and collaborative human resource assets. Thus continuing education is a critical element in the success of any investment management organization. We’ve always been strong advocates of continuing education. Approximately two thirds of our professional staff have graduate degrees in business, are CFAs (Chartered Financial Analysts), or both. Some years ago, I was asked by my colleagues at the School of Management to help conceptualize and create what was to become the country’s first master’s of Investment Management (MSIM) program. With the commitment and leadership of the finance faculty, we accomplished this. In doing so, BU was later designated the first program partner of the CFA Institute in the U.S. That, of course, was quite an honor. For many years, I served as chair of the Faculty Advisory Board for the School of Management’s MSIM program, which was later melded into the MBA program. At Appleton, we’re a bit BU-centric, as approximately 25 percent of our employees are BU grads. My involvement in industry education continues on directly and indirectly through various industry associations. We feel that it’s a vital responsibility for industry leadership to support continuing education.

I’ve held miscellaneous board roles and directorships: board member and former board chair of the Franciscan Hospital for Children; former chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee for the MSIM program at BU’s School of Management; advocacy board member of Bay Cove Human Services; advocacy board member of Codman Square Health Center; advisory board member of Chamberlain Museum, Brunswick, Maine; corporator of Cambridge Savings Bank; founder and board member of Cambridge Appleton Trust, NA; and founder and board member of Appleton Partners, Inc.

As a prominent professional, how would you advise budding entrepreneurs and managers?

Take control of your destiny, map out a strategy, and nurture your ambitions. When I advise our managers, mentor students, or offer guidance to entrepreneurs, I always stress the business importance and benefit of collaborative team structure. I think we all realize some of the very best conceived products and service ideas actually never make it to the marketplace, or ultimately fail, because of poor sponsorship or ineffective management support. On the other hand, I find it interesting that products and services with only marginal benefits and advantages can succeed—often because of superior marketing and managerial support. In our world, the sharing of ideas and information—what we call the “friction of friendly minds”—exercises the advantages and power of collective thought. We actively encourage our managers to share their ideas, suggestions, and to develop their business plans in a collective, comprehensive group process. We share a unified vision, a team energy, and commitment to each other that serves to keep us in the forefront of our industry.

To an audience of alumni, faculty, and students, what would you say about “giving back?”

Giving back is an essential element of a successful career. In my personal view, it’s a further step towards self-actualization and personal well-being. As part of our professional wealth management services at API, we counsel our clients as well as our management team on giving: not just giving in the financial sense, but of their personal and professional time. Guidance in developing leaders in corporate and personal giving is an essential factor in professional success. We’ve incorporated this into our management process. We choose a worthy cause or calling, contribute our time, financial resources, and professional assistance. Counseling young entrepreneurs, creating scholarships, and developing specialty degree programs are some of the many ways we’ve chosen to give back. In the investment industry, we recognize that education is a critical variable with a successful career. In addition to our corporate financial support, we believe the commitment of our personal time and energy to industry education is a responsibility we’re all happy to share.

View Mr. Chamberlain’s Commencement address to this year’s graduates.

Kimberly Grant (MET’10)

Service to Profession

Kimberly Grant received the Distinguished Alumni Award for Service to Profession

“I would encourage everyone to find a way to give back to people or causes they are personally passionate about—because when you are passionate about something, the time you dedicate to those activities can seem almost effortless, and there is no better immediate gratification.”

Ms. Grant was recently promoted to president and chief operations officer of Ruby Tuesday.

When Metropolitan previously interviewed Ms. Grant in the Winter 2011 issue, she was EVP of the restaurant chain and had just earned her MS in Banking & Financial Services Management from MET. Prior to that, she received her bachelor’s in hotel and restaurant management from Thomas Edison State College, and participated in an executive education program at Harvard Business School. Grant serves on the Metropolitan College Dean’s Advisory Board and is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization.

Metropolitan: We last spoke with you in 2011, just after you had finished your MS in Banking & Financial Services. You were serving as executive vice president of Ruby Tuesday. What happened since then?

After five years as EVP/COO, I was promoted to president and COO of Ruby Tuesday Concept in August 2012. Our CEO and Board of Directors at the time wanted to recognize my contributions to the company as a successful senior executive, with more than a decade of experience in my role as COO, and as the key person responsible for leading the day-to-day activities for the Ruby Tuesday brand.

In what ways has your BU education influenced the trajectory of your career?

As a senior executive, I have a strong orientation in both operations and finance. In 2008, I wanted to strengthen my financial acumen by completing the BU Master of Science in Banking & Financial Services Management program. As I was already an accomplished executive, I did not necessarily need the degree in order to advance. However, I strongly believed that the academic experience would broaden my capabilities, compliment my on-the-job experience, and allow me to contribute at an even higher level from a strategic point of view with my CEO and Board of Directors.

You are receiving an award for service to profession. Can you describe some ways in which you have been able to serve—within your industry or externally?

This year, I will be celebrating my twenty-first anniversary with Ruby Tuesday. Throughout my career, I was greatly influenced by our founder and CEO, Sandy Beall, a gracious man who takes great pleasure in helping young leaders learn and grow. Very early on, he believed in my leadership potential and constantly provided opportunities for me to explore, learn, and grow as a leader. I believe the best way I can, and do, serve my industry is to “pay it forward” by helping the next generation of leaders maximize their potential as well. I get tremendous personal satisfaction in mentoring young leaders within the Ruby Tuesday family, as well as acting as a resource to students of management and various up-and-coming entrepreneurs within the hospitality industry.

Was there an “a-ha” moment when you realized the importance of engaging with your profession and making a difference?

I have been afforded the unique opportunity to be a part of something very special for 20 years and counting. During that time, I have seen some amazing personal transformations—watching our key people (and myself) grow from being managers of things to leaders of people. I am really proud to be a part of establishing and encouraging our company’s leadership values—seeing first-hand the differences that we are making each and every day for our 35,000 team members around the country.

Do you have a vision for how Ruby Tuesday, as a brand, is perceived by the public? How about by peers in the restaurant world?

As a forty-year-old brand, Ruby Tuesday is not the new kid on the block any more, but we have an army of brand advocates in over 700 locations in communities all over the country. We are constantly faced with the challenge of remaining true to our past while constantly looking for ways to evolve and stay relevant with the ever-changing consumer. It is a delicate balance, but my hope is that our guests and team members perceive our brand to provide a consistent, high-quality dining experience that they can count on. Guests have so many choices today, and we want them to count on our brand for great food, sincere service, and a fun and lively atmosphere, all at a great price.

To an audience of alumni, faculty, and students, what would you say about “giving back?”

Each person should give back in the way that makes them feel the best. I would encourage everyone to find a way to give back to people or causes they are personally passionate about—because when you are passionate about something, the time you dedicate to those activities can seem almost effortless, and there is no better immediate gratification.