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A Guiding Force by Gary W. McKillips

A Guiding Force by Gary W. McKillips

Tom Body
Tom Body
Man in Motion: Body Reenergizes Board

When Tom Body became chairman of the Board of Advisors he declared early on that he was going to make changes. Within the first few months, he organized several new committees, increased attendance, added members, and restructured the format of the meetings. And that was just the beginning.

A serial entrepreneur who has started countless companies over the past 25 years, Body has boundless energy.

Currently serving as the chairman of his latest company, WIREFREE Partners, LLC, Body also co-founded American Mobilephone Paging, Maxicom, Inc., CellularOne, Metrex Corporation, and AirGate PCS, Inc., among others. In addition, he serves as a member of the Board of Directors for both Strata 8 Networks and the Atlanta Enterprise Center. Body looks at the College's Board of Advisors as he does his corporate boards. "The College is a business and we need to help the College make good business decisions."

But the board of a college also has a broader mission. "It needs to be the link between the college and the business community, support the dean and faculty, help find resources to support programs, and assist in raising the brand of the college."

Body has created a variety of initiatives, including one on branding and some that have the potential of influencing curriculum. While it is not the role of the board to create new courses, the board can make the dean and others aware of new trends in business. Two of the areas of most interest to Body are disaster recovery, a pressing need in the business community, and corporate governance on an international level.

Body also did something for the college that was most exceptional for a board chair. At the request of Dean Fenwick Huss, he accepted a speaking engagement in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Body was very well received in Dubai. He became known as "Mr. Thomas" and was even given the opportunity to don native garb during his visit. As an ambassador for the college, he served to enhance an already existing relationship between Robinson and UAE University.

While Body's two-year term of duty officially ended in August, he agreed to stay on until January, 2009, to allow his successor, Pete Petit, time to transition into a new business. In the meantime he says he still has "a laundry list of things he wants to do." And with his record of success, there is little doubt that this man in motion will get them done.

Pete Petit
Pete Petit
New Board Chair Has International Focus

Pete Petit (MBA '73) has turned in one chairman's hat. Now he's about to don another.

Petit, who recently retired as chairman of the board of Matria Healthcare, will become the new chair of the Robinson College Board of Advisors.

"The level of activity of the head of any public company makes it difficult to find the time to do things you
would like to do to support your community. I've wanted to play a bigger role with the Robinson College for
a long time, and my retirement from Matria now makes that possible."

Petit's desire to play a bigger role stems largely from his experience as a student at Robinson and from the respect he has for the mission and vision of the College.

Although he holds two degrees from Georgia Tech, Petit says that his Georgia State MBA made the difference in his ability to run a successful company. "Healthdyne (Petit's first company and one he built to revenues in excess of $600 million) started as a medical technology business, and while I wasn't an electrical engineer– I was a mechanical engineer– I had a pretty good concept of how to develop products. What I didn't know was how to develop the capital structure associated with running a prosperous business. My education at the Robinson College, specializing in Finance, was really important from that standpoint." He is now launching his own private equity firm, the Petit Group, to be housed in Alpharetta.

Petit has kept a close eye on the College over the years. "Robinson has been extremely important to the business community," he said. "Our business school, and the national rankings verify what I'm saying, has had a wonderful impact on business careers associated with this area."

While Petit thinks the College has accomplished much, he is not one to let the school rest on its laurels. He says today "there's an international focus on academics. Many emerging countries now realize the importance of education. I believe that the Board of Advisors can have a big influence on extending the College's outreach even further."

He added, "The Robinson College and Georgia State University have tremendous assets and a tremendous footprint in a very dynamic city. With the members of our board, I plan to do everything possible to build on these resources and help the College become not only a tremendous asset to this region, but a premier institution that influences business education around the world."