The Gies College of Business Alumni Association and Gies College of Business joined together at the Hyatt Regency Chicago to welcome nearly 1,000 alumni and friends of the College for the annual Spring Luncheon. This annual gathering provides an opportunity to recognize distinguished alumni and faculty for their achievements and service to Gies College of Business and the University of Illinois. Derrick Young BA ’90, traffic reporter at CBS 2 Chicago, served as master of ceremonies for the event.
Distinguished Alumna Award
This annual award recognizes graduates of Gies College of Business for their outstanding career achievements. This year’s award was present to Stephanie Cohen ’99 FIN.
Cohen serves as chief strategy officer and a member of the Partnership Committee for Goldman Sachs. In her role, she applies the skills gained over almost two decades at Goldman Sachs to focus on the firm’s long-term global strategy. Prior to assuming this role, she was global head of Financial Sponsor Mergers & Acquisitions in the Investment Banking Division (IBD). Before that, she was sector captain for General Industrials in the Global Industrials Group and a member of the Mergers & Acquisitions Group in IBD. In 2008, she managed Conflicts and Business Selection for IBD in the Americas. Prior to that, she was a vice president in the Industrials and Merger Leadership Groups in San Francisco. Earlier in her career, she worked in New York in the Mergers & Acquisitions Department. Stephanie joined Goldman Sachs as an analyst in 1999 and was named managing director in 2008 and partner in 2014.
Cohen is also involved in nonprofits focused on literacy and writing skills. She serves on the National Board of Directors of Reading Partners and as a member of the Board of Quill.org.
This award recognizes outstanding service to the Alumni Association and the College. This year’s recipient was Steven E. Shebik ’78 ACCY/FIN.
Steven Shebik is vice chairman of The Allstate Corporation and the Allstate Insurance Company and chief executive officer of Allstate Life Insurance Company. He oversees Allstate Life and Retirement, Allstate Benefits, Property-Casualty Alternative Segments, Finance, Corporate Business Transformation, and the corporate analytics team, D3.
Shebik has held numerous senior roles at Allstate during the past two decades, most recently as chief financial officer of The Allstate Corporation. He has been the interim chief investment officer and chief risk officer and has served as chief financial officer of Allstate Financial, Allstate Protection, and Allstate Investments. He previously held positions of increasing responsibility in treasury, mergers and acquisitions, acquisition integration, accounting and financial systems.
In addition to his Illinois degree, Shebik received an MBA in 1980 from the University of Chicago. He is a member of Financial Executives International, the American Institute of CPAs, and the Illinois CPA Society.
Excellence-in-Teaching Award for Undergraduate Teaching
Michael Kustanovich received the Excellence-in-Teaching Award for Undergraduate Teaching. He is a senior lecturer in the Department of Accountancy and a CPA. He received a bachelor’s degree in accounting and economics and a master’s degree in economics from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. Prior to joining the Department of Accountancy in 2013, he taught in different universities and worked in the assurance departments of KPMG and PwC. He is a co-author and editor of accounting textbooks and an author of many continued professional education (CPE) courses.
Currently, he teaches advanced financial accounting courses in both undergraduate and graduate curricula, and he is an instructor of the FAR and BEC sections of the CPA exam review course.
One of his students commented: “He went beyond teaching advanced financial accounting by giving students the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed on the CPA and as future accountants. He volunteered his time outside of class to help students review for the CPA at planned study sessions.”
Excellence-in-Teaching Award for Graduate Teaching
The Excellence-in-Teaching Award for Graduate Teaching award went to Gary Hecht. He is an associate professor in the Department of Accountancy. His research focuses in management accounting, and he has been published in such journals as The Accounting Review, Journal of Accounting Research, Contemporary Accounting Research, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He has taught a variety of management accounting courses, accounting analytics, and various PhD seminars. Over 60,000 students worldwide have attended Gary’s management accounting courses. He is currently teaching managerial accounting in both the iMBA and iMSA Programs, and is the academic director of the iMSA Program.
One of his students commented: “Hecht has an excellent command on the subject. He has completely piqued my interest in managerial accounting. I am more interested in deepening my knowledge in this topic than what I had at the beginning of this course.”
Excellence-in-Teaching Award for Teaching Assistance
The Excellence-in-Teaching Award for Teaching Assistance went to Spyros Lagaras, a PhD student in the Department of Finance researching mergers and acquisitions activity in Brazil. During his time at Illinois he has served as an instructor in FIN 221: Introduction to Corporate Finance. He was named to the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students every semester that he has taught this course. He creates a dynamic and interactive classroom environment and has shown excellent ability to break down difficult concepts in a clear and understandable way.
In 2015 he received the Richard D. and Anne Marie Irwin Fellowship, and in 2016 he received the Paul M. Van Arsdell Sr. Teaching Award in Finance.
One of his students commented: “He is the best TA I have ever had in the university. He loves the subject he teaches and is always ready to help his students.”
The keynote address was given by Mark Bartelstein ’82 BA, who is CEO of Priority Sports and Entertainment, a company that he founded in 1985 and that has grown to be the leading independently owned agency representing professional athletes. He shared stories and insights on dealing with high-profile clients from his more than 30 years in the industry.