OpEx Awards: Meet the judges

An influential panel of industry experts from across three regions assessed the relative merits of the submissions.


University of Chicago Booth

Steven Neil Kaplan is the Neubauer Family Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. His research focuses on private equity, venture capital, entrepreneurial finance, corporate governance and corporate finance. He is co-creator of the Kaplan-Schoar PME (Public Market Equivalent) private equity benchmarking approach. A Fortune article referred to him as “probably the foremost private equity scholar in the galaxy”. He co-founded the entrepreneurship programme at Booth, helping start its business plan competition, the New Venture Challenge.

Alvarez & Marsal

Michael McKenna is a managing director of Alvarez & Marsal’s Private Equity Performance Improvement group. He works with private equity investors across the transaction life cycle to identify and execute transactions, accelerate portfolio company performance and provide a smooth investment exit. His primary area of focus is finance operations, driving improvements in working capital management, accounting and treasury operations, and reporting and analytics.

Joncarlo Mark

Upwelling Capital Group

Joncarlo Mark is the founder of Upwelling Capital Group, a registered investment advisor that provides advisory and capital solutions to institutional private equity investors. Prior to forming Upwelling in 2011, he was a senior portfolio manager at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, where he was responsible for investing in global private equity partnerships and direct investments, with a portfolio that exceeded $48 billion of exposure. In addition, from 2007 to 2010, Mark served as chairman of the board for the Institutional Limited Partners Association.


Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Veronique Lafon-Vinais is associate professor of business education at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, where she is associate director of both the undergraduate and World Bachelor in Business programmes, and a project director of the MSc in Global Finance programme. Lafon-Vinais is a seasoned financial market professional with over 20 years of banking and capital markets experience. She has worked in all the major financial markets and has extensive experience in all major debt markets.


Lian Hoon Lim is a managing director with AlixPartners. He has 24 years of experience in all aspects of operations improvement, including sales and distribution, manufacturing, procurement, product development, overall supply chain management and transportation operations. He has consulted to the automotive, electronics, consumer goods and chemicals industries and held management positions in electronics, shipping and logistics industries in South-East Asia and Greater China.

McKinsey & Company

Ivo Naumann is a partner with McKinsey & Company where he leads the Recovery and Transformation Services practice in Greater China. Naumann has more than 20 years of experience in supporting shareholders and management to restructure and drastically improve performance of underperforming businesses in Asia. He has acted in multiple interim management roles and served on various boards of director for companies in China, Japan and South-East Asia.



Miles Graham is an operating partner at Metro, a €37 billion revenue, Frankfurt-listed food wholesale business that has adopted a private equity-style operating model. He has been in private equity for 20 years, serving as president of 3i portfolio company John Hardy, which he restructured and sold to L Catterton, and was director and head of active partnerships at 3i Group, where he oversaw improvements across a $6 billion portfolio of 100 companies. He spent five years in McKinsey & Company’s private equity practice, and is a non-executive director of Age Checked and the Operating Partners Group.

Ludovic Phalippou

University of Oxford

Ludovic Phalippou is lecturer in finance at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. He specialises in private equity funds and focuses on issues such as risk management, liquidity and measurement of returns. Phalippou’s research in this area has been published in leading academic and practitioner journals such as The Journal of Finance, The Review of Financial Studies and the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Katja Salovaara


Katja Salovaara has been a senior PE portfolio manager at Ilmarinen since January 2000. Ilmarinen is a mutual pension insurer based in Helsinki, managing €39 billion. Currently 6 percent of the assets are invested in private equity. Before joining Ilmarinen, Salovaara worked at the Shell UK Pension Fund in London analysing private equity funds and monitoring a global private equity portfolio with over $1 billion of commitments. Prior to that, she was an investment analyst in the European team at private equity specialists Pantheon Ventures.

Antoon Schneider

Boston Consulting Group

Antoon Schneider is a senior partner at The Boston Consulting Group and leads the Principal Investors & Private Equity practice in London. He has advised leading principal investors and more than half of the 50 largest private equity firms globally on a range of deal sourcing, due diligence and firm strategy projects. He has also worked extensively with their portfolio companies on 100-day value-creation planning and operational improvement projects, and has deep experience in corporate strategy and M&A.



Large-cap: The Carlyle Group – Vogue International
Upper mid-market: Cerberus Capital Management – Bowlmor AMF
Lower mid-market: Francisco Partners – Paymetric
Small-cap: The Riverside Company – YourMembership

Large-cap: Partners Group and Capvis – VAT Group
Upper mid-market: EQT – Faerch Plast
Lower mid-market: Gilde Equity Management – Banketgroep
Small-cap: YFM Equity Partners – GO Outdoors

Upper mid-market: ShawKwei & Partners – YongLe Tape
Lower mid-market: Advantage Partners – Hisense Broadband Multimedia Technologies*
Small-cap: Mekong Capital – Mobile World

*Hisense is not included in the write-ups due to confidentiality issues