MICHAEL A. SCHARF
Michael is an expert at structuring the deal. Over the course of his career, Michael has been part of teams responsible for billions in transactions. He has partnering with, and faced off against, some of the biggest names on Wall Street.
As a corporate executive, Michael spent 20 years in the financial services industry working with companies as varied as Experian, AOL Beneficial Finance, American Express, Great Western Bank, First Interstate Bancorp and as an advisor to Visa USA
Since leaving the corporate world, Michael has founded or led companies in a variety of sectors including telecommunications, entertainment, and technology.
Like every other entrepreneur, some companies created better outcomes than others, but every transaction created value for both buyer and seller.
An accomplished business and brand builder, Michael has built his investment banking practice around creating and closing transactions for emerging and mid-size companies. Obtaining capital, finding and creating strategic partnerships, each transaction is fully evaluated, promoted, and negotiated.
“Entrepreneurs have been so instrumental in the improvement of everyone's lives that being involved with an organization like Growthink that assists entrepreneurs is an honor.”
As a member of Growthink’s Strategic Board of Advisors, Barry Fay brings high levels of strategic thinking, intelligence, positive attitude and team building to deliver optimal results to growing companies.
From 1992 to 2010, Barry was with Aqua-Flo Supply, which is a leading distributor of irrigation supplies and landscape products. Aqua-Flo has seven branches in the California counties of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara. Barry served as President from 2000 to 2010 and he led the company’s 900% growth over a fifteen year period while maintaining above industry average profitability. Barry was involved in all aspects of the company including operations, strategy, purchasing, sales, personnel, central control, quoting and pricing. Aqua-Flo was awarded numerous awards including the National Distributor of the Year award from Weathermatic in 2008. In 2007, 2008 and 2009, Barry served as a judge for the New Product of the Year contest put on by the Irrigation Association, which is the international trade association.
Barry received his MBA from The Anderson School at UCLA and earned his BBA from the University of Notre Dame where he graduated Summa Cum Laude.
Barry has served as a judge in national and local collegiate business plan competitions. He has been involved with numerous local organizations, primarily in youth sports. Barry has been a member of YPO (Young Presidents Organization) since 2000 and has served two terms as the Santa Barbara Chapter chair. He has made numerous investments in emerging companies. His interests include travel and many sports. Barry lives with his wife and four children in Montecito, California.
"The passion with which Growthink pursues its mission makes me want to see them realize their dream: to spread entrepreneurial opportunity everywhere it can make a difference for a person, within a market, and for society."
A member of Growthink’s Advisory Board, Jim Hartley brings to this role an extensive background in consulting engineering management and community board leadership.
In 30 years of consulting environmental engineering, Jim has established teams to serve local communities in San Diego, Los Angeles and Sacramento; as the Area Manager for CH2M HILL in Sacramento, Jim doubled the size of the office in 6 years (135 to 258) and reduced morale-based turnover to a new corporate benchmark.
Jim has also served as CH2M HILL’s California Governmental Affairs Director, and as the Program Manager for the largest utility client in his firm’s portfolio. Jim currently serves as a Principal Environmental Technologist, mentoring staff and directing teams addressing underground contamination over four continents. In 2006 Jim was named a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
In the northern California community, Jim is helping to lead the effort to bring a future Winter Olympic Games back to Lake Tahoe. He is active in his local area, serving as a Science Olympiad Coach, on the Editorial Board of Comstock’s Business magazine, and as a cantor and lector at his church. He also serves as an alumni volunteer for Stanford University, supporting the Haas Center for Public Service and the Undergraduate Admissions Office, and serving as an Alumni Mentor for engineering students.
Jim earned a M.Eng. degree in Civil Engineering from U.C. Berkeley, and graduated τβπ and φβκ in Civil Engineering and Italian from Stanford University. He lives in Fair Oaks, CA with his wife; their two children are in college.
"I really value the role that entrepreneurs play in building a growing, sustainable economy. It is the entrepreneurs who bring innovation to fruition. Growthink plays a key role in working with entrepreneurs to support, guide and help them realize their potential as viable businesses. Growthink understands how best to work with start-ups and provide valuable business tools as they develop past the initial phases of their business. I believe in investing in the future through involvement with companies like Growthink."
As a member of Growthink’s Strategic Board of Advisors, Linda Mayer brings a rich background of leading companies to transform business and organizational structures. Linda has been transforming organizations to improve business results for over 25 years. With her unique ability to understand consumer behavior, she develops strategic plans to drive and meet demand. Demonstrating success in both privately and publicly held companies in consumer, industrial, and OEM products, she is consistently sought after to transform organizations.
Most recently, Linda served as the Vice President and General Manager for Global Marketing and Product Management of Genie, a $2.1 billion (2008) division of TEREX. In that capacity, she restructured the global leadership of the division and implemented an inventory management system and promotional incentives that reduced finished goods inventory 65% and maintained positive cash flow during the economic downturn. Linda has also held executive level positions with well-regarded brands such as Moen, John Deere, Rexnord Industries, Brilliant Imaging and Kohler.
Linda’s career began as an International Economist with the U.S. Treasury Department. She earned an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania where she authored a manual on starting and operating a business. She also holds a Masters of Art from Johns Hopkins University in advanced international studies and a Bachelors degree from Stanford University.
Linda has served on numerous corporate boards including CTP Products, a division of MTD, Connor Sport Court International, and Ann Sacks Tile and Stone. In addition, she served on the board of Kids In Need, a Cleveland, Ohio based non-profit and has been an active volunteer of Agros International.
Ross Meador is a lawyer, entrepreneur, investor, teacher and philanthropist.
Now an internationally recognized authority on business and law, Mr. Meador’s career began in Vietnam in 1974 when he went alone to Saigon to open the wartime office for a child welfare organization, FCVN. The story of his evacuation from the roof of the American Embassy in Saigon has been told in several books and screenplays, and his organization has been nominated twice for the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Mr. Meador has practiced with leading law firms in the US, Korea, Indonesia and Vietnam. He spent 13 years with Morrison & Foerster and until recently was a partner at Preston Gates & Ellis (the firm founded by Bill Gates Sr.). He is currently the Managing Partner of Meador & Engle in Anaheim Hills, California, and Counsel to Kirin Law International in San Francisco and Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam.
Mr. Meador’s practice is focused on the legal issues faced by technology entrepreneurs, their companies and the organizations that finance them. On the investor side, Ross has closed deals for well known Silicon Valley and East Coast venture capital and private equity investors. On the company side, Ross has led financing and corporate transactions for many companies, from startup to large multinationals.
Mr. Meador graduated from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. He serves as Advisor Emeritus to the Executive Committee of the International Law Section at the California Bar Association, and formerly served as Vice Chair of the US Vietnam Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the Legal Services Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea and President of the Korean American Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco. Mr. Meador is listed in Who’s Who in American Law, Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who in the World.
“I’m proud to be invited to join Growthink’s Board of Advisors. I’ve been associated with entrepreneurs for most of my career from both an academic and a practical viewpoint. Entrepreneurs have drive and a will to succeed that captures your imagination. Growthink is both an entrepreneurially driven company as well as one that assists other entrepreneurs in realizing their dreams. It’s an exciting opportunity for me to see entrepreneurship in action while enabling me to be a contributor to Growthink’s promising future.”
As a member of Growthink’s Strategic Board of Advisors, Al Portnoy brings a significant background in operations, finance, investment management, investment banking and entrepreneurship. He has served as an executive in finance and operating roles for over twenty years. Some of his notable roles include past Director of Taco Bell; Chief Operating Officer of Kayne Anderson Investment Management; Executive Vice President-Finance for Shappell Industries, a publicly-held, Southern California residential homebuilder; and Chief Operating Officer for HS Group, a publicly-held operator of premium winegrape vineyards located on the Central Coast of California.
Al’s volunteer activities include serving as past President of SCORE - Los Angeles, a national organization, which assists start-ups and early-stage companies and mentoring graduate students at the UCLA Anderson School of Management and the USC Marshall School of Business interested in entrepreneurship.
Al is a Chartered Financial Analyst and holds a BBA from Baruch School of Business and has attended the Columbia Graduate School of Business and Loyola Law School.
Why did I join Growthink? Simple, I now access a collective experience and global reach across boards, disciplines, and business verticals. I have one goal: “helping business owners of all sizes realize their full potential by reducing time and energy to achieve stated outcomes and transactions." Robert Schwenk
As a member of Growthink’s Strategic Board of Advisors,
Robert Schwenk brings over 30 years of strategic thinking, creative innovator, governmental relations, investor relations, entrepreneurial - been there done that, and growth consulting expertise from a variety of industries.
Robert currently serves as CDBG city commissioner for Huntington Beach. In this role, I lead efforts to identify and develop new solutions fighting for women’s rights and financial development helping transitioning from a mindset of “Handout to a Hand-up.
Prior to joining GT Securities, Robert has worked for large financial banks, corporate America, become an entrepreneur with two CRM S/W companies started and sold, transitioned to SEC investor relations working with public relations and lobbyist to achieve client goals, only to bring a wealth of experience to investment banking clients.
Robert attended ENMU studying computer science and business finance. Robert Schwenk currently lives in Huntington Beach, CA with his wife Marcie.
"The Growthink team is passionate about helping businesses of all sizes realize their full potential and approaches this mission with both creativity and analytical diligence. I am very much looking forward to both contributing to and learning from this dynamic group of entrepreneurs."
As a member of Growthink’s Strategic Board of Advisors, Mathew Segal brings over 20 years of strategic thinking, entrepreneurial know-how and growth consulting expertise from a variety of industries.
“ I am delighted to be working with such a bright and talented group of people. I look forward to gaining more exposure to Growthink’s network to further all of our entrepreneurial interests.”
A member of Growthink’s Advisory Board, Dave Shevock brings to this role an extensive background in marketing and business strategy combined with true thought leadership from the technology industry.
Dave has more than 18 years of experience with entrepreneurial technology companies focusing on sales, marketing, product management and operations. Most recently, he served as senior vice president of sales and marketing for DecisionStep, Inc. (Buy.com). Truly a serial entrepreneur, he has also been part of the executive growth team for Subimo (WebMD), Pictage (Apax Partners) and Trividia Corporation (ValueClick).
Dave holds an MBA in marketing from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and BA in economics from the University of Michigan.