Even a research lab known for its innovation can get set in its ways.
Just ask Jerry Wohletz. After leading the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory in Cambridge for a year, the aerospace executive is ready to mix things up a bit. Last week, he unveiled his plans for what he calls “Draper NXT” to position Draper for growth over the next decade. The nonprofit government contractor brought in $658 million in revenue last year, mostly from government agencies. Wohletz wants to invest more in the business, from renovating older labs and offices to replacing systems for finance, sales, human relations, and the like. For all its smarts, Draper has lagged its rivals in terms of routine business tools, Wohletz said.
During a presentation to celebrate Draper’s 50th year as an independent organization and 90 years since its inception within MIT, Wohletz drew upon the many important milestones in history in which Draper played a role. Landing a man on the moon. Guiding jet flights. Using an “organ on a chip” for COVID-19 research.
“[But] Draper can’t simply focus on the past,” Wohletz said. “It has to focus on the future. … People feel constrained because of the inefficiencies that exist in the business today.”
Wohletz is also broadening the leadership team by bringing former colleagues from defense contractor BAE Systems, where he previously worked. Examples include Julia MacDonough, who recently became Draper’s vice president of space systems, and Suzanne Jones, who joined as vice president of business winning, a newly created role to run point on bidding for federal government contracts.
The 1,800-person nonprofit specializes in guidance, navigation, and control technology. Its big markets include nuclear missiles, military jets, and space flight. Draper also gets revenue from the electronics sector, as well as from life sciences. Wohletz was hired a year ago to take over for William LaPlante, who had left to become a defense undersecretary in the Biden administration. One attraction: Wohletz was already living here and did not have to uproot his family for the position.
“My job as a CEO is to make sure I position this laboratory not just to continue this for the next decade, but for another 90 years,” Wohletz said. “This requires us to modernize this innovation factory.”
MullenLowe’s new look turns heads
Never underestimate the power of a good hoodie.
That’s one lesson to be learned, chief executive Kristen Cavallo said, from MullenLowe’s redesign of the ad agency’s octopus logo. The original debuted in January 2016: an octopus with boxing gloves taking up a fighting stance, to highlight the firm’s eight different business lines.
MullenLowe just unveiled a more abstract-looking cephalopod, with fluid lines and no real detail. Cavallo said it’s a look that’s bold and modern enough to turn heads in airports when she wears a sweatshirt adorned with it. This octopus was designed by an in-house team led by João Paz, MulenLowe’s head of design. It’s meant to reflect the adaptive nature of the octopus, head of strategy Ellie Gogan-Tilstone said, and how great brands often need to transform themselves to survive. Nothing is sacred, not even the logo itself: Employees can choose to personalize it for their own e-mail signatures and social media accounts by picking from a variety of iterations — some that don’t look much like an octopus at all.
Cavallo said the fresh design has captivated clients and job recruits, and even people who don’t work for MullenLowe want to buy the hoodie.
“You always hold your breath when you bring a redesign out into the world,” Cavallo said. “[But] there’s a sense of renewed energy … and pride, to be honest.”
Bipartisanship at the Kennedy compound
When Adam Hinds left the state Senate to become CEO of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate last year, one early goal was to turn the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port into a “Camp David” of sorts for Congress. It’s a high-profile asset for the institute — Vicki Kennedy donated the house more than a decade ago — but only rented out for occasional events.
Now, that vision is starting to come to fruition. Ten former US senators, five from each party, gathered at the house over the first weekend of June to discuss how partisanship affects the Senate. The event, co-sponsored with the McCain Institute, was the first of what’s being billed a series of “Hyannis Port Summits.”
“They were focused on how today’s political division is negatively impacting the Senate and its ability to find solutions,” Hinds said. “They all agreed [that the event] taking place in a historically significant location really helped to focus minds at this moment in our history.”
The Hyannis Port confab was also part of a broader effort by the EMK Institute board, led by chair Bruce Percelay, to instill bipartisanship in the broader civil discourse, and in the US Senate in particular. Along those lines, senators Jeanne Shaheen and Joni Ernst came to the EMK Institute in Dorchester to debate last week as part of the “Senate Project” series.
“We clearly demonstrated the power of the compound as a meeting place, where President Kennedy decided to put a man on the moon and where the president also debated solutions to the Cuban Missile Crisis,” Percelay said. ‘We view it as a venue where we too can create history.”
For Martin, this Father’s Day closes a chapter
By day, Kevin P. Martin Jr. works as an accountant. On weekends, he’s a deacon at St. Agatha in Milton. And now, a third job title: book author.
Martin’s book, “All Is Well: Life Lessons from a Preacher’s Father,” gets released on Tuesday. It’s a reflection of Martin’s professional and personal connections with his father. Not long after Martin’s father died from ALS in 2019, Martin started writing a journal to cope with the grief and to get his memories down on paper for his four children. His charity work and other activities slowed in the early days of the pandemic, allowing him more time to write.
“I realized there were themes in there, and the themes turned into chapters, and unknowingly, a book was born,” Martin said.
He hired an agent to market the concept, and an editor helped him expand the book by about a third. Skyhorse Publishing eventually picked it up, with Simon & Schuster handling distribution. Martin is donating all profits to ALS-related charities.
Martin had been running his father’s eponymous accounting business for more than a decade before CohnReznick acquired it in late 2021. Martin always knew he might want to write a book, but had thought it would be more focused on entrepreneurship. The right idea, though, never quite materialized — until now.
“I think it’s like falling in love: When you’re looking too hard, you don’t find it,” Martin said. “This was the right topic, and here we are.”
Rooney takes the stage at City Winery
Everyone from Art Garfunkel to Melissa Etheridge has stepped to the mike on the City Winery stage since the place opened in 2017.
Then, it was Jim Rooney’s turn.
The chief executive of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce wasn’t there to give a concert. But he did threaten to hold one as he tried to quiet down the room, so he could bring Senate President Karen Spilka to the stage at a chamber meeting last Thursday.
As the sold-out crowd continued their hobnobbing, Rooney tried to usher everyone to their seats. Because of the venue, he said he felt like he should break into song.
“You would quiet right down once I did that,” Rooney told the audience.
That seemed to hush up the crowd. Whether it was out of politeness or fear of hearing Rooney go a capella, it wasn’t quite clear.