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What You Don't Know About This Year's Hall of Famers

Washington DC Tech

The Washington Business Hall of Fame inducted four people last night. We talked to them this week to see what it's like to be hall of famous.

Peter Barris


Title: Managing general partner, New Enterprise Associates
Business: VC firm that’s invested in several tech firms, including Groupon, CareerBuilder and TiVo.
Interest in tech: Father was an engineer and ended up studying engineering in college. While working at GE out of business school, saw that most exciting careers were in high-growth, disruptive industries like tech. 
Career highlights: While No. 2 guy at UCCEL Corp., helped lead transformation for moribund company to high flyer that sold for $900M, a record breaking transaction in 1987; president of Morino Associates and led merger with Duquesne Systems and eventually Legent; growing NEA into top-tier venture firm.
Business lesson: It’s more valuable to make speedy decisions rather than waiting to make the perfect decision. 
Grew up: Chicago
Why DC: Asked by Morino Associates founder Mario Morino to be its first president.
First job: Parking lot attendant in Youngstown, OH. 
Daily habit: Washington Post sports section and NYT business section.
Favorite restaurant: Nostos (Vienna).
Family: Married 38 years to Adrienne; two adult daughters – both live in NYC, one recently engaged and works as school teacher and other works for startup called Yext.
Free time: Serve as vice chair of alma mater, Northwestern; ski and golf.

Sudhakar Kesavan


Title: Chairman/CEO, ICF International and Northern Virginia Tech Council chair
Company: Management, tech and policy consulting firm with 5,000 employees – expected to hit $1B in revenue this year, with 45% coming from federal government and the rest from international, commercial and other business.
Interest in tech: Grew up with engineering friends, so tech was always of great interest. Studied engineering at MIT and learned early on that lives would be transformed with tech. 
Career highlights: Leveraged buyout in 1999; public offering in 2006; quadrupling company growth in eight years.
Business lesson: Have a clearly thought-out plan and stick to it. 
Grew up: India
Why DC: Came after MIT to work for one to two years.
First job at ICF: Worked as an associate on a food regulation project. 
Family: Married (wife was head of organizational development at Marriott); two kids – son is a junior in college studying economics and math and 13-year-old does stand-up comedy every Tuesday night.
Free time: Read non-fiction. (Highly recommend Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power by Robert Kaplan.)

Debbie Kissire


Title: Vice chair, Ernst & Young (retiring in June)
Interest in finance: The president of a bank I worked at part-time during high school and college encouraged me to pursue a business major. Had planned to be a teacher. 
Career highlights: Joining Ernst & Young in 1979 and making partner 11 years later; moving to DC in 2001 to become Mid-Atlantic managing partner; becoming vice chair and member of the executive board in 2006.
Business lesson: Being mentored and being a mentor to others is so critical and impactful. We have an obligation to pay it forward. 
Grew up: New Braunfels, TX
Retirement plans: Travel, charitable work and corporate board work. Son is also leaving for college, so plan to spend more time with husband and friends as new empty nesters.
First job: Babysitter.
Favorite restaurant: Mi Cocina (Bethesda).
Favorite vacation spot: Hilton Head
Hobbies: Reading and rooting for the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Cowboys.

Dennis Ratner


Title: Founder/CEO and Stylist, Ratner Cos. (Hair Cuttery)
Company: 1,000 hair salons in 16 states, east of the Mississippi; 13,000 associates.
Inspiration to launch: Saw the hair industry changing in the 1970s from "wash and set" to "wash and blow dry" and grew up with an entrepreneurial family who was in the hair business. When industry started in '60s and '70s, nobody was doing what we visualized.
Grew up: DC
Childhood memory: Taking a street car to Glen Echo.
Free time: Skiing, working out, and continuous education and training.