On Business and Boardrooms: Peter Ahn ’87, Chair of the Advancement Committee

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LH: What are two favorite memories you have of Macalester? A professor, a prank—whatever comes to mind.

PA: My favorite two memories of Macalester are graduation day and the day I married my wife in the Weyerhauser Chapel. Both were on beautiful sunny days in May and both were marking an exciting new chapter of my life.

LH: What were some activities or departments you were involved in while an undergrad? And, more specifically, who were mentors on this campus that challenged you to grow, to serve, and to lead?

PA: I was an economics major with a minor in philosophy. The professors I admired most were Karl Egge and David West; Dr. Egge for the passion he displayed in every aspect of the economics department and Dr. West for the curiosity he instilled in me.
LH: You are now a Partner at Hemisphere Companies over in Minneapolis. For the seniors out there—how did you make the trek across the river? What was your path post-graduation?

LH: You are now a Partner at Hemisphere Companies over in Minneapolis. For the seniors out there—how did you make the trek across the river? What was your path post-graduation?

PA: The Hemisphere Companies were founded by me and my partner Ali Alizadeh ’85. I met Ali in the fall of 1983 [on the] 2nd [floor of] Wallace and we’ve worked together since 1997. We make investments in the US and Canada, principally in the hospitality and service industries. My path to Hemisphere was really a lot of fun and I’m still having fun today.
I spent the first two winters after Mac as a ski bum in Utah. After the best two winters of my life, I earned an MBA starting at Tulane University and finishing at the University of Minnesota. I spent the next ten years first as a management consultant and then as an investment banker.

LH: Why are you serving on the Board of Trustees? Why commit all the hours to meetings and readings and responsibilities in addition to your work? And what specific plans do you have?

PA: Serving on the Board of Trustees is a privilege and I serve because I believe in the mission of the school. I’m also thrilled to be a part of a fantastic group of truly committed people; students, faculty and staff, alumni and trustees all working to make Macalester and the world a better place.

LH: Since your time as an undergrad—and especially during your time on the Board—how have you seen Macalester students change? As someone who has worked with Mac students since graduating, how do you understand Macalester distinctiveness?

PA: My parents are both 1957 graduates of dear old Macalester and some of my earliest memories are of being on campus, so I’ve seen a lot of change at the school. Measured by test scores and academic achievement, today’s students are more accomplished than when I was on campus. Today’s students are bright, engaging and mature. In my memory, Mac students in the 1980s were bright and engaging. What hasn’t changed is the entrepreneurial spirit exhibited by students and alumni. From developing non-profit enterprises to creating commercial companies, Macites cause change.