Class of 1976 Profile: Mark Krivoruchka
May 21, 2021
Mark Krivoruchka is a founding operating partner of Harkness Capital, a private equity firm. He has over 30 years of experience in human resources and as an operations executive, most recently serving as Senior Vice President of Human Resources at both Mobile Mini, prior to the merger with WillScot and also RSC Holdings, overseeing the integration of RSC with United Rentals. Krivoruchka previously held human resource and operating GM leadership positions with GE, Pillsbury, Maytag, Hoover Floor Care, and Cooper Tire.
He serves on two other boards: Chrysalis, a nonprofit focusing on domestic violence which helps provide shelter support in the Phoenix area; and AWP, a small rental equipment company in the Wisconsin area.
Krivoruchka graduated from Virginia Tech in 1976 with a degree in Business Management and completed his MBA at Virginia Tech in 1981.
Why did you choose to attend Virginia Tech?
I grew up in Northern Virginia, in a, at the time, sleepy Fairfax County. My father worked as an intelligence officer for the NSA. Originally, I wanted to go to UVA, but my parents refused to let me attend as it was a “party school.” We took a road trip to Blacksburg and I instantly fell in love with the Virginia Tech campus. I also loved the blue-collar mindset of a land grant university.
I have always been intrigued by the competitive spirit of business, the drive to win, and continuously improve. I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, beginning back when I would mow lawns as a kid. The business community has always appealed to my competitive spirit to coach, mentor, and successfully grow businesses.
What are some of your favorite memories from your time at Virginia Tech?
I dated and married my wife, Terry, who also attended Virginia Tech. We have been best friends and married for 44 years, with two children and two grandkids (so far).
While living in the dorms for my freshman and sophomore years, our room was a corner room, and at 11:30 p.m. each weeknight we would meet in our room, play cards, and watch “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson. It was a great group of guys, we called ourselves “the family,” and I was the godfather.
When my wife and I were just starting to date, we went on a bike ride through campus and ended up facing each other by the Drillfield. Neither one of us would move and, consequently, we rammed each other. Thank goodness, no one got hurt. We still laugh about that event.
I attended Virginia Tech during a tumultuous time in our country’s history. But Blacksburg and the campus was a cocoon. Everyone there wanted to build friendships, get an education and better themselves.
I believe I am the only former student from the Pamplin School of Business who has served in some advisory capacity for all three deans – Dean Mitchell, Dean Sorenson, and Dean Sumichrast. For Dean Mitchell, I was appointed to be the student advisor on the Dean’s council. I have also served in the Pamplin Advisory Council for both Dean Sorenson and Dean Sumichrast.
How has Virginia Tech helped lead or influence your career?
My education, particularly my MBA, opened doors for me at GE, and led to my growth and exposure as a change agent and leader of change and talent management.
My professors were solid in getting me to explore all avenues before making final decisions.
What in your career are you the proudest of?
Teaching, mentoring, and developing young leaders. Over my career, I have managed and help guide over 50 employees who have reached VP or SVP levels in their careers.
I have worked as a confidential advisor to six CEOs in my capacity as Chief Human Resource Officer.
For me, it is all about making others better, through teaching, guiding, and mentoring. I love coaching and sharing my many years of experience.
You’ve been very engaged with Virginia Tech since graduating. What are your engagement highlights?
As a student: As I mentioned before, our dorm team was called “the family,” and we played flag football, basketball, and softball. We were competitive and would make the playoffs, but eventually lose to the big fraternities on campus.
Concerts on the Drillfield and football games at Lane Stadium.
As a volunteer leader: Coming back and lecturing today’s students on key learnings and what to prepare for in building a career. Helping via the advisory council building the strategic plan to govern Pamplin.
What is your advice for current students? For graduating students?
Listen, ask questions, and reach out for advice. You would be surprised how many Hokie alumni would love to help students. If you do not ask questions, you will not grow as fast.
Go to class, take good notes, and, like my father always said, don’t do anything halfway; Always give it your best effort. You and your family invested in your education; leverage it to make you a better individual.
For those who have recently graduated, you have done so during a unique time because of the pandemic – kudos to you. The world is changing so fast, it is okay to be a little scared. You’ve got a degree; it is going to be okay. No one can take that degree away from you. Do not be intimidated.
You have established an endowed excellence fund in the Management Department, are a proud participant in the GBAC initiative, and have given consistently to both Pamplin and Virginia Tech. Why?
Virginia Tech was very good to me. I received a great education, made great friends, and have nothing but fond memories of my time there.
I am not a taker; I am a giver. And Virginia Tech allows me to do so.
What does Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) mean to you?
It means to give back as much as you can, and however, you can do it, whether it be time, talents, or treasures.
It is cool when years later, receive messages from people who you have helped along the way.
I read anything by David Baldacci.
I studied Civil War History under Dr. Robertson and “Stonewall Jackson” was a great book. Also, I love “The Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara.
Regarding business books, “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell is a great read to understand change.
“Good to Great” by Jim Collins is a great book for any leader managing people.
“Execution; Getting things Done” by Larry Bossidy, who I worked for at GE.
“Jack Welch: Straight from the Gut” by Jack Welch, who was CEO when I with GE.
“Leadership Engine” by Noel Tichy, who lead GE Crotonville and mentions me in the book.
“Never do anything half-ass.” – My dad
“Control your own destiny or someone else will.” – Jack Welch
“Do you invest in people or strategies? Always people first.” – Larry Bossidy
“Change is the only constant.”