Off the beaten track
Jean-Paul Tennant (M.S.’93 EECS, M.B.A.’01) talked his way into his dream job—CFO of an international adventure travel company—after working as a Navy submarine officer, a Goldman Sachs bond trader and a math teacher at an Oakland public high school.
During his final semester at Haas, a stunning travel catalog on his in-laws’ coffee table caught his eye. Intrigued, Tennant contacted the company and managed to convince the president that he needed a CFO. Called GeoEx (formerly Geographic Expeditions), the company is based in San Francisco and specializes in adventure travel. Since its founding in 1981, GeoEx has racked up 30 travel firsts, including the first guided crossing of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s traverse of South Georgia.
Tennant, who became CEO in 2011, has helped the company of 50 employees navigate the recent recession. Sales this year are expected to reach $27 million, up from $11 million in 2001, when Tennant joined GeoEx. “The mathematical rigor I learned at the College of Engineering was extremely helpful as my career migrated to finance and business,” says Tennant.