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Working Capital Conversations
Engaging conversations on business, technology and innovation.
6 days ago
Hive Health – Co-winner of Harvard’s New Ventures Competition
Today we explore entrepreneurialism – the spirit that drives it, and what it takes to turn that spiritual drive into tangible action. The journey takes us to hallowed halls at Harvard and Stanford, but it starts in – perhaps – a less likely location: The Philippines. The U.S. health care challenge is likely well known to listeners of this podcast. But the U.S. is far from the only country that struggles with access, cost, payment, coverage and more. That’s the challenge that students and entrepreneurs Jiawen Tang and Camille Ang have taken on in an award-winning, globally-recognized way through Hive Health, a digital health insurer providing simplified, affordable, and quality healthcare to Filipino employees through a data science-powered platform. Hive Health was co-winner of the 2021 Dubilier Grand Prize at Harvard’s prestigious New Ventures Competition. The Dubilier Prize was established by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice in 1998 in honor of CD&R Co-Founder, Martin Dubilier (MBA 1952), to support entrepreneurship. This conversation not only digs into the business itself, but also, importantly, what it takes to bootstrap a new business from idea to reality. In other words, what it takes to be an entrepreneur. About the entrepreneurs themselves: Jiawen Tang is pursuing an MPA-International Development at the Harvard Kennedy School and an MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She has worked on data science and digital development initiatives with the IMF, World Bank, and UN, and on economic development initiatives with TechnoServe Swaziland and its successor Catalyze. She also served at Oliver Wyman, where she focused on consumer financial services and digital payments. Camille Ang is pursuing an MPA-International Development degree at the Harvard Kennedy School and an MBA at the Harvard Business School. She worked in Private Equity at Macquarie, managed insurance funds, and played critical roles in the acquisition and management of companies across South East Asia. Camille has also previously worked on public-private partnership projects in the government of the Philippines, with McKinsey, as well as the Rwandan Development Board.
Sep 27, 2021
Victoria Sakal: How Brands Can Build Trust
It seems obvious: We are not exactly living in the golden age of trust. Everywhere one turns, trust seems to be crumbling – institutions, politicians, media, even science. The causes, of course, are everywhere, starting – but not ending – with social media and that old line: a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes. So given the current state of trust, what are brands supposed to do? What are the key trends around the building — and breaking — of consumer trust? What challenges do brands face? What do the good ones do well? How easy is it to lose? And as consumers increasing “expect” brands to take positions on our most divisive social issues, how exactly should brands manage those tensions? Victoria Sakal is one to ask. Victoria is Morning Consult’s Managing Director of Brand Intelligence. She leads the company’s brand intelligence research, focusing on the intersection of data with marketing strategy, brand reputation, and consumer trends. She is also author of the intelligence company’s Most Trusted Brands 2021 report, in addition to recent reports on the post-vaccine consumer, examining evolved attitudes towards brands, categories, channels, consumption, Consumer-Brand Relationships, and more. As you’ll hear, Victoria skillfully explains not only the key trends brands face, but importantly the key tactics that winning brands employ.
Sep 9, 2021
Jordan Ellenberg -- Why Math Matters in Business
Great business leaders are often seen as innovators, inspirational storytellers and brilliant leaders. They are keen and decisive observers. But would we envision any mathematical principles in their toolkit? Just as business finds solutions to various problems and hurdles, mathematical formulas and practices make sense of our chaotic world. What can business-minded individuals learn from these insights? How do principles of randomness and probability factor into shrewd business planning? Jordan Ellenberg is the internationally-bestselling author of How Not To Be Wrong and the recently-published Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else. He holds a master's in fiction writing from John Hopkins and a Ph.D. in math from Harvard. He has been writing for a general audience about math for over fifteen years and advocates for leaning into the anxieties and misunderstandings many of us have about mathematics.
Jul 13, 2021
Roberto Quarta: What Makes an Effective Board of Directors
In the time of an unprecedented global pandemic, boards – private and public – have been forced to re-examine priorities. And it’s not just trying to manage through Covid. ESG, diversity & inclusion, an evolving remote-work dynamic, a growing expectation that corporations will engage with social issues around race, gender and more.As companies face new challenges, what makes an effective board of directors? And how are companies with strong board compositions and engagement better equipped for turbulent times?To find answers, I spoke with Roberto Quarta. Roberto is Chairman of CD&R Europe, in addition to being Board Chair of WPP and Smith & Nephew. He is a former CEO and serves on both private and public boards. And as you’ll hear, to drive success, there’s one agenda in particular that has captured his attention – it’s what he calls the “human agenda.”
Jun 28, 2021
Nicholas Dirks -- The Impact of Science Today
Has there been a time when science has played a more significant, more direct role in the quality, if not quantity, of our lives? The most obvious example, of course, is Covid-19 – from understanding the pandemic to developing a cure in record time. And yet simultaneously – just as science brings us together, allowing individuals and societies to connect again – has there been a time when science has divided us more? Not only in our acceptance of how to manage Covid, but even extending to our climate. How should we – in business, public policy, and our own lives – reconcile the seemingly contradictory trend that arguably science is as inspiring and dividing right now as perhaps any time in history? For answers, if not insights, few are better to ask than Nicholas Dirks.
Jun 8, 2021
Ben Rhodes on What Happened to America -- and the World?
For eight years, Ben Rhodes served as Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama, engaged in issues ranging from reestablishing relations with Cuba to Benghazi to helping negotiate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the Iran nuclear deal. Now, more than four years after leaving that role – but still engaged in business, politics, and international relations – Rhodes has written a book about his personal post-Obama journey that sought to answer a simple question: What happened – to the world, America, and himself as the undertow of history pulled us into the currents of nationalism and authoritarianism – and what we should do about it? It's titled "After the Fall: Being American in the World We've Made." As Rhodes writes: “To be born American in the late twentieth century was to take the fact of a particular kind of American exceptionalism as granted— a state of nature arrived at after all else had failed... Somehow, after three decades of unchecked American capitalism, military power, and technological innovation, the currents of history had turned against democracy itself.”
Dec 22, 2020
Daniel Feder on the State of Endowment Investing
It goes without saying – nearly every sector globally has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. But for few sectors are those effects more evident than universities. From admissions to in-person classes to college sports, there’s hardly an element of the experience that hasn’t had to pivot quickly. So what about endowment investing? As universities face untold economic uncertainties and challenges, what impact has it had on the approach endowments take. Put differently, have the characteristics that make endowment investing different – from time horizons to information access and beyond – been helpful in navigating these new challenges? Daniel Feder is one to ask. Dan is a Managing Director with the University of Michigan Investment Office and leads the endowment’s investments in private equity and venture capital. Prior to joining Michigan, Dan was the Managing Director of Private Markets at the Washington University Investment Management Company. Previously, among other roles, Feder served asManaging Director of Private Markets for the Sequoia Capital Heritage Fund, Senior Investment Manager in the endowment services area at TIAA-CREF, and Managing Director at Princeton University Investment Company, the investment office for Princeton University’s endowment.
Dec 10, 2020
Dr. Alexandria White: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion -- and Business
While the terms diversity, equity and inclusion are not new, the movement – across society, institutions, and businesses – gained extraordinary momentum this year. Obviously, this push for increased understanding, awareness, and action was greatly inspired by George Floyd’s death. It has grown from there. But what, exactly, does diversity, equity, and inclusion – often called D.E.I. – actually look like? What tangible steps can business leaders take to integrate the principles not as one-off projects, but rather on going standard operating procedures? And what might those changes mean – for immediate adopters and companies slow on the uptake – for any business’ ability to compete and win in a next-generation workplace? Dr. Alexandria White works with organizations to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces. She serves as Director of Diversity for ReBoot Accel and as an adjunct faculty in the University of Mississippi’s School of Education. Dr. White has worked in retail banking, leadership, community activism, diversity planning and higher education and founded S.A.M.S. – Student Affairs MomS – the largest online community for mothers who work on college campuses. As you’ll hear, she brings deep perspective, experience, and actionable tips to the conversation.
Dec 1, 2020
Dr. Josh Lerner — Future of Diversity and Inclusion in Private Equity
A straightforward question: as we consider the future of diversity and inclusion in private equity, can the industry meet the challenge? To seek answers, the Private Capital Project at the Harvard Business School and the Private Capital Research Institute recently hosted a webinar with a group of limited and general partners. What did they find? I spoke with one of the conference leaders, Dr. Josh Lerner, the Schiff Professor of Investment Banking at Harvard Business School. He co-directs the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Program and serves as co- editor of their publication, Innovation Policy and the Economy. He founded and runs the Private Capital Research Institute, a nonprofit devoted to encouraging access to data and research, and has been a frequent leader of and participant in the World Economic Forum projects and events. He has been named one of the 100 most influential people in private equity over the past decade and one of the ten most influential academics in the institutional investing world.
Sep 9, 2020
Joe Coughlin: The Science & Art of Managing Business Risk Today
Businesses, of course, face risk every day, whether from supply chain disruption, calamity, or as we’ve seen from a series of hurricanes of the last years, Mother Nature. But most of these risks have a foreseeable ending – after all, at some point the hurricane passes. But among the many business risks during this Covid age are the unknown risks – how long will the pandemic endure? Which geographies will be hit hardest? What might recovery look like? And while the insurance business can account for many of the regular risks, Covid brings a new, challenging dimension. So how are the insurance companies thinking about Covid-19? Perhaps more significantly, how can businesses measure, plan, and account for the risks they face? How should they think about the problem?
Mar 2, 2020
George Nguyen: What Does Gen Z Want from Brands?
It’s the age old question nearly every business brand would like to know: What do young people care about? Do they apply their beliefs and goals to their commercial choices? Do brands matter to them? Put differently, from a brand’s perspective, do youth care about who you are — or what you do and how you do it? What are the forces influencing their brand choices? And when leading global and domestic brands want to know the answer to these questions, George Nguyen is one person they frequently call. Nguyen is Managing Director of Untapped, a youth trends and insights agency that is changing the way brands approach market research. Untapped is borne of the simple belief that the only subject matter experts are the subjects themselves – and they tap into their network of more than 5,000 young urban influencers and what they call “gatekeepers” to learn. They do this by partnering with STOKED, a non-profit youth development program in NY, CHI, and LA. Untapped gets the insig…
Feb 24, 2020
Vindi Banga: Business Outlook in a Changing World
Once again this year, thousands of the world’s leading economic and business players met in the little Swiss ski town of Davos. And once again, the key topics and discussions had little to do with winter sports. The reasons are obvious. There’s a lot going on in the world today and plenty of questions: * As global political economies continue to evolve at an increased pace, how much will leaders factor geopolitics into evaluating potential transactions? * How do global population and health trends affect the ways companies and investors think about investing in and managing businesses? * Can innovation, entrepreneurialism and investment meet the challenges of climate change? * And what about technology? As jobs increasingly get disintermediated by Artificial Intelligence, how should businesses, governments and individuals balance the opportunities that tech brings with its equally challenging implications? To find out, we spoke with Clayton, Dubilier & Rice London-based…
Jan 9, 2020
Anindya Ghose: China, US, & Future of AI
As the world becomes a messier place, and as the U.S. Great Power Competition with China continues to ramp up, this battle will be fought on many fronts – few if any on an actual battlefield.Instead, these superpowers’ fight for supremacy focuses on different dimensions of power and influence – in particular, areas like business and technology, including the next generation of Artificial Intelligence applications.So who’s winning? Where does China stand – and what should other countries and companies understand to compete and win?To find out, I welcomed back a previous and incredibly interesting guest: Anindya Ghose, the Heinz Riehl Chair Professor of Business at New York University's Leonard N. Stern School of Business. Anindya is also the author of the important and engaging book, Tap: Unlocking the Mobile Economy, which has now been translated into five languages and was recently named one of the top 100 marketing books of all time. Ghose also was named to the prestigious…
Nov 18, 2019
Alexandre Mars, How Epic Foundation Innovates Philanthropy
As with any startup opportunity, when the serial and successful tech entrepreneur Alexander Mars decided in 2013 to tackle philanthropy, he had to identify the market gap. Turns out, he already knew it: The disconnect, as he describes, between how much we want to give and how much we actually give.The challenge, of course: How to bridge the gap. Mars’ answer: Just like a business.He gathered specialists in international development, social impact, open innovation, design thinking and technology to develop an industry-leading due diligence process to build and manage a portfolio of high impact social organizations.Beyond the intense due diligence, Epic also leverages startup and business thinking into its fundraising and donor relations, from integrating into corporations’ payroll systems to enable voluntary and automated employee giving to using virtual reality technology to bring the on-site philanthropy experiences to life.The result is Epic, a global non-profit investing…
Oct 16, 2019
Diane Flynn: How Companies Should Respond to Changing Workplace Demographics
From gender-based pay gaps to leadership roles, advancement opportunity to corporate culture, the treatment of women in the workplace – and how to enhance growth opportunities for women executives – is and has been under continual focus.But now this focus is frequently combined with a new, and growing trend: The aging and multigenerational workforce. The numbers may surprise you: The number one growing demographic in today’s workplace is women over 55. In fact, the number of people over 55 is going to be 25% of our workforce in five years.The statistics come from Diane Flynn, Co-Founder and CEO of ReBoot Accel, accelerating the careers of women in the workplace and consulting with high-growth and Fortune 500 companies, as she puts it, “interested in creating workplaces where women thrive.”It’s also why – with companies like Airbnb, Udemy, Visa and Gap, Flynn has launched The Silicon Valley Longevity Project, which seeks to bring together companies recognizing that “How…
Oct 11, 2019
Andrew McAfee: Why Capitalism & Technology Will Save the Planet
If one question has driven mankind’s quest for innovation, it very well might be this: How can we get more from less?For most of our time on this planet, the answer was simple: We couldn’t. As my guest Andrew McAfee points out, for just about all of human history – particularly the Industrial Era – our prosperity has been tightly coupled to our ability to take resources from the earth. We got more from more.That tradeoff yielded incredible positive contributions in nearly every field: Technology, industry, medicine. But there’s one glaring area – one of those “aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play” areas – where the trade wasn’t so incredibly positive. Of course, that’s the environment.As global industry rode the combination of human’s infinite ingenuity and Mother Nature’s finite resources – we all reaped the benefits. But we also saw the costs: Exponential global warming. Perhaps it’s not an exact straight line, but the connection is clear to a…
Sep 27, 2019
Isaac Stone Fish: Where do U.S.-China relations go next?
October 1st marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China – the name given by Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong in 1949. To understate the reality, a lot has happened in China over the last 70 years. The fact is, a lot has happened in China over the last 70 days – much of it unexpected, confusing, and on-going – politically and economically. Politically, of course, pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong capture global attention and concern. But so, too, does China’s economic situation, in particular, its continuing – sometimes escalating – battle with the U.S. over tariffs, intellectual property, market access, currency valuation and more… all fitting somewhat neatly under the “Great Power Competition” with the United States. For business and public policy leaders, the question remains: How did we get here – and where do China and Chinese-U.S. relations go next? To find out, I talked with Isaac Ston…
Sep 16, 2019
Roger McNamee: 'Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe’
What happened to Facebook?Particularly in the post-2016 political campaign, the realities of data, personas and manipulation have come out into the open, from the front pages to Congressional hearings. As policymakers consider regulating companies like Facebook and Google around issues ranging from speech to monopolies, companies and consumers are thinking in new ways about the business of data privacy.The Facebook story, of course, is instructive.Among other areas, it’s a story about business models and incentives and what can happen to a company when the two don’t align with a stated mission – or, perhaps, the public good.It’s also a story about privacy, data and data portability. In other words – who owns your data, and what combination of personal, corporate and regulatory action needs to address the rules around it?It’s also a story about one of the major tensions of our time – to whom should a business be responsible? Shareholders? The community? Employees? And in a…
Aug 11, 2019
Adam Heltzer, Partners Group -- ESG, Sustainability & Investing
For a long time in business and private equity, corporate sustainability – also known as ESG, the initials for Environmental, social and governance – was a rear guard part of the business that took front stage only when PR required.That time has most definitely passed.Today, ESG is not only front stage, but it’s often fully integrated into the deal making process – a central part of the business due diligence and on-going operations – as well as a key factor for LPs as they decide where to invest.So what does ESG mean today? How involved in the portfolio companies’ sustainability strategies should the PE firms be? And how important is it to LPs?That’s what I asked Adam Heltzer, Head of ESG & Sustainability at Partners Group, the Swiss-based private equity firm with more than $80B in assets under management. Not only does Adam oversee ESG integration throughout the investment process, but he also manages a portfolio of 150 value creation and risk mitigation projects across…
Aug 5, 2019
Robert Seamans: AI and the Economy
If you thought the battle between machines and jobs – the dislocation of labor and society resulting from digitization or automation – has been one-sided so far, just wait. The next wave of attack is well underway, and it’s called AI. Artificial Intelligence, most simply, refers to computers that perform tasks that normally require human intelligence – things like visual perception, speech recognition, even decision-making. Earlier this year the management consulting firm McKinsey famously wrote that “25 percent of the global workforce will either need to find new professional activities by 2020 or significantly broaden their technological skills. The World Economic Forum’s “Future of Jobs Report: 2018” states, “By 2022, the skills required to perform most jobs will have shifted significantly… [and] no less than 54% of all employees will require significant re- and upskilling.” The greatest concerns are not just that AI destroys jobs, but that…
Jun 19, 2019
Raghuram Rajan: The Economic Consequences of Globalization
Raghuram Rajan has an unparalleled view into the social and economic consequences of globalization and their ultimate effect on our politics. Rajan’s background is extraordinary: He has served as Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund and Head of India’s Central Bank. He’s written several books, including one that won the Financial Times-Goldman Sachs prize for best business book in 2010. Today he is the Katherine Dusak Miller Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Rajan’s new book is an important must read that explains the dangerous connections among inequality, globalization and populism – and will change the way you think about the markets, government and local communities. It’s titled: The Third Pillar: How the State and Markets are leaving Communities Behind.What made this conversation so good is not just what he says, but how he tells the story. As Rajan puts it: “All economics is actually socio…
May 16, 2019
Ron Williams: Learning to Lead
Ron Williams knows leadership. He was, after all, Chairman and CEO of Aetna. When he joined Aetna in 2001, its loss from continuing operations was $292 million, with earnings per share loss of $0.46. By the time Williams left in 2011, the company’s full-year operating earnings were $2 billion, with operating earnings per share of $5.17. Beyond the numbers, though, During Williams’ tenure, Aetna was named FORTUNE's most admired company in the Health Care: Insurance and Managed Care category for three consecutive years. Now Williams has written a book about leadership: “Learning to Lead: The Journey to Leading Yourself, Leading Others, and Leading an Organization.” However, he has also written a book about addressing many of the major gaps in society today, including the growth of inequality and the death of ethics. In fact, Williams’ argues that it’s exactly because of these times that we must renew our focus on leadership. He writes: “Our society has…
Apr 28, 2019
Joseph Stiglitz: Is Capitalism Working?
About four years ago, Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz was attending his 55th high school reunion in Gary, IN, when he heard a story that made him stand up straight. Then he heard another. And another. These classmates’ stories – about themselves and their families – brought to life the statistics Stiglitz had been seeing in his economic charts: Lost jobs, poor access to health care, shorter life spans, crumbling infrastructure, lost opportunity, waning hope. The numbers hadn’t lied, and now they were talking to Stiglitz at this gathering with old friends. Their message: The economy was broken. In fact, more than just the economy wasn’t working – Capitalism itself seemed off. From his current and past work, Stiglitz knew the causes: Exploitation & market power; mismanagement of globalization; a deregulated financial sector that helped lead to the Great Recession; new technologies that threatened even more job displacement; the growing difference between weal…
Apr 3, 2019
Chris Witkowsky on the last decade of private equity investing.
As anyone with even a passing interest knows, over the last decade, private equity has had quite a run: Deal multiples have hit record highs; while deal count declined, investment value grew again last year; and so-called “dry powder” – capital sitting ready to invest – hit a record high of $2 trillion in December 2018 across all fund types. And yet, as always, questions remain: * Can prices sustain their extraordinary levels? * When PE investors run their crucial return projections – what assumptions are they making about the broader economy… or even a recession? * And what about politics – is the industry ready for the 2020 campaign and new questions about the capitalism? Few people follow private equity – or have more sources and resources in the industry – than Chris Witkowsky, Editor of PE Hub and Buyouts. We discussed what’s next for PE, what he hears from investors and private equity firms, and whether they believe PE’s extrao…
Mar 29, 2019
End Medical Debt: Curing America's $1 Trillion Unpayable Healthcare Debt
Quick business and health question: How much medical debt exists in this country? Keep in mind, the U.S. is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. In fact, the U.S. spends more per capita on healthcare than any other country. Well, the amount according to RIP Medical Debt will blow your mind: $1 Trillion. What can be done about it? That's the subject of this conversation and a new book, End Medical Debt: Curing America's $1 Trillion Unpayable Healthcare Debt. The book is an extraordinary exploration of not only how this problem evolved, but also how it brings down the individuals and families burdened with unpayable debt. The authors explain how the system works or, more often than not, doesn't work. They also offer their own views on how we can get out. The authors come from wildly different perspectives, all in the business or healthcare field. Jerry Ashton brings more than 40 years of experience in the credit and collections industry. Robert Goff spent a…
Feb 21, 2019
Jonathan Wilk: Who Pays for Health Care?
We know that the health care system can be confusing – never mind the actual medical care. It also is costly. And from changing coverage to high deductibles to co-pays and more, the question remains: Who pays? Jonathan Wiik has an answer. Jonathan is a Principal in Healthcare Strategy at TransUnion. He’s also the author of “Healthcare Revolution: The Patient Is the New Payer.” Wiik has spent much of his career examining the health care payments transformation. From his experience and research, Wiik outlines a system where, as he has written, “On average, healthcare consumers are now responsible for 30% to 35% of their healthcare bill1. Patient payment and collection practices are highly complex, and with high deductibles, patients have evolved into a primary payer source.” Further, Wiik acknowledges, the system means too many patients ultimately can face debilitating medical debt. Wiik outlines a go-forward approach that reimagines the patient as a…
Dec 19, 2018
Kirabo Jackson: Investing in Education Delivers Exponential Results
We frequently hear the complaint: Our education systems – particularly public education – are broken. Invest in these approaches? That’s just throwing good money after bad. For example, investing in Head Start may make sense. In other cases, investing in K-12 might be the right approach. But coordinate and sustain ongoing investment in both? Forget it. Only, it turns, out: That’s not what the data show. And that’s not the conclusion of Kirabo Jackson, a Northwestern University professor, who has analyzed that data, the trends, and the outcomes. In fact, as Jackson explains: It’s specifically the continued, ongoing investment in kids and their education that delivers exponential results. As you’ll hear, investing in Head Start plus investing in K-12 – that math is simple: 1 + 1 = 3. A word about Prof. Jackson: He’s the Professor of Human Development and Social Policy and Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern’s School of Education & Socia…
Nov 26, 2018
Nikhil Sinha: Creating a Global Silicon Valley
You know Silicon Valley – that magical place were people, ideas, investment, and opportunities have come together for years to generate the next generation of disruptive businesses. The big challenge for Silicon Valley has not been bringing all of those assets from around to the world to one place in Northern California – it’s been how to bring Silicon Valley to the world. Most specifically: How do you scale (to use a start-up word) the key elements around a start-up environment and distribute them globally? That’s just part of GSV Labs mission. GSV stands for Global Silicon Valley, and as you’ll hear from CEO Nikhil Sinha, that’s exactly what they are. From physical accelerators placed in some of the most exciting locations in the world to digital environment that connects some of the most remote, GSV Labs has pooled an extraordinary collection of entrepreneurs, corporations, thinkers, and technology. A word about Nikhil: He’s just the person to lead such an effort and w…
Nov 12, 2018
Lee Clark-Sellers on Purposeful Innovation
Not only is innovation perhaps one of the most overused words in business, it also might be one of the most misunderstood. Many people think of innovation as “eureka” moments. It’s not. Those are “eureka” moments. Instead, as you’ll hear, innovation requires purpose, design, process, and, yes, the room to take some chances. Lee Clark-Sellers is the Innovation Officer at Ply Gem Industries. Sellers is systematically integrating innovation into the all areas of the company. And if you don’t think you can find innovation in the exterior building products industry, well, that may be another misunderstanding.
Nov 1, 2018
Josh Mohrer: A new model for the venture capital world
If you thought Uber’s network of cars is strong, you’ll be very interested to learn about a new network that two former executives are spinning off – and how they’re impacting the venture capital world.Josh Mohrer is one of those former Uber execs – he was the General Manager of Uber in NY, NJ, CT and PA and helped grow revenues there from zero to $3 billion. Now, with William Barnes, who led Uber’s West Coast ops, Josh is leveraging the entrepreneurial spirit that drove Uber and driving it in a new direction.He put together a syndicate of investors – nearly all former Uber employees – to invest in startups either by other former Uber employees or in adjacent businesses and sectors. The combination – funding plus operational expertise – is called Moving Capital and has created a model that others in the VC world are watching.How does it work? What are the growth expectations? Here’s my conversation with Josh Morher.
Oct 16, 2018
John Chambers: Connecting the Dots
You know that John Chambers has been a CEO. After all, he spent more than 25 years at Cisco, helping grow the company from $70 million when he joined in 1991, to $1.2 billion when he became CEO in 1995, to $47 billion when he stepped down as CEO in 2015. What you may not know is that Chambers is also – perhaps foremost – a teacher. In fact, it’s a big part of what he does now as founder and CEO of JC2 Ventures, which describes itself as “mentors of digital innovation, who coach each company on their journey, using our experiences to help them see around corners, accelerate markets, and create entirely new ones.” Teaching is also a big part of what he’s put in his new book, “Connecting the Dots: Lessons for Leadership in a Startup World.” Now don’t get the impression that Chambers thinks he knows it all. He makes clear – in the book and in our conversation – that he’s always learning. Always asking questions. Always trying to discover what’s next. That spirit a…
Oct 3, 2018
Janet Cowell: Girls Who Invest
In many industries, the challenge of bringing more women into leadership roles – creating the opportunities to start and grow careers – remains. Financial services – alternative investments, in particular – is no exception. That’s the problem Girls Who Invest is built to address. The non-profit was founded in 2015 to inspire and empower young women to pursue asset management careers. Their goals: To see 30% of the world’s investable capital managed by women by 2030. How do they do this? As you’ll hear from Girls Who Invest CEO Janet Cowell: They’re building a brand new pipeline – connecting leading firms, education and mentoring to create a new network of talent and opportunity. About Janet Cowell: She’s got a fascinating and perfect background. She held publicly elected offices in North Carolina for 15 years and was the first woman elected State Treasurer there, managing over $100 billion in assets, and health and retirement benefits, for over 90…
Sep 30, 2018
Beth Comstock: Bringing Imagination to Your Business
If throughout its history GE brought good things to life, you might say that – along with a few select others – Beth Comstock brought imagination to GE. And if you listen to her, you will understand how to bring it your own business, too. Beth’s story, perhaps, might seem hard to imagine. She began in PR and rose to become a GE Vice Chair. Along the way, among other roles, she served as GE’s first Chief Marketing Officer in 20 years and operated GE Business Innovations. She has also left her mark on American popular culture. Beth helped lead GE’s strategic shift to “ecomagination” and the “imagination at work” brand campaign; she served as President of Integrated Media at NBC Universal, where she launched Hulu. She also green lit GE’s iconic post-9/11 ad of a resolute Lady Liberty rolling up her sleeves, climbing off her podium, and the simple words: “We will roll up our sleeves. We will move forward together. We will overcome. We will never fo…
Sep 12, 2018
Jules Coleman on balancing social benefit with the bottom line
it sounds like the set up for a bad comedy routine: What is the role of morality in business -- business ethics -- today? But in an age where reputation matters – where a business’ brand and customer connections can be ruined almost faster than you can “Tweet this” – not just understanding, but doing, the right thing is more than nice… it’s a business imperative. But what is “the right thing?” For example, how should businesses balance social benefit with bottom line revenue? For whom does a business operate? And is there a place for morality in the boardroom? My conversation today is with someone who sits, as they say, in the room where it happens. Jules Coleman is one of the nation’s preeminent moral philosophers. For years, he was the Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld Professor of Jurisprudence and Professor of Philosophy at Yale Law School. He then became the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Planning at New York University. Today, Coleman serves on a number of corporate…
Aug 7, 2018
Tim O'Connor, Bain & Co: What's Next for Private Equity?
For Private Equity, last year was a rocket ship. Five years of record-level fund-raising left the industry flush with capital: So called Dry powder – uncommitted funds sitting ready to invest -- hit a record high of $1.7 trillion. And for good reason. Even if PE firms found something to buy, chances are it was pricy: Buyout purchase price multiples rose to new highs. Meanwhile, with nearly 8,000 PE firms registered globally, the challenges to standout continue to grow. So what’s next for Private Equity? How should GPs think about fundraising, investments, exits and more? What role will technology play – how can GPs be sure they’re not investing in the next industry to be disrupted? And what about LPs – what questions should they be asking as they look for new and better places to seek returns?To find out, I spoke with Tim O’Connor, Partner in the Private Equity Group at Bain & Company.
Jul 24, 2018
Michael Moe: Finding the Star Companies of Tomorrow
Where do ideas and investment intersect? Michael Moe is founder of GSV, a modern merchant bank that invests, advises, and partners with the fastest growing, most dynamic companies in the world… what they call “the Stars of Tomorrow.” As you’ll hear, GSV – which stands for Global Silicon Valley – runs various investment vehicles, including the publicly traded GSV Capital. You may know of some of the companies in the GSV vehicles have invested in: Facebook, Spotify, Twitter, Lyft, Dropbox, Coursera, among others. I thought did. But GSV is far from your traditional investment play. They also incubates ideas – GSV Labs is just one example – next generation insights and technologies that, they expect, will help drive next generation business solutions. How does it work? As Moe explains, GSV has created an active web of companies, advisors, ideas, and investments across several key emerging growth industries, including Education, Big Data, Sustainability, Social/Mobile, and m…
May 23, 2018
Pamela Cantor on the Science of Adversity
As we consider the various challenges any nation faces, teaching our children – preparing them with the tools required to be successful, active players in a continually evolving society – is likely one of the most important and hardest. The challenge is particularly great for children who experience various forms of trauma, including poverty. What’s required – from new insights to teacher training to school design and beyond – to help them succeed? It turns out, science has something to say about this – something my guest calls “The Science of Adversity.” Dr. Pamela Cantor is President and CEO of Turnaround for Children. She practiced child psychiatry for nearly two decades, specializing in trauma and founded Turnaround after co-authoring a study on the impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City schoolchildren. Dr. Cantor recognized that the scientific research on stress and the developing brain that she had learned in medical school should be translated into…
Apr 18, 2018
Sally Helgesen on Women's Leadership
For anyone in the workplace, the question of how to move to the next level is complex and often personal. As leaders and managers seek higher responsibility and authority and impact, we often find that the very skills that got us to where we are now aren't especially useful in moving forward. For women in the workplace, this challenge often can be even more complicated. Few people have thought, written, or spoken more on the subject than Sally Helgesen, world renown women's leadership expert and co-author with best-selling writer Marshall Goldsmith of a really important new book, How Women Rise, Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job. Sally notes that women's distinctive strengths and behaviors provide them with many advantages. Yet the very habits that help them early in their careers can hold them back as they seek to rise. How could women identify and address the habits most likely to get in their way as they seek to move to a higher level? Some…
Apr 1, 2018
Chris Whittle: Reforming Education, Globally
It is impossible to have followed Education for the last 40 years and not know Chris Whittle. He’s a serial education entrepreneur – a “reformer,” as he puts it – and as you’ll hear, he’s not done yet. After various bold ventures – founding Edison Schools, co-founding Avenues: The World School in Manhattan – Whittle is now preparing perhaps his biggest venture yet: What he calls the first modern school. It’s a global vision – K through 12 education for the globalized, connected world. And I mean global: Once completed, the Whittle School & Studio will have 36 campuses across 30 of the world’s leading cities – some 90,000 students and thousands of faculty. The first two campuses are scheduled to open in Washington D.C. and Shenzhen, China next year. Whittle aims, simply, to reform the institutionalized, one-size-fits-all approach and make relevant, flexible, and personalized education at scale – a new approach to learning in innovative physical environments a…
Feb 27, 2018
Views from World Economic Forum in Davos with Roberto Quarta, CD&R
In our continuing discussions on Davos – looking not only at what happened at The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting recently, but perhaps more importantly, what business leaders globally might expect its ongoing impact to be – we spoke with Roberto Quarta. Quarta is a longtime partner with Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and serves as Chairman of CD&R Europe, based in London. He also is Chairman of global media giant WPP, as well as Chairman of Smith & Nephew, a FTSE 100 listed global medical devices firm. Among many other roles, Quarta also previously served as Chief Executive and then Chairman of BBA Group. Quarta is, clearly, no stranger to global business… nor, as you’ll hear now, to Davos.
Feb 15, 2018
David Novak: Views from World Economic Forum in Davos
The World Economic Forum held its annual meeting recently in the little Swiss ski town of Davos. There was plenty of snow this year, but no one focused much on hitting the slopes. This was one of the most anticipated Davos gatherings in years. The reasons are obvious: There’s a lot going on in the world today and plenty of questions: * How are businesses and countries balancing long-term globalization trends with the more recent populist pressures? * What do new technology impacts – particularly AI – mean for industry, employment, competition, and innovation. * And then there are the regional issues, from Europe to Asia to, of course, U.S. President Donald Trump’s highly-publicized visit. What were the reactions – and more importantly, what should business leaders globally make sure to understand? To find out, we spoke with David Novak, a partner at Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and based in London.
Jan 17, 2018
Josh Lerner on Private Equity, Employment, and Management
It’s an age old question across all types of investing: can you have it all? In other words, can investors get the twin benefits of doing well and doing good? For the various private equity participants, the question has become more urgent over the last several years, particularly around ESG, Environmental, Social and Governance issues. As requirements around doing good increase from politicians, LPs, employees, even GPs, the need for GPs and LPs to deliver it all continues to rise. Put simply, what are the broad, social consequences of private equity investments?
Nov 28, 2017
Inside the Mobile Economy with Anindya Ghose
What happens when we tap or swipe on your phone? According to industry estimates: Only some 3 and a half trillion dollars of economic value added – about 4.5% of global GDP. Welcome to the mobile economy. And if you want to understand this massive and growing engine of global economic growth, there is perhaps no better tour guide than Anindya Ghose. Anindya is the Heinz Riehl Chair Professor of Business at New York University's Leonard N. Stern School of Business. He is also the author of the important and engaging new book, Tap: Unlocking the Mobile Economy. But after talking with Anindya, if I were to retitle his book, I’d likely make it: The power of a curious mind. Since beginning his studies and research, Anindya has focused relentlessly on the mobile economy – on understanding what he calls “the two-way exchange” that benefits both customers and business. Through research, case studies, and a distinct sense of humanness and humility, Ghose identifies nine forces tha…
Nov 21, 2017
How Family Firms Ensure Long-Term Value Creation with Claudia Zeisberger of INSEAD
The question seems simple: How Can Family Firms Ensure Long-Term Value Creation? But as a new report – based on interviews 123 Asia-based family firms and 14 private equity professionals – shows, the answer may be more complicated. The report is titled “The Institutionalization of Family Firms,” and it covers a significant driver of the global economy. As the study notes: “As family firms account for 70% of GDP in the global economy and 60% of global employment, the importance of long-term value creation extends beyond individual families – it is among the main drivers of economic growth and business innovation, as well as livelihoods.” To understand the study – and the lessons it reveals – I spoke with the lead author, Claudia Zeisberger. Zeisberger is the Senior Affiliate Professor of Decision Sciences and Entrepreneurship & Family Enterprise at INSEAD, as well as Founder and Academic Director of the school’s private equity center. She is also co-author of…
Nov 7, 2017
Estimating the Size of the App Economy with Morgan Reed
How important – how big and growing – is the App Economy? It’s not just the economic value, estimated at nearly $150B a year. The App Economy has added some 110K software jobs to the U.S. workforce, with 83 percent of those located outside of Silicon Valley. But how will this growth continue? How can the app economy extend beyond social media and games? How will it balance a reliance on Big and personal data with increasing calls to protect individual privacy? And what about the promise of artificial intelligence and the peril of cyber security? Morgan Reed is President of ACT/The App Association, which represents more than 5,000 app companies and information technology firms in the mobile economy. The organization advocates for an environment that inspires and rewards innovation while providing resources to help its members leverage their intellectual assets to raise capital, create jobs, and continue innovating Morgan – and the App Association – sit at the intersect…
Oct 31, 2017
What is Private Equity? - Claudia Zeisberger of INSEAD
For years, Claudia Zeisberger has found herself being asked what might seem like a straightforward question: What is Private Equity. It also might seem like a surprising question, given that global private equity assets under management run at about $2.5 trillion. It’s not like we’re talking about some hidden asset class. But the question came frequently and in different forms – sometimes about doing PE deals, other times about managing PE investments, still others about Fund Management and the GP-LP Relationship. So over the years, Zeisberger – who is the Senior Affiliate Professor of Decision Sciences and Entrepreneurship & Family Enterprise at INSEAD, as well as Founder and Academic Director of the school’s private equity center – would write 2-3 page primers on the various topics and hand them out. Now, Zeisberger has taken those primers and added original insights from some of the leading private equity players globally and co-authored two books: Mastering Private Equi…
Oct 13, 2017
Performance and persistence in private equity -- Josh Lerner, Harvard Business School
Conventional wisdom in private equity has often gone like this: Performance persists across funds for the same partnership. But the view over the last years is mixed. One 2014 study found that post-2000, there was “little evidence of persistence for buyout funds, except at the lower end of the performance distribution.” The question was addressed again recently at A Roundtable Sponsored by the Notre Dame Institute for Global Investing and the Private Capital Research Institute. Here a group of limited partners, academics and general partners met to share their thoughts on performance and persistence in private equity investments. Their conclusion: “the once robust persistence of performance across buyout funds has weakened, along the historical outperformance of private equity relative to the private markets.” But what does this finding mean in terms of various important inputs, factors like: approaches employed in selecting fund managers, factors influencin…
Aug 26, 2017
HowSilicon Valley Farming Startup Addresses Extreme Poverty, Global Food Shortage — John Denniston, Chairman of Shared X
The problem is challenging and enduring – and to listen to John Denniston, it also just may present the perfect opportunity to both do good and well. It’s called the Yield Gap – the difference in agriculture yield from farms in developed countries – which are more efficient and deliver more food per acre – vs. emerging countries, which are, of course, the very places where food is most needed. And that gap is part of the reason why Denniston, whose career has included investing in green tech and more as a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, as well as heading Tech Investment Banking in the Western U.S. at SalomonSmithBarney, launched Shared X – which he describes as a for-profit agriculture impact company with two key goals: Generating financial returns and generating social returns. But for this longtime investor, the a ha moment that led to Shared X came not through number crunching – though he does plenty of that – but rather on a trip with his kids. What…
Jul 21, 2017
Conversation on Leadership and Culture — Ron Williams, Chairman & CEO of RW2 Enterprises
It’s a question that any executive or wannabe executive asks: What defines great leadership? Are great leaders born – or can the skills be learned? And how does strong leadership get connected to successful business outcomes? To learn more, I spoke with someone who not only spends much of his time thinking about leadership, he also writes and talks about it – and most importantly, has spent much of his life doing it. Ron Williams is the former Chairman and CEO of Aetna. When he joined Aetna in 2001, its loss from continuing operations was $292 million, with earnings per share loss of $0.46. By the time Williams left in 2011, the company’s full-year operating earnings were $2 billion, with operating earnings per share of $5.17. During his tenure, Aetna was named FORTUNE’s most admired company in the Health Care: Insurance and Managed Care category for three consecutive years. Since Aetna, Williams has continued to help drive leadership in business, including in private equi…
Jul 18, 2017
How to Close the Global Skills Gap — Jake Schwartz, General Assembly
For many Americans, a central reason that the inequality gap may be getting worse can be summed up in one word: Jobs. Job openings have been increasing. And yet as we all know – perhaps personally, perhaps from the news, and definitely from the most recent U.S. election –employment prospects for workers left behind by the current economic expansion seem increasingly dim. Now, there are many causes for this trend, many of which come under fierce debate. One is the skills gap. As LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said recently: “Is there a skill gap, is there not a skill gap? I think when you think about it in the aggregate across the United States, you can debate it. But unquestionably, at the local level, there are skills gaps. There are cities that are hiring, they’re hiring quickly. They’ve got fast-growing industries and they don’t have the talent with the requisite skills to take on those roles.” Jake Schwartz is trying to do something about it. Jake is CEO of General Ass…
Jul 17, 2017
Global Investing, Leadership & Education — Kevin Burke, Notre Dame Institute of Global Investing
The role and importance of global investing continues to grow – and get more complicated. At the same time that globalization trends, cross-border transactions and supply chains, technology and more have flattened the world and extended the range and importance of investing, new counter trends of protectionism and nationalism may be changing the game. The need for understanding, education, and heightened capability around global investing skills arguably has never been higher. What are these skills? Which trends will be most important as we consider the next generation of global investing? Kevin Burke is managing director of the Notre Dame Institute of Global Investing at the University’s Mendoza College of Business. In fact, he’s the Institute’s first managing director; Burke is spearheading the launch of this important effort within one of the world’s leading universities to create a first-class research and education facility that, among its many goals, seeks to help in…
Jul 17, 2017
How the Internet Can Help Stop Human Rights Abuse
This is special edition of Working Capital Conversations. Sadly, there is no shortage of work these days for global human rights abuse investigators. From Syria to Yemen to Sudan and beyond, the horrible ways in which humans torture, starve, and kill other humans seems unending. We all condemn the horrors, but most of us find ourselves with little opportunity to do anything directly. Today I’m talking with someone who does. Alexa Koenig is Executive Director of the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley, a 2015 winner of a prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. As Koenig describes, the Center is “a research organization that brings the tools of science and law together to address some of the world’s most pressing human rights issues.” How much impact has the group already made? The Center has led investigations and research in more than a dozen countries, including Iraq, Rwanda, Uganda, and the former Yugoslavia. It also has launched what it calls…
Jul 17, 2017
The Business Case for Corporate Social Responsibility
Be honest – when you think about Corporate Social Responsibility, what comes to mind? Colleagues taking an afternoon off to build a house or paint a schoolyard? Perhaps, a fundraiser to send money across the world for an emerging environmental concern? Well, if you haven’t been paying attention, a massive transition has occurred in corporate social responsibility, or CSR. CSR is now more about hands on, deeply embedded activity that not only delivers direct benefit to the city or country where corporate employees and leaders visit, but also measurable benefit accruing back to the business itself. When done right, CSR has moved from a nice to have – a highlight in the annual report – to a concrete business opportunity generator. * Why has this transition occurred? * How does this new approach work? * And specifically, how do businesses themselves benefit? One person to ask is a fellow who helps companies do it every day. Paul Benson is Senior Corporate Partnerships Dev…
Jul 17, 2017
Sweat Equity: Inside the New Economy of Mind and Body
You’ve seen them nearly everywhere – from Soul Cycle to Flywheel to Equinox and beyond. Boutique fitness outfits that might seem, at first glance, to be engaging, if not mildly costly places to get or stay in shape. And if that’s how you see them, you’re only half right. The part you’re missing – Big fitness is also big business. In fact, health, wellness and fitness, as the sector is called, is now estimated to be $3.4 trillion global industry. And as you’d expect, that has attracted the full range of financial players: From private equity to big banks, entrepreneurs to seasoned managers. So while fitness has been around for decades, how did this industry experience exponential growth in just the last one? What are the trends – social, fashion, even status – behind the movement? Are they sustainable? Jason Kelly is the person to ask. Jason is Bloomberg’s New York Bureau Chief. His first book was “The New Tycoons: Inside the Trillion Dollar Private Equity Indu…
Jul 17, 2017
Corporate Boards Need Investor Relations Expertise
It’s no secret that corporate boards have increasingly come under increased scrutiny. And for good reason. From corporate scandal to CEO compensation, from cyber security to risk, investors and the general public want to know who’s in charge – and who’s keeping an eye on management. And with this scrutiny, the makeup of corporate boards is slowly shifting, too – away from clubby groups and towards a collection of experts — finance, human resources, law, and more. But what about Investor Relations? As new board level issues emerge from seemingly endless directions – and as investors demand more answer more quickly – should boards more strongly consider adding the IR perspective? Robert D. Ferris certainly argues they should. Ferris is an investor relations and crisis counselor expert, with more than four decades of experience with both domestic and foreign issuers. He’s also a former chairman of National Investor Relations Institute’s Senior Roundtable.
Jul 17, 2017
Investing Into Uncertainty — Lessons from Endowment Investing
Warren Buffett once said on CNBC: “The world—there’s always uncertainty. Now the question is, what do you do with your money?” Buffett may have been talking about public markets – even personal – investing. But even on the institutional side, given that we are continually surrounded by uncertainty and given that stuffing cash under a mattress – while relatively certain – carries no financial return, how should today’s institutional investors think about uncertainty? More specifically, is there a way to consider uncertainty –use it as an investing philosophy – to drive outsized returns? And if so, where can we turn for a guide? It turns out there is a small group of long-horizon end investors who consistently perform well in private markets. Their superior performance in this area of investing has contributed heavily to their overall superior long-term performance. That group is endowments. And if investing into uncertainty feels like a potentially uncomforta…
Jul 17, 2017
Private Equity’s ‘Solution Capital’ — Conversation with Nate Sleeper of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice
Private equity, of course, is a core part of most large institutional investors’ portfolios. How core? As of last year, some 90% of large U.S. public pension funds maintained allocations to private equity – an investment amount that totalled nearly 10% of all U.S. pension assets. In fact, for some global endowments, public pension systems and sovereign wealth funds around the world, the dollar-weighted average proportion of total AUM invested in private equity had increased from 6% to 12% in just the previous two years. But while private equity continues to grow as an asset class, many LPs seek new strategies, moving beyond the traditional fund investments, including co-investments, co-sponsorships, and even direct investments – bypassing the PE firms completely. Within this evolution of investment opportunities, a new approach has quietly been gaining traction. It’s called Solution Capital — highly customised transactions tailored for sellers who want to keep a substantia…
Jul 14, 2017
E-Commerce Innovation with Liza Landsman, Jet Chief Customer Officer
As we approach the depths of the Christmas buying season, today we head straight to the core of holiday spirit: e-commerce and online shopping. Chances are, if you’re shopping this season – or, really, any day of the year – you do some, if not all of it, online. Few industries are bigger than e-commerce, with online sales expected to break $400 billion within three years.
Jul 14, 2017
Strategic Conversations: ‘The Biology of Corporate Survival’
A recent Harvard Business Review piece by Martin Reeves and Simon Levin laid out the case. It’s titled “The Biology of Corporate Survival.” Numbers explain why it matters: After reviewing the histories of more than 30,000 U.S. public firms over 50 years, the authors found that “Businesses are disappearing faster than ever before.”
Jul 14, 2017
Economics of Successful Partnerships: Josh Lerner
The premise behind any business partnership seems obvious: Build a structure and set of rules around performance and profits that not only create agreed upon fairness, but more importantly, position the partnership for long-term success.