• Follow Brian on Twitter

  • RSS Cold Call Podcast Hosted by Brian Kenny

    • Baseball’s Billy Beane Shows Companies the Power of Data
      Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane brought a data driven and unconventional approach to winning baseball games. By setting strategy and articulating the metric to evaluate and acquire the players who would ultimately implement his strategy on the field, Beane’s sabermetrics approach brought about a cultural shift in baseball from the players and m […]
    • Did Entrepreneur Ernesto Tornquist Help or Hurt Argentina?
      Professor Geoffrey Jones examines the career of Ernesto Tornquist, a cosmopolitan financier considered to be the most significant entrepreneur in Argentina at the end of the 19th century. He created a diversified business group, linked to the political elite, integrating Argentina into the trading and financial networks of the first global economy. The case, […]
    • Should U.S. Companies Still Care About the Paris Climate Change Agreement?
      American President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change just over a year ago. What does that mean for the role of United States companies and business leaders in confronting climate change challenges? Assistant Professor Vincent Pons looks at the historical debate and what the road ahead looks like for the role of business in […]
    • Two Million Fake Accounts: Sales Misconduct at Wells Fargo
      Coming out of the financial crisis, Wells Fargo was one of the world’s largest and most successful banks, viewed as a role model in how to manage in times of crisis. The news of its sales misconduct – opening more than 2 million fake accounts – in 2016 rocked consumer confidence and inundated the news. Professor Suraj Srinivasan discusses how sales culture, […]
    • The Transformation of Microsoft
      In early 2015, Amy Hood, CFO of Microsoft, and the rest of the senior leadership team faced a set of fundamental choices. The firm had opportunities to serve customers in ways that would be associated with higher growth but lower margin. Professor Fritz Foley discusses how leaders faced these difficult decisions, and worked to get investors and employees on […]
  • Advertisements

Entry #1 – Dean Nohria’s World Introductory Tour

First Stop – London, England

The Economist world headquarters

Dean Nohria literally hit the ground running for the kick-off of his international tour, landing at 5 a.m. at Heathrow Airport and arriving in downtown London just in time to freshen up for a 9 a.m. meeting with a team of journalists from The Economist. Much of the discussion focused on the role and reputation of business in the wake of the economic crisis and what business schools can contribute to changes and improvements.  Nitin spoke at length about the importance getting students to think deeply about their sense of purpose in life — not just in regard  to themselves but to the greater society. The Economist editors were also interested in learning more about the School’s shift to being a more global institution. Nitin spoke about our global research centers and the increase in the number of  international cases.

We sped from the Economist to the BBC radio headquarters at Bush House, where Nitin spent more than 30 minutes taping an interview with Lesley Curwen of BBC World Service for a segment to be broadcast next  Monday afternoon.. In addition to further discussion about business reputation and globalization, they spent time discussing the Tony Hayward situation.

The Dean spent the afternoon meeting with HBS alumni. This trip is part of a consultation period he’s embarking on. He will be meeting with alumni and business leaders, among others, to engage them in a discussion about the future of HBS and how we can ensure that our graduates are equipped to be leaders in the 21st century.

Next up . . . Mumbai. Familiar surroundings for Nitin. Completely new to me. And let’s just say that “fever pitch” doesn’t begin to describe how excited India is to welcome home their native son – the new dean of Harvard Business School.

Stay tuned.

Advertisements

Shanghaied

Blog Entry – March 2010

While still in the throes of jetlag and before the images of this past week fade from memory I wanted to share some of my experiences and takeaways from Shanghai. Before anyone takes offense at the title of this entry, I looked it up to be certain it wasn’t offensive. Here is the definition I found at answers.com:

To be shanghaied is “to be kidnapped & put to work as a sailor on a ship – or die. The term was coined due to the practice having been popularized in Shanghai.”

Now I was not kidnapped but I was captivated by this vast, densely populated, hyper-kinetic city. I was there for a series of symposia and alumni events at the Harvard Center Shanghai, a new venue where Harvard Business School is offering executive education programs for Chinese business executives. With three Mandarin phrases under my belt I set off on my first trip to China filled with anticipation – China did not disappoint.

My only stop was Shanghai but with a population of 19,210,000 in an area covering 2,700 square miles it’s a reasonably ambitious place to start. It feels every bit that large. The Mandarin interpretation of Shanghai is “go to the sea”. It’s a perfect name for this seaport bisected by the Huangpu River – a city built for business that recently surpassed Hong Kong in terms of shipping traffic. Shanghai leaves the politics to Beijing.

What stood out to me were the stark contrasts. Shanghai is at once ultra-modern and ancient. Chic and shabby. Frenetic and calm. The city skyline looks like it was inspired by the Jetsons but stroll a block in any direction from Nanjing Road in the main commercial district and you may as well have traveled back 100 years in time. The high speed Maglev Train blows past cyclists on vintage bikes and mopeds at 268 mph. In the Pudong District, which was covered with rice paddies a mere 15 years ago, state-of-the art high rise office buildings are raised in record time by workers using bamboo scaffolding and hand tools. It is both terrifying and mesmerizing to watch.

The Shanghainese bore stark contrasts as well in terms of education, economic and social standing. There are vast gulfs that divide the wealthiest from the most impoverished. There is rising middle class and a spirit of entrepreneurialism that I haven’t sensed in other places. It really feels as though anything is possible here. One common trait I observed was the work ethic. Everyone, from service workers to constructions workers to business professionals approached their job with single minded energy and enthusiasm. They work all hours every day. Sunday morning? You bet. Construction crews were working away at 8am. Seeing it up close made me wonder how other countries (like ours) will be able to compete with this giant once it gets all of its engines revving in sync.

I guess I sort of expected the work ethic because it goes with communist stereotype. What I didn’t expect to see was families flying kites together in beautifully landscaped parks or communities congregating in garden parks to play cards and chess – things they’ve probably been doing for centuries. I was taken aback by the Chinese citizen’s ability to retreat from the frenetic pace of the city and enjoy their new environs in very traditional ways.

I wanted to chronicle my journey through Twitter but was unable to access it, or Facebook or YouTube because those servers are not accessible in China – a limiting contrast for a country that is trying to get people to know it better.

Bottom line, I loved Shanghai. It’s an exciting city and one that I hope to visit again. I’ve no doubt that whenever I return there will be new things to see.