Archive for March, 2013

Exploring Global Business and Corporate Social Responsibility with Green Mountain Coffee-Keurig on Day 4

March 7th, 2013 by hhoran

Karen Gallagher, Senior Marketing Director at Green Mountain Coffee – Keurig and mother of a current Holy Cross junior, braved the snow on the fourth day of ELW 2013 to make sure the students could learn about global business and corporate social responsibility (or, CSR).  As was a theme of the week, the day was focused on group work.  Karen kicked off the session giving an overview of GMCR/Keurig, highlighting the company’s mission and values, the way they communicate (or, don’t communicate) these values to all invested constituencies – employees, customers, farmers, etc – and the challenges that GMCR/Keurig is facing.  She talked about a couple of particularly interesting initiatives that really showcased how, as an employer, GMCR/Keurig differentiates itself, including the fact that all employees are allotted 52 hours per year to do service work at the location of their choice.  As students at Holy Cross, where the idea of being “men and women for others” is important, you could see a lot of the students intrigued that a company would do something like that.  Then, Karen also talked a lot about the importance of marketing, using examples of particularly effective television ads, to show how good marketing can clearly communicate who a company is and what they stand for and, as a result, build brand recognition and loyalty.

With the overview complete, Karen sent the students off to work in their teams to put together a presentation on how GMCR/Keurig could to a better job communicating its initiatives internally and externally as well as how the company could create a sustainable competitive advantage.  The students were charged with creating a presentation highlighting where the current strengths were and then suggesting tangible action items that could enhance GMCR/Keurig’s communications.

With just two hours to work on this presentation, the results were impressive.  The students suggested things like revamping the K-cup box to really highlight what the company is doing, creating an “Employee of the Year” award highlighting someone who really embodies GMCR/Keurig’s commitment to CSR and coming up with ways to better facilitate everyone participating in service opportunities and marketing those experiences so customers are aware they are happening.  All of the teams agreed that the “stuff” GMCR/Keurig is doing is positive – they are committed and really incorporate their corporate values into the business, but they need to figure out a way to make the initiatives clearer and broadcast them to a wider audience.

The day wrapped up with an exciting surprise – the two teams of students that Karen deemed the winners of the presentations were awarded their own Vue single cup brewers, the latest product by Keurig!  Some of the students asked to have them shipped to Holy Cross – so they’ll be ready to help them cram through the end of the semester – and a couple of the students asked them to be sent home as a nice surprise for their lucky parents!

The snow is going to roll in tomorrow so we’ll see what that means for Day 5 of ELW but, regardless, we’ve had 4 jam packed days of learning and teamwork and I think all of the students have already learned quite a bit about both careers in business and leadership skills.

As always, don’t forget to “Like” us on FACEBOOK and look for our WIBSBP and ELW groups on LinkedIN!

Helene

Helene Horan
Associate Director, Entrepreneurial Studies

Day 3 of ELW: How to be ethical and why you shouldn’t buy a BMW.

March 6th, 2013 by hhoran

Day 3 of ELW 2013 focused on leading a company and handling “ethical pitfalls”.  Led by Tom Patton ’86, President and CEO of CASMED, and Carolyn Risoli ’86, former president of Marc by Marc Jacobs and current principal at CRisoli Consulting, the student teams spent the day reading real case studies that the executives had written and debating among themselves what the ethical questions were and how they should be decided.

The afternoon was particularly interesting as the students had to read a number of brief scenarios and then respond with how they would have acted.  Tom and Carolyn started by posing the question of: If you take a company pen home from work, is that stealing?  What about 5 pens?  10?  A box?  Your desk chair?  The students quickly realized how tricky business ethics can become as most of them thought that taking a pen wasn’t necessarily stealing but saw their logic unravel as Tom challenged them to thinking about larger items.  Another similar scenario dealt with the question of business reimbursements: If your company gives you a $7 cab ride home if you work until after 7 o’clock, is it ok to take that cab ride to a restaurant rather than home?  What about going out with your friends and then getting the cab?  The debate was lively, with lots of different points of view expressed, and Tom and Carolyn were able to weigh in with how they’ve actually navigated these situations in their roles as executives.

In addition to addressing business ethics, Tom and Carolyn talked to the students about the importance of being careful in business and how quickly things can change.  Tom offered the advice that you need to be sure to live within your means, and be financially careful, because as quickly as things can get good, they can take a turn for the worse.  Citing examples of young business people he knew, he cautioned the students against falling into the trap of wanting the biggest house and the flashiest car.  “The BMW can wait until later,” he said.

The other big message of the day?  Tom and Carolyn talked about how it’s easy to be ethical when things are good.  What’s important is making sure to remain ethical even when it’s challenging to do so.  They encouraged the students to think about two things: first, would you want to see your actions reported in the New York Times? And, second, would you be proud to tell the person you most admire – spouse, child, parent, friend, etc – about what you did?  If you’re not comfortable with both, they said, you need to re-think what you’re doing.

Overall, another really interesting day and one that got the students thinking more about what to do when things aren’t going well and how important it is for a leader to be steadfast in what he or she believes is right!

Tonight the students are off to Boston for the HC Alumni Entrepreneur Group’s Networking Session.  All of the students in ELW have been challenged to meet at least two new people tonight, so we’ll see how they do…

As always, don’t forget to “Like” us on FACEBOOK and look for our WIBSBP and ELW groups on LinkedIN!

Helene

Helene Horan
Associate Director, Entrepreneurial Studies

Should company culture be a primary or secondary concern in the business world?

March 6th, 2013 by hhoran

Day 2 of the 2013 Executive Leadership Workshop focused on the importance of business culture in creating a sustainable business. Tom Brennan ’86, CEO of Goshido, ran the students through a series of group exercises to get them thinking about whether or not a company’s leadership team should make company culture a primary or secondary priority.

The students engaged in two debates: the first debate was focused on the question of whether company culture should be primary or secondary. However, it was the secondary debate that really got the students going! This debate was based on a Harvard Business School case study about a crisis on Northwest Airlines where customers were stranded on a grounded plane for 8+ hours due to inclimate weather. There were three teams: the customers, the CEOs and the Board of Directors.

Their challenge? The three groups had to try to appease one another – the customers wanted a settlement, the CEOs wanted to keep their jobs and the Board was worried about publicity.

Tom Brennan’s goal was to get the students thinking about the challenges that emerge in companies, particularly between different groups of constituencies, and to understand how communications need to go in order for a company to be sustainable. Tom was pretty clear that in his opinion company culture had to be a primary focus. However, after getting all riled up in the debate, I’m not sure all of the students were complete sure that they agreed.

Today’s topic: Business Ethics. The students are currently mid-discussion of whether or not it’s ok to take a pen home from work. Is that stealing? Or, is it ok…after all, it’s just a pen? Check back tomorrow to see how ethical this group really is!

Ideas for new apps created on Day 1 of the 2013 Executive Leadership Workshop!

March 5th, 2013 by hhoran

Yesterday kicked off the 2013 Executive Leadership Workshop and one of the things the students definitely learned was that working a full day (they started at 8:30 am and were busy until 7 pm) is challenging!

Peter George ’81 started off the week talking about how to start and build a business. He was accompanied by Geoff Oblak and Gary Kramer. The students’ challenge for the day: work with their teams to come up with an educational app and then pitch it to the day’s three executive teachers who were acting as Venture Capitalists.

While all the teams came up with interesting ideas, two teams were ultimately rewarded funding: Michael Biggins ’16, Claudia Bechtold ’15, Maggie MacMullin ’16 and Michael Tucker ’14 came up with the idea for BookChat, an online database for professors to post excerpts of readings and where students can engage in online discussions. Nolan Kiernan ’15, Matt Devine ’15, Brendan McGill ’14 and Sophie Haggerty ’16 came up with the idea for SyncroNote, an online note taking software with an audio recording technology. I’m not going to include too many details, in case any of these teams decide to really run with the idea, but the judges were all impressed.

Stay posted for updates on the rest of this week’s workshop. Today’s topic is “Using Culture and Values to Build a Sustainable Business”. Currently the students are split up in groups prepping for a debate on whether culture should be a primary or secondary concern in companies. We’ll see who comes up with the most persuasive argument…