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.
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Associate Director, Entrepreneurial Studies