Alexandra van Arkel

  • Alumni

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Azeez, thank you for addressing the opportunities and challenges of digitization on the education supply chain. I wholeheartedly believe in the potential to leverage technology to personalize and enhance K-12 student learning. I agree that if India’s National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) can build the capacity to implement learning through interactive online videos, the data generated could significantly shorten the feedback loop between teachers and students.

The one-size-fits-all-model is outdated and ripe for disruption; however, I remain skeptical as to whether schools in India will be able to provide the hardware or basic connectivity to implement a new learning model for students. I believe NCERT’s effort to create digital books and an online content repository is an important first step in providing online learning options to the 300 million students it serves. NCERT must find ways to overcome India’s limited internet penetration and digital literacy across teachers and students. BYJU, an EdTech start-up based in Bangalore is also working on delivering personalized online learning experiences to children through a mobile app. With 8 million downloads, 400,000 paid subscribers and venture funding from Sequoia India, Chan Zuckerberg and others since its introduction in 2011, the business appears to be growing quickly. [1] I would like to understand how BYJU has been so successful given connectivity limitations in India and wonder if NCERT could gain any insights by studying BYJU’s effective digital content distribution model.


On December 1, 2017, Alexandra van Arkel commented on Guinness and Brexit: What’s it all A-stout? :

I agree with your proposal to maintain production in the medium term and re-evaluate closing the Belfast bottling and canning factory after the Brexit details are finalized. As you mentioned, Diageo currently holds a favorable position as the 7th largest company by market capitalization on the FTSE. It would be in the UK’s best interest to support Diageo during upcoming trade and tariff regulations. In advance of these negotiations, Diageo should take the necessary actions to preserve its relationship with the UK government – shutting down the Belfast factory is not worth the reputational risk. Furthermore, Diageo should consider the additional costs of shutting down the Northern Ireland factory and opening another factory in Ireland that might offset the favorable savings on transport costs, such as increased labor costs, complex union dynamics, upfront capital outlay, additional government regulations etc. I’d encourage Diageo to consider other actions to encourage the UK government to negotiate a “soft border” between Ireland and Northern Ireland on its behalf. Diageo should complete a full assessment of its current supply chain and identify areas of improvement. I’d imagine cost savings might result if Diageo streamlined production and transportation among its Guinness plant in Dublin, its bottling and canning factory and its distribution center. Finally, are there alternative ways to transport materials and/or finished goods to eliminate costly delays at the border? I like Dave Anderson’s proposal to lobby for a “Fast-Pass” for Guinness border crossings.

On December 1, 2017, Alexandra van Arkel commented on Shooting Oneself in the Foot(ball) :

Thank you- what an interesting application of TOM. I am fascinated by your take on Brexit’s potential disruption of the supply chain for the English Premier League and the global football landscape. Pursuing a multi-club ownership strategy seems reasonable from a talent development standpoint, my concern is that this might result in a mismatch in the identity of the players with club fans. Building on Fritz’ response above, ultimately, the most important thing for key stakeholders within the English Premier League, other than winning, is engagement with the fans. From what I understand, the strength of the Spanish league is its ability to use star players to tap into Spain’s intense regional pride during competition. Would sourcing and developing talent using the MCO model dilute the ties between the player and/or club and the fans?

On December 1, 2017, Alexandra van Arkel commented on The Grape Depression :

While Constellation Brands should invest in innovative, high-tech water management strategies to preserve the short and medium-term health of its California vineyards, I agree with the comments above that smart regional diversification would increase the long-term viability of the company. Given the extreme effects of climate change, implementing your short and medium-term plan to spread best practices in water management across vineyards and wineries may prove ineffective. I believe Constellation Brands’ best option is to seek new partnerships with suppliers in Oregon and Washington, which have more reliable climates, while maintaining operations in California due to the longstanding brand popularity of Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley wine. As climate change impacts yield and price of California wine, drinkers in the US may be forced to acquire a new taste from other regions. One wine blogger is extremely satisfied with her wine from the Pacific Northwest:

“All the climatic factors that make Oregon and Washington wines reliable translate directly to value for all as drinkers. The trifecta of climate, flavor, and price makes these bottles safe bets, regardless of brand name or vintage. Happily, reliability isn’t synonymous with boredom, and there are plenty of varieties and subregions to explore comfortably.” [1]

One point that you made that I want to push back on is that margins would suffer as Constellation Brands moves into new territories. Instead of transporting WIP back to California, could the entire process take place locally in the new region? This may benefit Constellation Brands from a bottom line and supply chain perspective.


Given the severity of the problem, I don’t believe Sierra Nevada is doing enough to mitigate the impact of climate change on its supply chain. As you mentioned, Sierra Nevada is facing accelerating declines in the availability of hops and clean water. Since 2007, the company has made what I consider to be minor incremental changes in response to natural resource threats. Unless Sierra Nevada quickly diversifies the regions from which it sources its hops, the company will face increasing supply constraints, resulting in a costly ripple effect through the supply chain. In order to fully assess Sierra Nevada’s existing expansion strategy, I would want to understand management’s decision to open a second brewery in Asheville, NC. Did this make sense from a sourcing perspective? Who are the primary suppliers? Do we have any performance results from this experience?

Furthermore, Sierra Nevada has the potential to fundamentally change the craft brewing industry by forcing its suppliers to adhere to sustainability standards, rather than allowing suppliers to sign up for this voluntarily. The company should be more selective with its supply partners to ensure that their practices meet company standards. You also mentioned that Sierra Nevada grows its own hops adjacent to its brewery to help control supply. Can the company expand this effort to gain additional control of its hops supply or are there space and/or infrastructure constraints limiting Sierra Nevada from building out this capability?

On December 1, 2017, Alexandra van Arkel commented on Stitch Fix: Bringing Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to Fashion :

Personally, I disagree that StitchFix has a competitive advantage that will allow the company to outcompete Amazon and other online retailers. The focus on personalization through AI is important but with limited inventory, this concept can only go so far. When shopping online or at a physical store, I’d imagine most people already know what they’re looking for and might resist paying extra to shop with a stylist who doesn’t have a true perspective on their body type or style. If I’m going to pay for a stylist, I’d want to have that experience in person and get instant feedback on the look. I can’t speak for all shoppers, but I’m perfectly satisfied with the “filter” button on the websites where I shop. Here are a few key flaws I see in the current StitchFix model:
1. Subscribers – Online subscription models are nearly impossible, and Stitch Fix does not have the marketing power or brand recognition to acquire and retain subscribers.
2. Cost – Unlike Amazon, StitchFix does not have the scale to gain purchasing power over its suppliers.
3. Shopping behavior/existing competitors – For many, shopping is either reactionary (need a dress for a party tonight) or a treat (just for fun with plenty of time). There are so many alternatives (brick-and-mortar, Amazon, Rent the Runway) that already satisfy shoppers, some of which use AI to personalize outfits and pieces for consumers.