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On November 30, 2017, Calvin commented on Pfizer’s Prescription For A Digital Supply Chain :

Foran, I thought your essay was well-researched and well-defended.

Having worked for Pfizer on several of their recent transactions, I was hoping to speak to the fact that the company is so hopelessly ineffective at research and development. Yet, I believe that this digital supply chain may have yield synergies that would help improve R&D yield and productivity (despite this not being the supply chain’s top priority).

Specifically, I see opportunities in allowing scientists to access data more quickly and securely. With an integrated ERP system, a scientist working on drug development in one area of the company could quickly access resources from colleagues in a different part of the world, cutting down on redundancies and communication time. This is one of the key areas that Mirko Senatore, director of the Network Solutions & Excellence Team EMEA (part of the Global Supply Chain organization) at Pfizer, discusses (below):

Additionally, I see this as an opportunity for Pfizer to improve the product quality, regulatory compliance and operational efficiency – all starting from supply chain optimization and digitization. The characteristics involved with a digital supply chain not only helps with manufacturing, but can also set the discipline and tone that would create a more successful R&D environment for the company. The article below specifies the manufacturing benefits, but R&D could stand to learn from these best practices as well:

Alex, I thought your essay was well-researched, articulate, and well-defended. I am sufficiently convinced about the power of telemedicine, especially as it relates to the Santa Clara hospital system.

I would note, however, that telemedicine is not without its risks. Firstly, there are cybersecurity, privacy, and safety issues that need to be sufficiently addressed before telemedicine is rolled out more broadly. Secondly, is the hospital administration system open-minded? Oftentimes, they are the constituents who need to be convinced. The burden of proof is upon the technology provider to convince the hospital administration that it improves clinical outcomes (you provide compelling statistics above) while reducing costs. Thirdly, are physicians bought in? Would this reduce or diminish the role of person-to-person, mouth-to-mouth contact between physicians and patients? Finally, how do patients feel about this? Does this cheapen the medical experience?

Some of these risks are outlined in the article below. This is a compelling trend that will become the future. But when?

Outside Borders (Michael Reichard?), I thought your essay was well-researched and well-defended.

I would not only agree with your contentions, but also assert that there are secondary and tertiary effects to a mass exodus of bankers out of London to a new home, perhaps Frankfurt. Specifically, though Canary Wharf would dry up, this would be a boon to the various financial centers in the EU that find themselves with a flood of newly-displaced bankers.

This would stimulate the local economy, (likely) raise rents in the area, and contribute to a trickle-down effect of wealth creation locally. Indeed, major news sources are already covering this shift (such as the below):

This would not only impact rents in CBD (central business district) commercial real estate, but also the surrounding residentaial neighborhoods. One may view this as a positive effect of globalization, in the face of a highly disruptive, expensive, and attention-dominating phenomenon of moving a bank’s regional headquarters.

I believe this is nearly a zero sum game – with London losing out and Frankfurt gaining. Friction / transaction costs in the process would represent the difference.

On November 30, 2017, Calvin commented on Trade wars for aircraft OEMs: Can Boeing keep cruising? :

Lynn, your essay was well-written, well-researched, and articulate.

I took a slightly different approach when viewing the issue in terms of what makes Boeing competitive. Some might call this the other side of the story, but I believe it reflects an economic reality that Boeing needs to cope with to stay “aloft.”

According to Boeing, Airbus has received over $20 billion of illegal launch subsidies from European Union countries. This means that Airbus is effectively being subsidized in its manufacturing and production, leading to an ability to charge lower prices for its aircraft to maintain the same level of profitability. Furthermore, the WTO has ruled these subsidies as illegal.

The claim can be found here:

Correspondingly, the U.S. government has also aided Boeing unfairly. However, this is to a much smaller magnitude – under $1 billion. In the context of a fundamentally unfair trade situation, one may argue that Boeing needs to resort to these lobbying measures to maintain an even playing field. Why shouldn’t Boeing lobby the U.S. government to implement these tariffs if the competition is being subsidized by the EU?

On November 30, 2017, Calvin commented on L’Oreal’s Quest to Beautify Their Carbon Footprint :

Bridget, thank you for shedding light on how a large corporation is making strides to reduce its carbon footprint (while growing its manufacturing footprint)!

I respectfully disagree with your assessment that L’Oreal should consider land use and how that may be better used for food vs. beauty production. How are they supposed to manufacture their products (by using natural ingredients) without relying on the underlying farmland and natural factors of production? I am not sure how that is possible.

Furthermore, I really appreciate how much research you’ve done into their efforts to-date. Digging further, I found out that L’Oreal makes a big difference in the lives of the farmers. By supporting 500 small farm-owners / farmers in Malaysia, they are creating jobs and putting people to work. The article is here:

Isn’t that a form of sustainability in and of itself? If people continue to demand L’Oreal products and they are able to support farmers around the world, shouldn’t we applaud that? I wonder why it would be a better use of the farmland to generate a source of food vs. cosmetic products if (1) consumers also demand cosmetic products, (2) the companies are doing this in a sustainable way, and (3) jobs are being created as a result.

On November 30, 2017, Calvin commented on Is ADM Ready to Feed a Warmer World? :

Oliver, I very much enjoyed your thoughtfully written essay. I agree with your analysis, and believe you can also consider the competitive dynamics and how they shape ADM’s decision-making.

How does ADM face competitive threats in the face of volatile weather and your proposed responses to climate change? Specifically, you discuss change adaptation vs. mitigation, the use of digital technologies, and the formation of closer relationships with its crop suppliers. However, its competitors (Cargill, Wilmar, Olam, etc) are likely doing the same. Accordingly, it would be reasonable to assume that their responses to climate change would (1) drive up prices in the global commodities market while (2) making it harder for ADM to compete. To cite your U.S. Navy example, what happens when all of the global agriculture companies move toward the at-risk drought areas?

To further this point, it appears as though ADM has already been priced out of certain markets as a result of various geo-climate (among other) reasons. In 2016, ADM decided to quite its global sugar-trading activities, citing margin pressures. Somebody else must be entering that market instead (after all, we still have market demand for sugar). What are they doing differently that allows them to remain competitive while ADM exits the sugar market? The article below highlights this phenomenon:

I believe that generally, agribusiness has become more competitive as a result of global warming. ADM cannot view this problem in a vacuum – it must confront the issues in the context of its competitors and their responses as well.