Ice Cream

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On December 1, 2017, Ice Cream commented on After Brexit, Barclays Should Exit :

This is definitely very alarming for Brexit. That being said, I do think some of the risks might not be as severe as have been portrayed in the media as Bettina eludes to. While I think the issues you bring up are important, I think the more critical challenge Barclays faces is the fact that the local UK market accounts for more than half of its total revenue [1]. Moving deposits abroad is a risky move and might not gain acceptance from the local market. Instead, I believe Barclays should focus on developing a strategy to smoothen the expected GDP decline in the UK due to Brexit, which will naturally result in a decrease in banking revenue pools. In order to do this, Barclays should consider the following in addition to the ideas you suggested:

– Invest in areas of growth outside the UK: With an expected declining banking industry in the UK, Barclays will have to consider investments in other countries. Barclays already has presence in several countries around the world and should invest heavily to ensure that the decline of UK revenues are compensated by growth elsewhere. This does not mean that it should neglect its large UK business, but that another source of revenue is critical.

– Engage local regulators: Barclays should work with local regulators to get favorable terms for itself and the rest of the banking industry. While the populist opinion is important, the government cannot suffer the decline of the UK banking industry [2].

I think Barclays is shortsighted if they have not developed a strategic roadmap as you suggested. Failure to appease shareholders will only lead to a further decline in share price. The company needs to engage its clients and customers to comprehensively assess the implications on Brexit and develop an action plan to share with its investors and clients.

[1] “Barclays Group Turnover Worldwide,”
[2] Monger, Tim, “What Brexit Means for Financial Institutions,”

Very interesting article, Yash. This is a challenge that various tech organizations in the UK are facing after Brexit. I completely understand your concerns with R&D and acquisition of talent. In the short-term, I do think this will pose a problem, but I think there are several longer term levers that can be used to mitigate this risk. Based on research conducted by McKinsey [1], the following levers should be employed by organizations like JLR to increase talent availability:

– Increase proportion of women working: The UK, with its 65M people, has a large workforce with the relevant skills for JLR. A large part of that population is women that don’t work, but have the expertise and background that JLR requires. By creating an environment more conducive for these individuals, JLR will be able to tap into a large part of the workforce that wasn’t utilized earlier. This lever can be used in both the short-term and long-term.

– Invest in skill working building: In order to sustain any short-term initiatives by JLR and the UK government, JLR should also undertake relevant long-term projects. One of them can be in developing institutions that teach individuals the skills required by JLR. Through this, the company can effectively regulate the supply of domestic workers with the right skills.

The above two levers cannot completely mitigate the talent shortage due to Brexit, however. In the short-term, I do think one alternative is developing an R&D center outside the UK as you mentioned. In the longer term, JLR will have to develop domestic capabilities if it wants to remain a truly British organization.

[1] Atsmon, Yuval, “The case for (cautious) post-Brexit optimism,”

On December 1, 2017, Ice Cream commented on From Harvard to HarvardX: Are we there yet? :

Thanks for the interesting read. While I believe, online education is a key growth area for traditional universities, I don’t think it will replace traditional education anytime soon. Given this, I don’t think HarvardX is the silver bullet. While there is a great deal of research that suggests that online education is as effective, if not more than classroom education [1], I think there are several aspects of classroom education that I think are valuable and cannot be replaced:

– Customizability of learning: Learning cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach. You have touched upon why online learning can help enable customizing curriculums. On the flip side, classroom learning can enable the teacher to tailor his / her style and content based on the pace of his students. Similarly, students that are falling behind and require additional help can approach their teachers for immediate help, which is not available in the current online learning environment.
– Job opportunities: Employers currently place a high value on elite institutions like Harvard that they do not place on programs like HarvardX. While, online learning may gain acceptability in the future, the status quo will prevail until that time.
– Human interaction / networking: Part of the benefit of an education is the human interaction and networking component of it. Online learning programs like HarvardX have tried to emulate this interaction through forums and social networking components, but these are not as effective as in-person meetings.

I still think that online learning is critical for the 21st century and will provide significant benefit, especially in developing countries; however, I don’t think they will replace classroom learning in the near future.

[1] Stack, Steven, “Learning outcomes in an online vs traditional course,” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning,

On December 1, 2017, Ice Cream commented on The Future of Logistics at DHL: 3D Printing to Disrupt :

Great read! I agree that 3D printing will become an integral part of the lives of individuals and businesses in the near future. I also do think that highly customizable spare parts will be one of the first areas addressed. However, I’m not sure if DHL is the best positioned to capitalize on this opportunity. Since 3D printing costs are predicted to drop dramatically over the next few years [1], the capital expenditure on 3D printing equipment will eventually become negligible. The value proposition 3D printing offers is cost and convenience. I believe DHL does not add to either. DHL does not have expertise in manufacturing, thus does not have a competitive advantage on the cost side. Additionally, other companies like Walmart have a much larger footprint and can provide consumers with proximity if they need to pick up a part quickly, thus offering more convenience. That being said, integrating DHL’s delivery service with the 3D printing business may lead to reduced lead times. I, however, believe these times are negligible. In my mind, DHL incorporating 3D printing into their core business is no different from them going into e-commerce. I don’t think it’s a great idea given that it’s not their core competency. However, if they do establish themselves in this industry early, they may gain significant footing due to the first mover advantage. Only time will tell.

[1] Nichols, Greg, “Promising trend for innovators: 3D printer prices are falling,”

On November 30, 2017, Ice Cream commented on Is Child Labour the Only Way Forward for Tesla? :

Really enjoyed reading Alex!

While I understand that part of the challenge here is that DRC holds so much of the global cobalt supply, I do think we can draw parallels with the textile industry in South / South East Asia given the competitive advantage that these countries have due to lower labor costs and proximity to raw materials. In order to combat child labor, apparel brands pulled two main levers:

– Many brands put pressure on suppliers through regular audits. Since many suppliers weren’t motivated by penalties, brands started offering incentives and higher prices to suppliers that were able to adhere to their standards [1]. While most of the cobalt in the world is produced in the DRC, it does look like the industry in the DRC is quite fragmented. [2] Creating competition within the local cobalt industry may result certain mining companies moving away from the use of child labor. It is important to note, however, that the incentives that Tesla offers will have to be sufficient enough to offset the increased cost of regular labor.

– In order to create long term sustainable change, however, Tesla will have to work with local governments to create regulation around child labor. This will help Tesla gain significant goodwill from the public, in addition to achieving their goal of suppliers without child labor. Researches that studied the Bangladeshi textile industry found that most other levers were short-term in nature and that putting kids in school was the most effective way to transition from child labor.

I believe that Tesla should work with suppliers in the short term, and with local government in the medium term to ensure continuity of child-labor free cobalt.

[1] Bain, Mark, “Researchers have identified a very simple, universal solution to child labor’s vicious cycle of poverty,”

[2] Yager, Thomas, “2013 Minerals Yearbook: Congo,”

Great article! I agree with the recommendations that you’ve laid out, but think two additional steps must be taken for this effort to be successful:

• Apply pressure on suppliers to live up to standards: Large CPG organizations like General Mills have significant bargaining power with their suppliers. A recent McKinsey study suggests that while consumer companies are driving towards sustainability, they are not applying the required pressure on their suppliers [1]. Levers such as developing strict guidelines and conducting regular audits can ensure that suppliers are aligned with General Mills’ sustainability goals. Some companies are leveraging digitization to collect supplier sustainability data remotely, which can be used to offer incentives or impose penalties.

• Provide transparency of sustainability metrics: While General Mills has provided some clarity on their sustainability goals and evaluation criteria (as shown in the Sustainability Update chart), in order to gain consumer trust, the company should be completely honest and transparent with its consumers. Research shows that 21st century consumers expect this from the organizations they purchase from [2]. Not only will this help educate consumers about the progress of General Mills’ sustainability efforts, but will also hold them accountable to the goals that they’ve set forth.

[1] Bové Anne-Titia. “Starting at the source: Sustainability in supply chains.” McKinsey & Company, November 2016,

[2] Whelan, Tensie. “The Comprehensive Business Case for Sustainability.” October 21, 2016,