Isabel Khoo

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On November 29, 2017, Isabel Khoo commented on Escaping to Tasmania :

Such an interesting article. Thank you for sharing. Moving to Tasmania is a rational choice. Yet raises the question, is it sustainable? Invariably, climate change will impact Tasmania’s weather, and prompt the search for a longer term solution.

One potential solution I see is for Brown Brother’s to partner with other agricultural businesses and invest in alternative solutions to allow agricultural products to flourish under extreme weather conditions. Agriculture remains a significant proportion of Australian’s economy. Live stock and produce are also impacted by these weather conditions. Moreover, the Australian government has been comparatively more proactive on the climate change front. Brown Brother’s should also explore grant funding and R&D subsidies from government agencies.

The other opportunity I see is to create a new wine product that has higher alcohol content. Alcohol consumption in Australia is higher than the average OECD economy. Certainly, the business case for this kind of product could be defensible.

On November 29, 2017, Isabel Khoo commented on Kraft Heinz’s Planters: can Mr. Peanut take the heat? :

Thank you for sharing and what an interesting article.

Multilateral coordination among players at all levels to address climate change seems like an insurmountable task. My immediate reaction to this piece was diversification and R&D are your only solutions when face with market failure. Yet which first? Do you invest in R&D solutions for a product which may go out of favor 20 years from now? Or do you diversify and potentially bring about the early demise of your core product by promoting other nuts that take away market share from peanuts.

Yet, even if you diversify, the climate change issue will affect all nuts and R&D will be inevitable. As such, my recommendation would be to partner with other nut manufacturers to invest in potential solutions, splitting the R&D costs among the partners. The question then becomes, how do you encourage growers to employ these techniques at a potential cost today?

On November 29, 2017, Isabel Khoo commented on A Healthcare Organization’s Planned Parenthood with Digitalization :

Fantastic read and fascinating article. Thank you for sharing this piece on such an important issue.

I think this is an excellent strategy for Planned Parenthood both in terms of achieving its mission to empower and educate women on fertility without prejudice as well as navigate the current political climate. I think the Planned Parenthood brand is part of its competitive advantage as it looks to compete with smaller telemedicine organizations. Not only is the name widely recognized, it has also built credibility among a prospective user base as an organization that advocates on behalf of woman’s health, prioritizing their fundamental rights before politics or criticism.

I am less concerned about the issues around privacy from the vantage point that Zach raised. I actually think this digital strategy over comes a huge barrier to entry – ie. the stigma of potentially being seen entering a facility. I am however worried about hippa. Hipaa regulation in the age of technology is largely undefined and continues to be a grey era that healthcare startups grapple with. As such, for Planned Parenthood, there is regulatory risk associated with this strategy. Moreover, the investment in technology required to secure patient data could be extensive.

Yet, to me, the potential upside significantly outweighs the risk/costs associated by this strategy. The ability to reach a broader population, to allow women to make more educated decisions about their body, and to reduce the stigma around sexual/reproductive health, is not only the right thing to do but is also the right business thing to do. In an era where FemTech is attracting significant capital investment, Planned Parenthood is well positioned to ride this funding wave.

On November 29, 2017, Isabel Khoo commented on Ralph Lauren’s Way Forward: A Move Toward Demand-Driven Supply Chain :

Such an interesting read! Thank you!

Digitization and the rise of fast fashion has polarized the retail industry. On the one hand you have companies emphasizing the “fashion” component and reorganizing their supply chain and inventory management to bring the latest trends to market at the lowest price. On the other hand, you have “legacy” and “heritage” brands who have emphasized the brand and/or quality aspect of their product and looked to communicate this brand identity through charging higher prices.

Ralph Lauren seems to fall under the later category – with a narrow suite of products sold at a higher price. Yet, what is interesting in the case of Ralph Lauren is that their staple and most iconic product is their Polo t-shirts. Unlike a leather handbag or silk dress, the quality aspect of a cotton t-shirt is difficult to defend. As such, adopting a fast fashion strategy would seem to dilute the brand equity, particularly if it implies creating products at a lower priced entry point.

Additionally, the fashion strategy in the luxury space among the US retailers seems to be somewhat crowded with Michael Kors and Coach filling this gap. Given this, I think Ralph Lauren should double down on the “brand” aspect and continue to invest in its brand equity. This will allow it to create a differentiated product from other retailers selling via Amazon as consumers look to buy the brand, not the product itself.

On November 29, 2017, Isabel Khoo commented on Trouble Brewing – Beer Imports from South of the Border :

Great write up! Thank you for sharing!

What strikes me, reading this case, is that the manufacturing process is primed for innovation and automation. Political risk exists both in the US and Mexico. In both scenarios, the risk is that labor cost increase – either through higher domestic wages or unionization. As such, an obvious strategy is to decrease the companies reliance on labor is innovation and automation. Both reshoring and using domestic labor or R&D require huge capital investments. The key question is location – where should these facilities be set up? Given the threat of higher tariffs, political instability in Mexico and indications of lower corporate tax rate in the US, reshoring with investment in R&D would be my recommended strategy.

Thank you for sharing this write up.

Your question about the role of tariffs is a good one and leads me to ask the question, “what will replace this revenue stream”? A potential answer is higher corporate tax revenue generated through increase domestic production and broader consumer taxes arising through greater domestic economic activity. However, given the administration’s agenda for tax reform intends to lower the corporate tax rate, the expected uptick in tax revenue associated with reshoring may be mitigated. Moreover, the investment in educating a fairly docile domestic manufacturing sector on advance manufacturing techniques is fairly significant. How does government partner with corporate to ensure that reshoring is a feasible strategy that allows US corporations to remain competitive in the global economy?

This dovetails into the observation that reshoring must be assess over the short and long term, particularly given the high capital investment associated. Given Bombardier is a aerospace manufacturer and falls within the broader investment category of defense, a sector that has performed particularly well under the Trump administration, I would suggest the organization look to develop deep relationships with Washington. Either bidding for government contracts or lobbying for grants and funding to further innovation, would be the best strategy to succeed both in the short and long term as federal funding on defense spending has traditionally been hard to cut.