Jean Grey

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On November 20, 2016, Jean Grey commented on MOOCs: A Tsunami that never came? :

I see great potential in MOOC’s, and while I agree on their need to solve the “credential gap” I don’t see that as their main issue. I trust — as in many cases the top prestigious universities are the same providing MOOCs (i.e. Harvard through HBX Core) — that institutions could (and eventually will) sort out a validation mechanism that will prove to be valuable to the market (employers). What I am more hesitant (concerned?) about is how these online communities will evolve to contribute to more intrinsic value propositions of the learning experience, such as networking and community building, while preserving the institutions’s brand prestige and value and its alumni network sense of belonging and commitment to those institutions.

I would challenge to run so quickly to the conclusion that Airbnb’s value proposition of “the ability to live like a local” is what is driving substitution. Segmentation is important, and building on @alexK comment, I think that is particularly interesting to deep-dive on the needs of business vs. leisure travelers. On one hand, business travelers usually tend to value location, connectivity, loyalty memberships benefits, and convenient all inclusive amenities (continental breakfasts, ironing services, stocked minibars, etc.). On the other hand, leisure travelers have greater attraction to packages discounts, on-site extra facilities (gym, pool, spa, bar, etc.), and probably good recommendations on what to do (even online geo-location advice) [1].

So, while it is true that Airbnb disrupting model poses a threat to hotels –In fact, Morgan Stanley’s survey data points to 19 percent of leisure and 18 percent of business travelers having used Airbnb at least once, and that those numbers will grow to 25 percent and 23 percent, respectively, over the next 12 months [2]– I will be key to better understand the underlying motives that drive substitution (probably by segment), and from that build insights on how the ongoing Digital Transformation in the hospitality industry can help tackle those threats, and differenciate Starwoods (Marrotts?) value proposition in the future.


There is more challenges to Hilton than the implementation of “staffless” solutions, specially in an industry context that is in the short-term facing M&As consolidations (Marriott + Starwood), but also already losing customers to alternative models (Ex. Airbnb) that can be a potential threat in the long run.
How to deal with short-term challenges? I believe Hilton will need to keep pace on the rapid innovative digital transformation facing the hospitality industry, as it can’t afford to lose the race with its direct competitors. I believe a good combination of listening to what customers want in order to prioritize digitazion initiatives plus leveraging Hilton’s HHonors membership program to retain (and potentially acquire) customers will be key.
On the other side, Morgan Stanley’s survey data points to 19 percent of leisure and 18 percent of business travelers having used Airbnb at least once, and that those numbers will grow to 25 percent and 23 percent, respectively, over the next 12 months [1]. Though these are incipient results I believe there is real value in understanding asap what of Airbnb’s value proposition is driving substitution.


On November 20, 2016, Jean Grey commented on HBX – Disrupting the Business Education Delivery Model :

If I had to compare the HBX experience to a regular HBS RC class, I would be amazed by the similarities in tackling the case method as a learning tool. Still, there is much more that HBS has to offer in terms of team and relationship building through collaboration that what HBX has not provided until now [1]. Study groups, after class discussions and team activities are just a few examples of the hollistic learning experience you get from HBS and it is intriguing, to see how these components will develop in an online and remote setting: will this just be a next stage of education Digital Transformation?


On November 20, 2016, Jean Grey commented on Are schools going to disappear in the future? :

It is very interesting to learn about EdX and its huge potential on transforming education. One of the controversial discussions regarding the program performance has to do with completion rates: the average completion rate of a Harvard course offered on EdX is roughly 6% [1]. While some argue that completion rates are not the right KPI for Open Online Learning — as such rates usually fail to consider learner’s intentions of actually earning a certificate — it is unclear to me how these programs will manage to engage students and provide a personalized learning experience that fits their needs. In the end, I think this is a prominent challenge, as it is hard to believe that in the (not so) long run completion rates won’t matter.


On November 6, 2016, Jean Grey commented on The $10,000,000,000,000 Oil Company You’ve Never Heard Of :

Focusing on technologies that could reduce CO-2 seems like a very intresting approach — though sometimes far away of the core of O&G companies such as Aramco. I would challenge if the “urgency” to provide these kind of solutions is such, and whether it makes strategic sense for Aramco to try to achieve that objective. It is estimated that by 2040 renewable energies will occupy nearly 15% of the world’s energy matrix. However energy from fossil fuels will continue to occupy a high percentage of more than 80% [1]. That “oil demand decline” seems to be quite long term…

Source: [1]

There is a whole world of opportunities around palm-oil sustainability: Palm oil is in many places a resource of production for small families, and as such, there is a lot of space to share best practices and introduce mechanization to increase productivity. It would be interesting for companies like Unilever to engage in this aspect with its supply chain, either directly or through cooperatives, that in many places, oversee the production of small farmers. The increase of productivity could also prove beneficial to deter deforestation practices, specially in places like South East Asia where the extension of land dedicated to Palm oil has surpassed the limit of sustainability. Still, the timing that both regulation organisms and companies are taking to effectively comply with sustainable sourcing of Palm Oil (certified) can do nothing but pose doubts on whether any additional effort of increasing palm oil productivity could be achieved in the short term.

On November 6, 2016, Jean Grey commented on Nike: Leading Innovation and Sustainability :

Beyond proving that sustainability and performance could be complementary, Nike faces a great challenge of avoiding a negative consumer reaction on quality given the use of these new technologies. If so, it will be interesting to understand the company’s reactions towards the trade-offs between growth and sustainable innovation.

On November 6, 2016, Jean Grey commented on Can H&M Make Sustainability Stylish? :

H&M’s recycling program seems counter-intuitive to its “fast-fashion” model, where the company itself is pushing users to continuously buy new clothes at cheap prices. The company has no incentive of promoting durability and deters healthy behaviors as “repairing” clothes if thorn (it is cheaper to buy a new piece!). Moreover, people who participate in the program have incentives to buy more (new) clothes. On the surface, this feels as a deceiving initiative that hides behind a “environmentally friendly” facade, but actually, is only there to promote sales. It would be great to understand how the “Recycling” initiative closes the loop with other practices that could be truly beneficial for the environment.

On November 6, 2016, Jean Grey commented on Fast Fashion’s Fast Impact on the Environment :

The “Green Index” initiative is a very interesting approach on how to create awareness and deter consumption of environmental “un-freindly” products. While some detail has been provided on how H&M’s strategy promotes this behavior along the supply chain (ex. using environmentally green transport companies) it looks that there is room to expand these efforts to earlier stages. In particular, it would be very interesting to understand how they manage procurement of raw materials, and for example, if there are initiatives of sourcing from eco-friendly suppliers set in place.