Ketty Lie

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On December 1, 2017, Ketty Lie commented on Performance with Purpose: PepsiCo’s Sustainability Mission :

Hey Landen, really liked how you ended the article and raise thought-provoking questions that I agree PepsiCo’s management should really consider. In particular, I really liked this phrase: “Ultimately, climate change initiatives should be viewed as a marathon, not a sprint.” While it is encouraging to know of more big corporations entering into conversations and changes around sustainable business, it will only prove detrimental if they do not have a long-term plan in creating the changes and disruption they are implementing. I agree that changing too much too quickly is dangerous, and adding to that – abrupt changes that can only produce short-term gain will be demotivating at best for the employee and truly damaging to the company and environment in general.

As such, I think to your question regarding consumer-facing initiative, ideally it would be great to have companies like PepsiCo partnering with government or social organizations to really discuss how to create long-lasting supply chain changes that will be more environmentally friendly while helping businesses remain profitable at the same time. I strongly believe they should think about launching consumer-facing initiative (perhaps something like Dove’s Real Beauty campaign but towards climate change) especially in today’s political climate, PepsiCo in many ways almost need to step up and play a significant role in shaping people’s mindset and help them change behaviors positively. Given how rapidly our world is changing, I’d be really curious to know how management of big companies like PepsiCo plan out their strategies for the future indeed.

On December 1, 2017, Ketty Lie commented on Monsanto Predicting Weather: Crazy or Crazily Smart? :

I really liked how you ended the article by posing very thoughtful questions on the rise of technology, big data and how it seems to fuel further big business to continue their almost monopoly of the sector. I propose this is where the public / non-profit sector can come in and pressure companies like Monsanto to share their data. One scenario could be for advocacy organizations to raise public awareness of the power they are holding through big data. With the rise of social media, hopefully this can amass enough people power to alert political leaders who will inevitably respond especially since agriculture is such an important and political business. In short, companies like Monsanto certainly need more accountability given its size, which can be further fueled through big data.

From Monsanto’s perspective, I would also urge that on top of weather predictors whether they are investing into technology that provides more sustainable farming. If they are, that would be ideal, given that the rise of climate change is in partly due to big agribusiness and how they have disrupted natural cycles as well as many other factors of course. Hence, this use of new technology would be best if they can also see how to fundamentally change their farming ways to become more sustainability and environmentally friendly.

On December 1, 2017, Ketty Lie commented on Mexico Pushes for a Successful Trilateral NAFTA :

Certainly an interesting topic to discuss especially given the increasingly isolationist environment that we see globally. I would add that albeit NAFTA is fundamentally an economic agreement and it would make sense to focus on the economics and finances of the deal, with the current political climate in the US – other signatories on the deal need to really flex their negotiation muscles and craft a story that is compelling for the current administration. Unfortunately, in my view, the biggest reason why US is wanting to pull out of NAFTA is not for sound economic reasons but rather primarily for political gains. The problem of immigration is intricately ingrained into the debate and decision surrounding this matter. As such, being able to really highlight (as you’ve done here) the real, tangible economic disadvantages to US businesses and employment and presenting that perhaps not directly to the US government but to US companies (who will incur major and direct loss). From there, if positioned well, one would hope that the US companies will be the major mouthpiece and deliver the message to the political leaders. Hopefully with enough leverage and pressure, they will rethink the decision especially since losses will be incurred by all parties – US very much included.

Great choice of topic, Sean! Not surprising, coming from you who’s a mining buff though. It’s always great to have someone take a deeper interest in Indonesia and you’ve definitely hit a very hot topic here. While I didn’t get the opportunity to personally visit Freeport’s mines, I’ve visited the “Freeport Village” that it had essentially built from scratch to house its employees and workers. As it is a very complex issues, I have lots of thoughts but will keep it relatively succinct here.

First, to your ending question, my personal opinion from a business perspective is that they’re better off waiting and delaying the negotation until 2019 given how political the mining business is Indonesia. As context Freeport’s mine is located in Mimika, Papua where it is one of Indonesia’s most remote and underdeveloped region. Having seen it personally, one can see that Freeport plays a very integral part in both the high-level economics of the city as well as the day-to-day life of the community given that it provides the largest employment in the region. In fact, Mimika’s airport was created by Freeport and rented to the government to be used as a public airport. This leads to my second point, which is addressing the political and social issues surrounding mining and especially Freeport given its size.

While mining is, as mentioned, a big economic driver for the country and especially for Papua it is also rife with ill treatment of its workers and high safety hazards – very similar to our Cynthia Carroll’s LEAD case essentially. Moreover, many Indonesians (and Papuans especially) don’t necessarily have a great impression of Freeport because it’s been seen as extracting much of the nation’s valuable resources while giving very little back. Many of the residents (including Freeport miners) still live in dire poverty with very little access to education, healthcare and basic infrastructure. Personally, it was mind-blowing how beautiful the “Freeport Village” was where it had its own roads built by the company, hospital and school within the compound but once you leave it you’re in an entirely different world. At the same time, given how big of an economic driver they are it’s also hard to say that they should just pack up and leave.

This is further complicated with how complicit the government often is in denying basic human rights and needs to their own citizens. There’s been numerous scandals of government officials receiving bribes or insinuating the need for bribery to Freeport management. The most recent one actually involved the Speaker of Parliament and caused quite an uproar – certainly an embarassing debacle for the nation. While we have no idea who will be elected in 2019 and what kind of administration it will be – at least, based on the past, change is the only constant Freeport can expect and if they can afford to wait and negotiate with the right people who can carry the deal forward it will be a wiser move for the company.

All this being said, I am a big proponent of seeing big companies like Freeport who have the resources to help develop the communities to partner with local government and help provide a decent living standard for the communities it works in – starting from its workers and families.

On November 29, 2017, Ketty Lie commented on The Digitization of Beauty at L’Oréal :

Fascinating article! I think your article highlights the increasing trend of customer customization among consumer goods that’s rapidly taking over our society. While I agree that the digitization of beauty products makes great sense and provides a value-add to customers, I wonder how far can this go? Given how uniquely different human skins are from each other, how much tailoring can a company make?

This was essentially the same question I posed at the end of my article where Adidas was leveraging technological advancement to customize shoes to their customers and even launching specific shoe – lines for specific cities. While I personally enjoy customization, from a company’s viewpoint, this is a huge disruption from their manufacturing process as factories can no longer batch production (or at least batches are a lot smaller and much more infrequent). It would be interesting then to see whether the benefit of digitization and supposed increase sales in tailor-made beauty products does outweigh the overall loss of streamlining your manufacturing process by producing products in masses. This would be a key question big firms like L’Oreal as well as Adidas will need to grapple with.

On November 29, 2017, Ketty Lie commented on Life-Saving Drones: Zipline in East Africa :

Great post! While I won’t consider myself a tech-geek, I’ve been both impressed and also disturbed with the rise of technology. I fully agree with the concerns that you’ve laid out that while Zipline has done a great job in delivering much needed medical supplies to remote areas of Rwanda (and expanding into other Eastern African countries with equally high need of such supplies), this still seems to me to be a band-aid solution to a bigger healthcare delivery problems. While I don’t think this is merely a PR stunt to cover a darker side of the country, I do think it can be a distraction (or a cover-up, if I’m more cynical) of investing in tackling root causes of healthcare challenges. I think what could be an interesting combination is seeing more of telemedicine (e.g. the Dr. Shetty’s case) in conjunction with medical drone delivery. For now, at least, I remain optimistic that Zipline is doing more good than harm – at least, it’s encouraging to see drones and technological advances being implemented to address critical issues and save lives, instead of simply delivering the latest gadget we ordered from Amazon.