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Thanks for sharing, this was a pleasure to read! Agreed with a couple comments above in that I would recommend Cadbury to start scaling up operations in the EU in preparation for a potential hard Brexit to hedge their bets, as well as in the sentiment that a move from the UK to EU would be more sensationalized in the media versus have a real impact on volumes.

What I would be more concerned about is what your post made me think of for British chocolate in general, as compared to that coming from other countries. I’ve found that American chocolate for example is often spoken of with a tinge of disgust from our British friends, largely due to the overly sugary taste, saying “this isn’t chocolate,” “you don’t use cocoa”, while our Belgian friends (hi Francois) would scoff at the both of us for not being purists and including anything other than pure chocolate. Up until now, Britain has been under EU regulation for the percentage of vegetable fats or milk content they have been allowed to include [1], but perhaps now that the UK will no longer be hampered by this regulation, the actual taste of the chocolate may change [2]. I wonder if it would give Cadbury leeway to experiment in different percentages that might be lower cost in the face of declining revenues from exchange rates, import, and volumes, which could lead to significant negative backlash if the Brits taste a change in their beloved Freddo.

[1] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/678141.stm
[2] http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-36457903

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

Agreed with Ice Cream on thoughts of the risk to the UK being not as severe as some might think, but from a different lens. The UK has all the incentives to ensure that banks do stay in London (as Rasha noted), especially given that as Oliver Wyman estimated, the UK stands to lose early 75,000 jobs in the instance of a hard Brexit [1]. Given the EU’s hard line on the free flow of capital, I would imagine that it would be the UK that backs down on regulation to allow banks to conduct basically as they have in London, except with being base in the EU. With the constantly changing state of the regulatory environment, I would not be surprised to see regulations changed on how they treat branches of EU-based entities, which is what rsi you are suggesting Barclays pursue. I would recommend that Barclays take the initiative in these regulatory conversations and push them with the government. In fact, these “branch-back” initiatives where banks are moving their headquarters to a branch in the EU and turning their UK office into a branch is where I would assume there to be the most success in a smooth transition.

[1] https://www.ft.com/content/1b99624a-c545-11e7-b2bb-322b2cb39656

I really enjoyed reading this, especially given the class we just recently had regarding Marriott and their usage of digital innovation to compete with AirBnB – hope you got to speak with Ron Harrison before he left! Completely agree that there’s a delicate balancing act between being data driven to provide a more comprehensive customer experience and by being intrusive. As Ron mentioned in class, he does mention that he would not use the data of anyone who might not want to disclose that, so perhaps that’s one way to get around the problem?

That being said, I am concerned about the future of this digitization and automation. In Japan’s Hen-na Hotel, they’ve taken digitization to a new level and eliminated some of the traditional human facing activities like check in – robots will check guests in, and give them the appropriate key card based on facial recognition. Given that I believe the trend is towards digitization, I worry about the amount of information hotels will possess of each individual guest, and the possibility of hacking into the system.

Source: http://www.h-n-h.jp/en/concept/

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

You bring up a really interesting topic, and one that I agree, Harvard has done a particularly good job as compared to peer institutions. I wonder if that’s a factor of those “golden handcuffs” so to speak – since oftentimes it is the non-traditional institutions who provide electronic learning platforms, there are inherent biases against students participating. I wonder if the top universities will be willing or able to buck the public perception of anything online deemed as less legitimate, especially the likely negative reaction of their alum with deep pockets.

Similarly with Ice Cream above, I agree that elite traditional institutions will always have a marketplace, and that classroom learning won’t be going away anytime soon. What I wonder is though, in the longer term when online education does become more acceptable, will that change the ways that universities operate to fundraise or gain revenue? Not knowing how universities make most of their money to function, I wonder if the digitization of education will lead to individuals just purchasing degrees because they can. And in that case, will that lead to universities changing the way they operate, forcing some of the smaller schools to focus on digitizing and marketing to international students?

On December 1, 2017, KS commented on Danone: Operating within the Tragedy of the Commons :

It’s so interesting to think about Danone’s dilemma as a dairy company in the context of 1) corporate responsibility to be sustainable, but also 2) needing to be sustainable in order to maintain their profits, and finally 3) being a major contributor to climate change as a dairy company emitting greenhouse gases (by way of cows and their manure). I think you characterized the problem very well, and your solution of lobbying for governmental regulation seems to be the most effective to get every player on the same page, and avoid taking on the sustainability burden all for themselves.

Another point that I find salient is the impact of climate change on safety and health of the dairy product. A research report done on the dairy industry in Ireland identified a number of food safety risks involving contaminants and natural toxins (i.e., increase of range of mycotoxins) given that the general climate is projected to be warmer. Similarly, the cows producing the dairy products may be affected by diseases associated with climate change, and could cause new veterinary medicines to enter into their milk. That I think will be another complicating factor that Danon will need to be aware of.

Reference: http://www.safefood.eu/Publications/Research-reports/The-impact-of-climate-change-on-dairy-production.aspx

So interesting! I’ve only ever heard about indoor farming, but it appears that vertical farming takes it to a new level. You bring up a great point that to make farming sustainable in the long term in a profitable way, there needs to be a single company spearheading the process. Dole seems to be the perfect candidate with as you mentioned, their corporate sustainability policies and position as a market leader. It was particularly effective that their policies lined up perfectly with the value proposition of vertical farming, to manage water, reduce carbon, and conserve soil.

Thinking into the future, I have two major concerns that would put the process into question, or that Dole should be concerned about if they go about to implement. One would be the variable costs associated with production, as it doesn’t seem to me that vertical farming would be able to scaleable in the way normal farming is. Especially for costs related to electricity given the lack of natural sunlight and the vertical nature of the “floors”, I imagine there to be incremental units of electricity expended per floor, thus reducing the economies of scale. The second would be the lack of infrastructure for processing the food produced. It’s not only enough that the farm to be located closer to cities, but that the food post production be as well. I believe once Dole can solve these problems, they will have the power to create a disruptive type of more sustainable farming.