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On November 20, 2016, Mary commented on Is The New York Times on its way to becoming old news? :

Thanks for a great post! While I definitely agree with you that the NYT will need to become a more compelling news provider for the next generation of readers, particularly in the digital space, I’m not so sure that the firm should begin experimenting with non-neutral standpoints. Although companies like BuzzFeed are gaining traction with the younger generations, the mission of the two companies are completely different. For BuzzFeed, the goal of the company is to get readers to share articles, videos and links, while the mission of the NYT is to “provide the best journalism in the world and give people accurate, timely information” ( Thus, the NYT should instead look into ways to increase interactions with its readers, in order to develop that relationship with each person. I find the shift towards virtual reality to be really interesting, and perhaps the NYT could couple this investment with reaching out to younger readers. If the NYT could provide a new, interactive channel for elementary/middle school children (such as how TIME has TIME for Kids), and are able to pique their interest at a young age (using virtual reality), the firm could better ensure a solid customer base as the younger generations get older and switch over to the NYT.

On November 20, 2016, Mary commented on Dare to dream: A world without lancets :

Thanks for this post! One of the key takeaways I got from your article is the importance of balancing several factors when evaluating glucose monitoring devices. With Dexcom, the firm seems to do a great job of addressing the issue of pain and inconvenience around traditional measurement devices, but unfortunately sees another side-effect of being more invasive to the patient. As this industry continues to research new methods of measurement/monitoring, it will be important for companies to understand what factors consumers prioritize most.

For example, there currently seems to also be several non-invasive, wireless devices that have just entered the market, including a device called GlucoWise. This device’s competitive advantage is its non-invasiveness, where the product is “positioned to gently squeeze the skin between the thumb and forefinger, or the earlobe to measure blood glucose levels” ( However, a challenge that this company faces is the degree of accuracy that this device provides, given its surface-only measurement method. Both GlucoWise and Dexcom provide an interesting view into the trade-offs between different factors of using a glucose monitoring device. What will be interesting to see is whether a company can address all three of these factors simultaneously (pain/inconvenience, invasiveness, accuracy) when designing the next breakthrough device.

On November 20, 2016, Mary commented on Are we approaching the end of management consulting? :

This is a really interesting article – I had thought of Hourly Nerd as more of a “transactional” type of consulting versus “relationship” based, as I tend to think of the traditional management consulting industry. I definitely think there is value that Hourly Nerd provides to clients who are looking for a fast solution to a focused problem, but one concern I have is around the long-term sustainability of the solution. Given that in Hourly Nerd, consultants can choose to work on a client’s problem without truly needing to build a long-term relationship with that client, I wonder if the solutions that are provided to the client through Hourly Nerd are sustainable. When I think of a traditional consulting setting, the consulting firm aims to build a long-term relationship with its clients, so it can receive future work from the clients. In this case, the consulting firm would generally provide solutions that are not only valuable for the short-term, but also sustainable in the long run. Depending on what type of clients Hourly Nerd is looking to attract in the future, the firm will need to consider whether its competitive advantage will be in providing short-term but fast and viable solutions (as it currently is doing), or in providing sustainable, long-term solutions to retain its client base.

On November 20, 2016, Mary commented on Talking Trash :

This is such an interesting concept of providing independent waste haulers with the opportunity to get into the waste value chain. To help keep Rubicon sustainable as its national competitors (Waste Management and Republic Services) react and look to provide additional advantages to attract more customers, it may be helpful for Rubicon to consider establishing an entire digital ecosystem to maintain its digital advantage. Given its strength in data collection and analytics, Rubicon could consider 1) leveraging the digital space to provide new “add-ons” to help businesses save money (such as your mention of what Enevo is doing) and 2) utilizing its data analytics to provide its customers with more value-added information. For example, Rubicon recently partnered up with a data company to help customers track and calculate GHG emissions from their waste, helping them to better understand how to further save on emissions ( The company’s strength in its information and analytics could serve as a strong competitive advantage against the national giants as the waste management landscape becomes more competitive.

On November 20, 2016, Mary commented on FedEx – the next big Challenge :

Thanks for this post – very interesting! As several of the comments above have mentioned, my main area of concern for Fedex would be around its long term sustainability, particularly as highly-integrated competitors like Amazon begin implementing sensor-based logistical technologies using drones or driverless cars. Given that Amazon is currently a large client of Fedex (Fedex and UPS together deliver a large majority of Amazon’s packages), I worry that Fedex will be losing much of its business and competitive advantage as Amazon continues to experiment with new ways of delivering its own packages. Amazon has great incentive to fully integrate shipping into the rest of its supply chain, as it allows the firm to have more control over a consumer’s overall shopping experience, as well as helps to reduce shipping expenses for the long term ( Aside from looking into more disruptive, technological advances beyond SenseAware, I wonder if Fedex should look into establishing some type of partnership with Amazon in the short/medium term.

On November 5, 2016, Mary commented on Global Warming… Now Effecting Mars :

This is a really interesting illustration of how climate change affects agriculture (cacao production) and in turn, incentivizes corporations (like confectionery companies) to focus its efforts on increasing renewables usage and helping to support local farmers. While I’m glad to hear that Mars, and several other food companies, have committed to reducing reliance on fossil fuels, an area that concerns me is the negative impacts of climate change on regional agriculture and farming, such as Cote D’Ivoire’s ability to produce cacao in the future. There is a related article in Scientific American that discusses climate change’s impact on cacao production (, and what I found particularly interesting in the article is that, while climate change negatively impacts cacao production in certain areas like Cote D’Ivoire, other regions, such as Central American countries (ex: El Salvador), may actually benefit from the changing climate in terms of cacao cultivation. This makes me wonder if 1) Mars (and other confectionery companies) will be able to continue chocolate/candy production through different agricultural sourcing, but at the same time 2) continue to support local farmers in Cote D’Ivoire by helping them identify other crops (that Mars may need to use) to pivot towards as climate change continues to impact the agricultural landscape.

I agree that a significant challenge the company will need to overcome in order to focus its future strategy on renewables is ensuring an alignment with NRG’s investors. After reading your post, I found a Bloomberg article that further discusses the company’s pivot away from renewables after CEO Crane was fired ( According to the article, NRG’s investors were unhappy with the unprofitable performance of the home solar business, thus pushing for a re-focus on conventional generation. This leads me to wonder, as you had mentioned, whether a non-green investor base will serve as a roadblock for the company to build more renewables, even if these projects do end up achieving high returns for them. I think the only viable way that NRG can successfully take on new renewable opportunities both in the US and international markets, would be to re-evaluate and focus on attracting a more green investor base.

On November 5, 2016, Mary commented on Hanes: Clean Shirts for a Cleaner World :

I think it’s particularly impressive that Hanes was able to meet its rather lofty environmental goals in just five years, by shifting from a fragmented, non-unified strategy to implementing a company-wide initiative. I completely agree with your point that Hanes’ vertical integration contributed significantly to the company’s ability to reach its energy management goals in such a short time frame, and it makes me wonder how achievable it is for a global apparel company to meet new environmental goals without a strong, vertically integrated supply chain. I learned that, in addition to Hanes, Fruit of the Loom also has been extremely involved in environmental initiatives and has received similar awards on energy management. In particular, Fruit of the Loom’s website discusses its aggressive energy initiatives and EPA awards, crediting its company strategy and vertical integration as key factors in achieving its targets ( Your post and this article make me wonder just how important and necessary vertical integration is to achieving impactful, sustainable environmental practices.

Thanks for this post, I had never really thought about the impacts of climate change on the recreational/ski industry, since the effects are more gradual and long-term. I agree with you that in order to stay ahead of the curve, Vail will need continue being proactive at diversifying its risks with cross-seasonal offerings. I found it interesting that the company decided to acquire Whistler Blackcomb, focusing further on improving its attractions in the winter months. Although Vail is still primarily focused on improving its competitive advantage of winter recreation (skiing), I wonder if the company should begin thinking about serious partnerships/acquisitions in recreational activities in the other three seasons. You mentioned that Vail has begun diversifying its offerings beyond the winter months (hiking, adventure centers) – I wonder if it would be stronger for them to look into partnering with a key player in these segments, such as Six Flags, rather than competing with them, in order to ensure sustainable future revenue streams.

I definitely agree with your view that Exxon, and O&G companies in general, need to begin shifting their future strategy toward renewables, for both environmental and financial diversification reasons. One big challenge I see these companies needing to overcome though, is deciding how best to diversify. Is Exxon better off acquiring other renewable companies, or should it focus primarily on building in-house capability? If it focuses on acquisition, the challenges I see are whether renewable companies will want to be acquired by an O&G firm, and if they are, will customers’ view of the renewable company change now that its brand image is associated with oil and gas? On the other hand, if Exxon chooses to build up an in-house renewable division, will it have enough existing capabilities/experience to compete with other renewable companies? And finally, how will Exxon manage any potential culture clashes between an in-house renewable division and its current traditional segments? I believe this shift towards renewables is vital for O&G companies, but as they consider their new strategy, it will be just as important to select the right design choices and understand how to overcome the hurdles above.