186 episodes

Cold Call distills Harvard Business School's legendary case studies into podcast form. Hosted by Brian Kenny, the podcast airs every two weeks and features Harvard Business School faculty discussing cases they've written and the lessons they impart.

Cold Call HBR Presents / Brian Kenny

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

Cold Call distills Harvard Business School's legendary case studies into podcast form. Hosted by Brian Kenny, the podcast airs every two weeks and features Harvard Business School faculty discussing cases they've written and the lessons they impart.

    Larry Fink at BlackRock: Linking Purpose to Profit

    Larry Fink at BlackRock: Linking Purpose to Profit

    In 2014, Larry Fink started writing letters to the leaders of some of the largest publicly listed companies, urging them to consider the importance of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. Fink is the chairman and CEO of BlackRock, one of the largest asset management houses in the world. The firm’s success was rooted in its cost-effective, passive investment products that rely on tracking indices and funds. But Fink wanted his firm to engage with the companies in which they invest and hold them accountable for their social and environmental impacts. What role should investors play in urging business leaders to take ESG issues more seriously and enforcing compliance?

    • 30 min
    Reinventing an Iconic Independent Bookstore

    Reinventing an Iconic Independent Bookstore

    In 2020, Kwame Spearman made the career-shifting decision to leave a New York City-based consulting job to return to his hometown of Denver, Colorado, and take over an iconic independent bookstore, The Tattered Cover. Spearman saw an opportunity to reinvent the local business to build a sense of community after the pandemic. But he also had to find a way to meet the big challenges facing independent booksellers amid technological change and shifting business models.

    • 28 min
    Management Lessons from the Sinking of the SS El Faro

    Management Lessons from the Sinking of the SS El Faro

    Captain Michael Davidson, of the container ship SS El Faro, was determined to make his planned shipping trip on time—but a hurricane was approaching his intended path. To succeed, Davidson and his fellow officers had to plot a course to avoid the storm in the face of conflicting weather reports from multiple sources and differing opinions among the officers about what to do. Over the 36-hour voyage, tensions rose as the ship got closer and closer to the storm.

    When the ship ultimately sunk on October 1, 2015, it was the deadliest American shipping disaster in decades. But who was to blame for the tragedy and what can we learn from it?

    • 36 min
    A Lesson from Google: Can AI Bias be Monitored Internally?

    A Lesson from Google: Can AI Bias be Monitored Internally?

    Dr. Timnit Gebru was the co-lead of Google’s Ethical AI research team –until she raised concerns about bias in the company’s large language models and was forced out in 2020. Her departure sent shockwaves through the AI and tech community ad raised fundamental questions about how companies safeguard against bias in their own AI. Should in-house ethics research continue to be led by researchers who best understand the technology, or must ethics and bias be monitored by more objective researchers who aren’t employed by companies?

    • 25 min
    Can Bombas Reach New Customers while Maintaining Its Social Mission?

    Can Bombas Reach New Customers while Maintaining Its Social Mission?

    Bombas was started in 2013 with a dual mission: to deliver quality socks and donate much-needed footwear to people living in shelters. By 2021, it had become one of America's most visible buy-one-give-one companies, with over $250 million in annual revenue and 50 million pairs of socks donated. As Bombas continued expanding, the company struggled to determine what pace of growth would best allow it to reach new customers while maintaining its social mission.

    • 23 min
    Can the Foodservice Distribution Industry Recover from the Pandemic?

    Can the Foodservice Distribution Industry Recover from the Pandemic?

    At the height of the pandemic in 2020, US Foods struggled, as restaurant and school closures reduced demand for foodservice distribution. The situation improved after the return of indoor dining and in-person learning, but an industry-wide shortage of truck drivers and warehouse staff hampered the foodservice distributor’s post-pandemic recovery. That left CEO Pietro Satriano to determine the best strategy to attract and retain essential workers, even as he was tasked with expanding the wholesale grocery store chain (CHEF’STORE) that US Foods launched during the pandemic lockdown.

    • 17 min

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