The podcast of Working Capital Review
Dr. Josh Lerner — Future of Diversity and Inclusion in Private Equity
A straightforward question: as we consider the future of diversity and inclusion in private equity, can the industry meet the challenge?
To seek answers, the Private Capital Project at the Harvard Business School and the Private Capital Research Institute recently hosted a webinar with a group of limited and general partners. What did they find?
I spoke with one of the conference leaders, Dr. Josh Lerner, the Schiff Professor of Investment Banking at Harvard Business School. He co-directs the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Program and serves as co- editor of their publication, Innovation Policy and the Economy. He founded and runs the Private Capital Research Institute, a nonprofit devoted to encouraging access to data and research, and has been a frequent leader of and participant in the World Economic Forum projects and events. He has been named one of the 100 most influential people in private equity over the past decade and one of the ten most influential academics in the institutional investing world.
Joe Coughlin: The Science & Art of Managing Business Risk Today
Businesses, of course, face risk every day, whether from supply chain disruption, calamity, or as we’ve seen from a series of hurricanes of the last years, Mother Nature. But most of these risks have a foreseeable ending – after all, at some point the hurricane passes.
But among the many business risks during this Covid age are the unknown risks – how long will the pandemic endure? Which geographies will be hit hardest? What might recovery look like?
And while the insurance business can account for many of the regular risks, Covid brings a new, challenging dimension.
So how are the insurance companies thinking about Covid-19? Perhaps more significantly, how can businesses measure, plan, and account for the risks they face? How should they think about the problem?
George Nguyen: What Does Gen Z Want from Brands?
It’s the age old question nearly every business brand would like to know: What do young people care about?
Do they apply their beliefs and goals to their commercial choices? Do brands matter to them? Put differently, from a brand’s perspective, do youth care about who you are — or what you do and how you do it? What are the forces influencing their brand choices?
And when leading global and domestic brands want to know the answer to these questions, George Nguyen is one person they frequently call.
Nguyen is Managing Director of Untapped, a youth trends and insights agency that is changing the way brands approach market research. Untapped is borne of the simple belief that the only subject matter experts are the subjects themselves – and they tap into their network of more than 5,000 young urban influencers and what they call “gatekeepers” to learn.
They do this by partnering with STOKED, a non-profit youth development program in NY, CHI, and LA. Untapped gets the insights; the youth gatekeepers gain opportunities to learn: presentation skills, professional communications, office skills, statistics and analytics, and design and development, including photoshop, coding, and more.
Among their clients have been McDonalds, Nike, Jordan Brands, Gatorade, HBO and others.
Vindi Banga: Business Outlook in a Changing World
Once again this year, thousands of the world’s leading economic and business players met in the little Swiss ski town of Davos. And once again, the key topics and discussions had little to do with winter sports.
The reasons are obvious. There’s a lot going on in the world today and plenty of questions:
As global political economies continue to evolve at an increased pace, how much will leaders factor geopolitics into evaluating potential transactions?
How do global population and health trends affect the ways companies and investors think about investing in and managing businesses?
Can innovation, entrepreneurialism and investment meet the challenges of climate change?
And what about technology? As jobs increasingly get disintermediated by Artificial Intelligence, how should businesses, governments and individuals balance the opportunities that tech brings with its equally challenging implications?
To find out, we spoke with Clayton, Dubilier & Rice London-based Operating Partner Vindi Banga. Some background on Vindi’s global business and policy efforts: Banga spent 33 years at Unilever, where he served as executive board member and president of Global Foods, Home & Personal Care. He led the creation of a 'One Unilever' agenda for the Foods, Home & Personal Care organization, responsible for innovation and marketing mix development across 170 countries for all 270 Unilever brands. Vindi also was responsible for Unilever's sustainability agenda, an issue – as you’ll hear – he has learned and thought about since his childhood in India. Vindi served on the Prime Minister of India's Council of Trade & Industry from 2004 to 2014, and in 2010 the India’s President awarded him the Padma Bhushan, one of the country’s highest civilian awards.
Anindya Ghose: China, US, & Future of AI
As the world becomes a messier place, and as the U.S. Great Power Competition with China continues to ramp up, this battle will be fought on many fronts – few if any on an actual battlefield.Instead, these superpowers’ fight for supremacy focuses on different dimensions of power and influence – in particular, areas like business and technology, including the next generation of Artificial Intelligence applications.So who’s winning? Where does China stand – and what should other countries and companies understand to compete and win?To find out, I welcomed back a previous and incredibly interesting guest: Anindya Ghose, the Heinz Riehl Chair Professor of Business at New York University's Leonard N. Stern School of Business. Anindya is also the author of the important and engaging book, Tap: Unlocking the Mobile Economy, which has now been translated into five languages and was recently named one of the top 100 marketing books of all time. Ghose also was named to the prestigious 2019 Highly Cited Researchers list from the Web of Science Group, which recognizes the world's most influential researchers of the past decade, demonstrated by the production of multiple highly-cited papers that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and year in Web of Science.Anindya’s bottom line: While the U.S. may lead in AI research, China leads in AI implementation – they simply are doing more on commercialization and making AI an actionable part of everyday life.What’s driving this advantage? I wondered, of course, if the difference comes down to the government thumb on the scale – that China’s support for targeted industries simply gives their companies an unfair advantage. But the response I got, as you’ll hear, was: Not so fast. From Ghose’s research, the difference is more cultural in terms of consumer uptake.As he told me: “Their tech sector is clearly innovating faster, working harder, and is about 2-3 years ahead of their counterparts in the U.S. and about 5-8 years ahead from the ones in Western Europe and Southeast Asia. There is much to learn from them.”One additional note: We also explored new research Ghose has just published on The Effect of Voice AI on Consumer Purchase and Search Behavior. Given the growth of voice in tech, I promise you’ll want to hear what Anindya and his colleagues found.
Alexandre Mars, How Epic Foundation Innovates Philanthropy
As with any startup opportunity, when the serial and successful tech entrepreneur Alexander Mars decided in 2013 to tackle philanthropy, he had to identify the market gap. Turns out, he already knew it: The disconnect, as he describes, between how much we want to give and how much we actually give.The challenge, of course: How to bridge the gap. Mars’ answer: Just like a business.He gathered specialists in international development, social impact, open innovation, design thinking and technology to develop an industry-leading due diligence process to build and manage a portfolio of high impact social organizations.Beyond the intense due diligence, Epic also leverages startup and business thinking into its fundraising and donor relations, from integrating into corporations’ payroll systems to enable voluntary and automated employee giving to using virtual reality technology to bring the on-site philanthropy experiences to life.The result is Epic, a global non-profit investing in nearly 30 organizations in more than 10 countries, including groups that provide free legal and social support advocacy to abused and neglected children in New York, intervene in Mumbai’s red light areas to end intergenerational trafficking, run children’s hospice in the UK, and others.More about Epic’s CEO and Founder Alexandre Mars, who over the past 20 years has launched and sold multiple companies in the internet, mobile marketing and social media industries, as well as founding blisce/, a venture firm focused on helping entrepreneurs build mission-driven global consumer brands and technology companies.In what appears to be his spare time, the French native was named among Town & Country’s Top 50 philanthropists, and among “the 50 most influential French people” by Vanity Fair. In 2019, he was named a knight of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest civilian award order.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Joe Coughlin is an excellent resource from the insurance sector. He is articulate and smart. He understands how Covid has affected businesses.
Chris Riback is a very good interviewer and has attracted a stable of interesting guests.