Institute for Business in the Global Context

Where the World of Business Meets the World

Category: Speaker Series

Why Women Should Invest More: A Q&A with Alumna Alice Finn (F88), CEO of PowerHouse Assets

Wealth management expert Alice Finn (F88) is the prime example of a Fletcher alumna. She pays it forward — Finn founded PowerHouse Assets to help women tackle finances with confidence — and sets high goals and achieves them. Finn recently released her book, Smart Women Love Money: Five Simple, Life-Changing Rules of Investing, to help women get their start in investing.

Fletcher Alum and wealth management expert Alice Finn (F’88) tpeaks to the the Fletcher community on her book, “Smart Women Love Money” (Photo Credit: Sarah Collins)

On Wednesday Nov. 1, Finn returned to The Fletcher School to take part in the Institute for Business in the Global Context (IBGC) Speaker Series and in true Fletcher style, she brought along a fellow alumna and PowerHouse Assets colleague, Ralitza Gueorguieva (F05). IBGC Director of Corporate Relations Dorothy Orszulak introduced Finn to an engaged crowd — of both genders. Finn answered every question asked thoughtfully and passionately, sharing her five top tips:

  1. Invest stocks long-term
  2. Allocate assets
  3. Implement index finds
  4. Rebalance regularly
  5. Keep fees low

In a Q&A before the event, Finn revealed her motivation for starting her company, shared her best financial tip and explained how her Fletcher experience prepared her for her career.

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Oliver Wyman CEO Scott McDonald Addresses Business’ Role in Politics

“Should businesses be involved in politics? Absolutely. We have a responsibility to make our contribution to society,” Oliver Wyman CEO Scott McDonald told Fletcher students last week during a talk hosted by The Institute for Business in the Global Context. McDonald explored business’ ever-evolving role in politics during his presentation and explained how he navigates the changing landscape as head of a leading global management consulting firm.

The debate around whether business should (or shouldn’t) be involved in politics isn’t a new one, McDonald said, but discovering the right way to balance involvement in politics without alienating your employees and consumers often poses a challenge for companies.

Oliver Wyman CEO Scott McDonald discusses the role of business in politics as part of the IBGC Speaker Series (Photo Credit: Ahmad Raza)

Political activities such as lobbying have existed for ages and have always been a natural part of the business world, McDonald explained. During the 1960s and ‘70s, businesses became more involved in politics as the civil and women’s rights movements hit the scene. The next big wave of activity popped up in the ‘90s as consumers began to make their voices heard more clearly. Over the past 10 years or so, companies have started to think strategically about consumers’ voices and have begun to actively align their goals with those of their customers.

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Dalberg’s Angela Hansen Discusses Sustainable Development, Design Thinking

As an advisor on agriculture & food security at strategic advisory firm Dalberg Advisors, Angela Hansen works at the forefront of some of the world’s most pressing issues. On September 27, Hansen shared some of her insights on global sustainable development and the practice of “design thinking” with Fletcher students at the first event in this semester’s Institute for Business in the Global Context’s speaker series. In a hands-on event that featured a few participant exercises, Hansen encouraged students to approach her talk with a “beginner’s mind” and keep their curiosity open to the subject at hand.

At Dalberg, Hansen works across the public, private and philanthropic sectors to help clients in emerging and frontier markets enhance performance, meet objectives and develop new partnerships in the field of global sustainable development. Hansen has prepared strategies for multilateral organizations, leading international NGOs and private sector companies all over the world and has lived and worked in Africa for over a decade.

In a brief Q&A, Hansen gave us a look into her typical work day, revealed her best advice for Fletcher students and explained how “design thinking” can impact global sustainable development.

1) What does your typical work day look like?

There is no typical day. Most of this week, I have been in side-events around the UN General Assembly in New York. I’ve engaged with private companies such as Barclays, Eni, Siemens, Mars and Phillip Morris. I’ve met with non-profits including Business Fights Poverty and CARE, and I’ve spoken with multilateral and bilateral development actors, as well as with a few of my favorite thought leaders such as Roger Martin and Malcom Gladwell. It’s great to be back in New York; this past month I have been in South Africa, Italy, Austria and Denmark for a mix of Dalberg and non-Dalberg commitments. Continue reading

GE Chief Digital Officer John Gordon Talks Technology Advances with Fletcher Students

“It’s a pretty exciting time for you all to be coming out of Fletcher,” John Gordon told an audience of Fletcher students. After all, the technology field is developing rapidly, and ideas once-considered “crazy” are driving major industry progress. Gordon knows a thing or two about noteworthy technology developments; he’s the Chief Digital Officer of Current, powered by General Electric  (GE) — an energy company that integrates GE’s LED, Solar, Energy Storage and Electric Vehicle businesses to deliver cost-effective, efficient energy solutions.

Understanding how technology evolves and the “implications of new technology trends” is of the utmost importance, Gordon told students. He referred to GE as a “big industrial company in transition” and said staying on top of the latest technology is one of the ways it stays current and drives progress.

John Gordon, Chief Digital Officer at GE, speaks as part of the IBGC Speaker Series (Photo Credit: Anthony Schultz)

Case in point? GE is known for building locomotives and engines, but at a certain point the company realized they needed to update the way they approach technology to better understand how their systems actually perform. “We decided that we needed a different type of technology that would allow us to service things better,” he explained. So GE sought out additional data to teach them how various machines, like airplanes, were operating, then started the process of analyzing.

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HubSpot CFO John Kinzer Discusses Company, Career at IBGC Speaker Series

How do the decisions you make over the course of your career influence your ultimate trajectory? HubSpot’s Chief Financial Officer, John Kinzer, posed this question while discussing his impressive career and current role in a presentation for The Institute for Business in the Global Context (IBGC) speaker series on March 27. Kinzer manages HubSpot’s finances and played a key role in the company’s initial public offering.

Kinzer described some of the major career decisions that paved his path to HubSpot. For instance, he said studying at Virginia Tech’s business school helped prepare him for his first major career step: entering the field of public accounting.

HubSpot CFO John Kinzer takes the audience through his career journey, HubSpot’s growth, and more as part of the IBGC Speaker Series with, “From Start-Up to Scale-Up”

After working for Arthur Anderson for several years, Kinzer took an accounting job with MCI rather than attend business school. At MCI, he gained analytical skills and learned the important connection between marketing and business.

While working at MCI, Kinzer got a call from E-centives, an online coupon company, and took a job there. “I’d been at two very big companies and wanted to do something smaller,” he explained.

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PayPal, Facebook, Apple, and More: 12 Days at Fletcher

March and April are always a busy time at Fletcher. Mid-terms give way to the semester’s final crescendo, warm spring  weather lifts everyone’s spirits, and, of course, calendars fill with scores of exciting events across campus. This year, the two weeks from March 28th through April 8th brought a seemingly non-stop flow of fascinating speakers and prestigious celebrations, from the IBGC Speaker Series to Tufts University-wide events. Many focused on technology and entrepreneurship, but others brought high-profile visitors to discuss a wealth of other issues.

Learn more about these exciting two weeks at Fletcher:

Legal Seafoods CEO Roger Berkowitz

Monday, March 28: Legal Seafoods CEO Roger Berkowitz spoke about the sustainability and the global supply chain as part of the IBGC Speaker Series. He punctuated his perspective on the fish business by noting, “”At the end of the day, if we’re not conservationists, we’re not going to be in business!” Later that same day, Dan Schulman, President & CEO of PayPal, spoke alongside Hewlett Foundation cyber-security expert Eli Sugerman in a discussion entitled, “21st Century Cybersecurity: Challenges and Opportunities.” Read more about the event here

Tuesday, March 29: Tuesday took a deeper dive into the world of financial technology, as CEME Senior Fellow Arthur Sculley hosted an intimated lunchtime round table discussion on “The Future of FinTech 2.0.”

Wednesday, March 30: The Murrow Center, Hitachi Center, and Cyber Working Group came together to welcome Andrea Glorioso, Counselor for the Digital Economy  from the Delegation of the European Union to the US, for a talk on future prospects for markets and transatlantic relations in a digital context.

Thursday, March 31: The second IBGC Speaker Series event of the week brought the Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (better known as DARPA), Dr. Arati Prabhakar to campus for a luncheon lecture to discuss “Technologies to Bend the Arc of the Future.” You can read a write-up of the event here

Monday, April 4: The following week showed no let up in great evemts around Tufts University as Jeff Rothschild, former VP at Facebook, came to campus to discuss his observations on entrepreneurship and technology in his talk titled, “From Punched Cards to Social Media.”

Wednesday, April 6: Presented by the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies, Fouad Siniora, former Prime Minister of Lebanon, gave a talk on the risks and opportunities presented by “The Emerging Middle East.”

DARPA Director Dr. Arati Prabhakar

DARPA Director Dr. Arati Prabhakar

Thursday, April, 7: Day 2 of the Tufts Entrepreneurial Showcase featured the finalists for the Tufts $100K New Ventures Competition, with two Fletcher-led teams — Blue Water Metrics and Uliza — placing in the Top 3.

Friday, April 8: The busy and exciting 12 days at Fletcher came to a close, wrapping up the week with yet another IBGC Speaker Series event. “The Future of Innovation” was the topic, as former Apple and Pepsi CEO John Sculley spoke to a packed house over lunch, full of inspiration and insight. There was plenty to dig into about the future of technology, but to him, innovation boils down to one thing: “It’s all about having insatiable curiosity.”

These events are just a small sampling of the wonderful happenings at Fletcher ever semester. Be sure to check out the Fletcher Calendar, IBGC Speaker Series, and Fletcher Features, as well as right here on this blog.

The Future of DARPA: New Technologies for New Security Challenges

by Sean Silbert (MALD 2017)
Originally published as part of “Fletcher Features”

Imagine the future: self-driving cars, bionic limbs and commercially viable spaceports. These are all technologies that DARPA, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is working to create, explained its director, Dr. Arati Prabhakar, in a packed Chase Center on March 31 as part of the IBGC Speaker Series.

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DARPA Director Dr. Arati Prabhakar at Fletcher

The talk, “Technologies to Bend the Arc of the Future,” showcased some of the new projects that DARPA is currently working on and the challenges that it faces. The world has changed from the days of Sputnik, said Prabhakar, and new technologies are needed to maintain America’s primacy in technology. The national security environment has changed, and evolving threats from terrorism and the rise of great powers is forcing the U.S. to think of fresh ways to deal with new security challenges.

“Over time, [our investments] have created such a mass of new products and companies in various industries,” said Prabhakar. “And through all of this we’ve changed how we fight, of course, but also how we live and work.”

Prabhakar outlined some of the general technologies that are being developed to address the security challenges. While DARPA is known for creating technologies such as self-driving cars, they are now working on a self-driving boat that can go unmanned for months at a time. To replace satellites that can be taken out of orbit, the agency is developing an experimental spacecraft that can launch new satellites within a day.

DARPA is also working on building the groundwork for “a third wave of artificial intelligence,” according to Prabhakar. She demonstrated the utility of machine learning – systems that can take results from huge amounts of data and adapt themselves accordingly — through examples of facial recognition software to programs that can instantly detect and translate foreign transmissions.

Prabhakar has been the director of DARPA since 2012. She began working for the agency in 1986 as a program manager, managing programs in advanced semiconductor technology and flexible manufacturing. In 1993, she was appointed by President Clinton as director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Between 1997 and her return to DARPA, she worked in Silicon Valley as a technology officer and later as a venture capitalist.

Achieving a Sustainable Fishing Industry: International Cooperation is Essential

by Sean Silbert (MALD 2017)
Orginally published as part of “Fletcher Features”

According to Roger Berkowitz, he’s not in the restaurant business. He’s in the fish business – and the fish need to be protected.

Legal Seafoods CEO Roger Berkowitz

“At the end of the day, if we’re not conservationists, we’re not going to be in business,” said Berkowitz, CEO of the national seafood restaurant chain Legal Sea Foods, at a lecture on March 28 as part of the Institute for Business in the Global Context (IBGC) Speaker Series.

Berkowitz’s comments on the need for sustainability highlighted how international cooperation in the world’s fisheries is essential to achieving this. Since fish are migratory, countries need to share their resources. In this case, sharing information creates sustainability, according to Berkowitz, who praised the novel strategies of Iceland in managing fishing techniques, including responsible harvesting of wild fish stocks and good treatment of the marine ecosystem, as well as working together with government. “It’s going to take a global effort,” he said.

Berkowitz also explained how he is taking models of sustainable practices from the fishing industry and applying them towards the restaurant industry. An example of this is using more of the whole fish when cooking. He found that it’s necessary to take practices back to their roots – and make sure that both businesses and government are in sync when discussing sustainability.

When answering questions from the audience, Berkowitz addressed many pressing issues within the global fishing industry. He noted Legal Seafood’s insistence on obtaining shrimp that were not the product of forced labor, his refusal to sell unsustainable types of fish at his restaurants, as well as the unintended consequences of technology in fishing.

According to Berkowitz, “organizations must be able to turn on a dime,” and the fishing industry must be flexible in order to survive in the modern environment.

Political Risk and the Insurance Industry: A Conversation with Bhasker Natarajan

Bhasker Natarajan, EVP, Liberty International

Bhasker Natarajan, EVP, Liberty International

The past few months have seen rising concerns about political risk and the development of emerging markets, as scandal has rocked Brazil, international sanctions have jammed business in Russia, India has struggled to move forward with reforms, and the Chinese market saw $5 trillion in value wiped out. Against that backdrop, Bhasker Natarajan recently joined Fletcher students to discuss the challenges facing the insurance industry in markets with distinctive geopolitical risks. Mr. Natarajan currently serves as Executive Vice President at Liberty International and Chief Operating Officer for Large Emerging Markets, where his portfolio includes oversight of activities in Turkey, Russia, India, and China—or, as he occasionally calls them, the “TRIC or tricky countries.”

Read the full post at the website for the Fletcher Conference on Managing Political Risk

“Global Finance: Private Equity, the Financial Crisis, and a Little History of Money” Patrick Kocsi (F96), GE Capital

“The age of high returns over the last thirty years is over,” declared Patrick Kocsi (F96) at his October 16 talk, part of the Institute for Business in the Global Context (IBGC) Speaker Series. “Today, we’re at a point in the credit and equity markets where things are starting to flash orange.”

From ancient Mesopotamia to China in early 1980s and up to the nexus of change staring us right in the face in 2015, Kocsi, Senior Managing Director and Head of GE Capital, Equity, took the audience on a journey through the history of money, equity, and the ever-shifting winds of the world economy. The self-declared “optimist” looked from the past to signals in today’s credit markets as a sign that we stand on the cusp of an inflection point in global finance.

Patrick Kocsi

Patrick Kocsi (F96), Senior Managing Director and Head of GE Capital, Equity

As he presented it, not even unrelenting optimism allows you to ignore the writing on the wall. “When debt grows faster than GDP,” Kocsi added, “it’s probably not a good thing.”

According to Kocsi, high rates of growth in China, India and other countries – buoyed by low interest rates, high debt levels, and significant and seemingly unsustainable returns on investment – are unlikely to continue in the near future. For Fletcher students, slow growth will almost certainly play a significant role in their professional and personal lives as corporations, non-profits, and governments begin to reign in spending and increase savings.

As the latest guest in IBGC’s long-running Speaker Series, Kocsi brought a refreshing air to a topic that lends itself to doom-and-gloom prognostication.

For more than 14 years, the IBGC Speaker Series has brought in global business leaders to speak to and engage with Fletcher students. Past speakers have included African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka and Caffè Nero founder and CEO Gerry Ford (F84).