Campaign: What business topics or issues are most challenging to you right now?

Corporate Governance Revisited

Arguably, the recent financial crisis was fundamentally the result of a collossal failure of corporate governance, particularly amongst the investment banks, asset managers, mortgage lenders, bond insurers and credit rating agencies that facilitated the proliferation of easy credit and toxic debt securities. Notwithstanding the lessons learned from recent corporate scandals involving Enron and WorldCom and the advent of Sarbanes-Oxley, the state of corporate governance today leaves much to be desired. What more can be done to force companies to further advance shareholder rights, improve financial transparency, enhance Board effectiveness, and remove the perverse incentives caused by executive compensation structures and the focus on quarterly results?

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Campaign: What do you most need to learn to be an even more effective leader?

Motivating others

Creating a climate in which people want to do their best; motivating many kinds of direct reports and team or project members; assessing each person’s hot button and use it to get the best out of him/her; pushing tasks and decisions down; empowering others; inviting input from each person and sharing ownership and visibility

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Campaign: What business topics or issues are most challenging to you right now?

The New Business Plan? Real Ideas Into Opportunities

One of the most important lessons learned in my undergraduate entrepreneurship studies at Wharton was: "Not every idea is an opportunity, but every opportunity started as a great idea." Times and business models have changed. What are some of the new ways to farm ideas and cultivate opportunities for new businesses? Is there a new way to present a business plan? How do we identify ideas that can be real opportunities reflective of today's economy and times?

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Campaign: What societal challenges could be improved by the Wharton alumni network?

Education and Poverty

What can we, as well educated executives, do to help those young people growing up in poverty to get out of the cycle of poverty? My wife and I recently spent 7 years mentoring a young African American woman in the inner city of Dallas. We are thrilled that she is the first in her family to graduate from high school but she is not prepared for college. Our mentor relationship was not enough.

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Campaign: What societal challenges could be improved by the Wharton alumni network?

Educating Women in Developing Economies

Poverty in underdeveloped and developing countries can be ameliorated and eventually eliminated through education. The most important contributor towards child education is the mother. If women are educated, the world will be a better place due to entrepreneurship, better employment opportunities, and fewer misguided kids gravitating towards terrorism.

 

As those economies improve, they become better markets for the world to serve. What a win-win situation.

 

Opportunities exist for entrepreneurs, and will also help future generations to come.

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Campaign: What do you most need to learn to be an even more effective leader?

Managerial courage

Developing the capacity to: not hold back anything that needs to be said but to remain collegial; providing current, direct, complete, and “actionable” positive and corrective feedback to others; letting people know where they stand; facing up to people problems on any person or situation (not including direct reports) quickly and directly; willingness to take negative action when necessary.

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Campaign: What societal challenges could be improved by the Wharton alumni network?

Endowments in Non-Profits and Higher Education

An alien observing human life from afar might be puzzled by these weird financial institutions called "universities" that have inexplicable educational operations attached to them. What does it mean that Penn and the other Ivies amass huge fortunes and spend only 4 percent of them each year. One explanation is that they need big reserves to buffer business cycles. That might explain a billion or so. But, why do they need 10s of Billions. Doesn't hoarding cash imply that the institutions can not productively invest that cash? Stakeholders would take a very hard view on a company that hoarded so much cash and did not invest it productively. It is time for some clear economic reasoning to be applied to philanthropic capital and the financing of higher education.

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Campaign: What business topics or issues are most challenging to you right now?

Competitive Advantage, Business Models & Venture Capital

Scott Lenet WG '97 has recently authored a book on competitive advantage in the venture capital industry, with a focus on helping entrepreneurs design strategy and implement tactics for creating sustainable advantage by changing elements of their business models. In a one-hour presentation, Scott will highlight the methods described in the book, based on successes and failures from his 20 year career as a venture capitalist and entrepreneur.

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Campaign: What do you most need to learn to be an even more effective leader?

Becoming a Successful Director (Board of Company or Non-Profit)

How does one transition to become a successful Director on an organization's Board? Defining legal responsibilities, current best practices, case studies on working through challenging issues and suggestions as what to make board vs. shareholder issues in documentation could be a useful topic that will apply to many current and future Wharton alumni.

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