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

Share your Doubt

A Wharton Alumnus can learn or study “technical” skills (like finance, statistics, languages, products, advertising, etc) but very often that’s not what he needs to learn to solve critical problems or take fundamental decisions. At a certain point in the career, one needs other skills that go beyond problem solving and that have a lot to do with experience and knowledge.

Wharton owns a wealth of experience and knowledge through Faculty, Alumni and Students.

The idea then would be to use this distributed experience and knowledge to focus on a specific “Doubt”: a critical problem or a fundamental decision.

Once a problem or decision is identified:

- The proponent could frame the Doubt and the context as necessary pre-work,

- Wharton could help in the choice of the team members (based on industry experience, similarities, background, volunteers, etc),

- The team members accept to prepare and participate to this unique “Board Meeting” (a “Sounding board Meeting”…), with the aim to contribute and candidly express their opinions and questions

- A working session (Sounding Board Meeting) takes place, with presentation, debate, conclusions and possibly short term follow-up.

- Once the main objective is accomplished, the working session can also broaden the discussion to other related themes or… Doubts

- The Faculty can of course decide to use the case in the courses

- The Faculty can also define the Frame or general Theme, within which proponents can add their Doubt

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

The integrated health care organization

How do you bring the integrated health care organization into being, tying in care delivery (what you're doing immediately) with your dept. of epidemiology (telling you what's going on around you) with health services evaluation and research (in essence, your quality control and product development), then paid for with tax and private financing (but increasingly becoming pre-paid budgeting), and all of it to be managed with a focus on accountability? It's more than a quantum leap from what we have now, but can we achieve it?

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

Reciprocity event

Participants come to the event with an something they would like help with. Could be an introduction, advice on topic, etc. Participants divide themselves into groups ~15 and each person shares what they are doing and what they would like help with. Anyone in the group who can help then gives the individual a post-it note with their contact info so that they may follow up afterwards.

 

Right before the end, whoever wants can quickly make their request to the other groups. All requests for help are written on a blackboard and when the event ends participants go around the blackboard adding their contact info post-it note under the requests for which they can help.

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

Ethics - Still worth teaching?

Over the last five years, CEOs and senior executives across the business landscape (many with MBAs from top schools)have shown an almost total disregard for ethics and integrity in their business behavior. Is teaching ethics at B-School a waste of time and should we acknowledge that ethical values have already been shaped by the time people go to business school?

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

Managing Organizational Change

How to effectively lead and present the case for change in an organization; getting "buy-in" from key stakeholders; how to avoid and overcome resistance; best practices in communicating to further the change process; tolerance for ambiguity; the relationship between personal and organizational change management.

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