Friday, October 10, 2014

Business Responsibility in Emerging Markets

Reesha Padmanabh, VP Marketing of the Global Business Society shares her experience at the Business Responsibility in Emerging Markets event held at the Kelley School of Business last week.

Reesha Padmanabh
(MBA Class of 2015, Marketing & Business Analytics Major)

The Kelley School of Business Atrium was decked up with an elegant stage. There was an air of excitement as students arrived dressed sharply. Enthusiastic whispers filled the air as Curt Ferguson, the President of Coca Cola of North Africa and Middle East region, walked in. Thus began the much anticipated “Business Responsibility in Emerging Markets” event, sponsored by the Institute for International Business (IIB), Global Business Society (GBS) and Net Impact.

The IIB, Net Impact and GBS Leadership teams welcomed him to his alma mater. As VP of Marketing, GBS, I was thrilled at the opportunity of personally interacting with the leader who is responsible for all aspects of Coca Cola’s business in 33 countries selling over 1.5 billion cases of Coca Cola products annually to more than 768 million consumers from Morocco to Egypt in North Africa and Ghana in West Africa through the entire Middle East and Central Asia in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The event, attended by over 130 graduate and undergraduate students, kicked off with Ash Soni, Executive Associate Dean for Academic Programs, introducing the guest speaker, his background and achievements. Curt Ferguson then took over the stage. He captivated the audience through sharing his experiences over the years. He offered insights that opened our eyes to how situations in different economies affected products and their marketing strategies, and how environmental sustainability and social responsibility were integrated in every business decision.

Curt revealed how Coca Cola undertook marketing campaigns in developing countries without being limited by political situations. During difficult times between India and Pakistan, Coca Cola worked towards building friendliness and mutual liking between citizens of the two countries through providing live communication portals. It was endearing to watch a video showing the impact of this campaign. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ts_4vOUDImE)

It was fascinating to learn about Coca Cola’s 5by20 initiative towards Women Empowerment launched in 2010. Coca Cola believes that investing in women will enable economic growth and sustainable development. Through this program, over 550,000 women in 44 countries have been empowered through various programs driven by the major elements of the Coca Cola value chain.
It was especially interesting to know about a program which brought around 100 students from countries such as Syria, Jordan, Israel, Yemen and Palestine in the Middle East to Indiana University every summer to attend classes, participate in case competitions and discuss about various business opportunities in their countries. Curt, who serves on the International Committee for the Indiana University Foundation, expressed a desire to link the MBA student body at Kelley with students in those countries, in order to initiate discussions among students belonging to similar age groups and having common interests.

The floor was then opened to questions. Curt answered various queries posed by several students from different geographic backgrounds. One interesting question revolved around Coca Cola’s choice between the trademark Coca Cola glass bottle in some countries and aluminum cans in others. Curt revealed how it was reasonable to manufacture glass bottles in some regions such as the Middle East where sand was abundantly available. He also encouraged everyone to recycle Coke cans indicating how easy and economical it was to recreate a new can from a recycled one.

Curt’s talk was followed by a reception allowing students to network over food and Coca Cola products. Sarah Nagelvoort, President of Kelley Net Impact, said, “Net Impact’s goal for the event was to reach students with the message that industry leaders such as Coca Cola have recognized that social and environmental responsibility are not just another box to be checked but integral steps in doing business and creating long-term value.” Adan Abbey, President of Kelley GBS, said, “Curt's presentation was insightful and gave attendees a glimpse into the challenges and opportunities of running a business in a dynamic region of the world, the Middle East and North Africa. As a manager, keeping your pulse on the rapidly changing external environment, and not being afraid to make the tough calls, were some key messages that stood out to me.”

Overall, the event served as a fantastic learning platform for the attendees, was very well organized and greatly lauded by all.










Friday, August 8, 2014

Women Communicating in the Workplace: An Intern’s Perspective

 By 'Liz Lewis

During the course of my 10 week internship I've observed how people have interacted with me not only as an intern but also as a woman.  At my previous workplace, I was the go to gal, when there was a problem, I’d be vocal enough to get it fixed, unlike many of my Japanese counterparts.  I began to think that I was good at communicating.  I decided it was best to be direct, to the point and clear.  After all, it’s hard enough to communicate in a second language so why waste time being ambiguous or subtle. 
'Liz Lewis ( MBA Class of  2015, Corporate Innovation & Management Major)

Having not worked in an American workplace in more than a decade, as well as being an intern, I wanted to take a step back, see how things were done in my new environment.  I’ll admit I was a little disappointed.  I began to do a little research into the topic of how women communicate in the American workplace and came across this article by Sophie Johnson of Demand Media.  - How a Woman Can Improve Gender Workplace CommunicationI watched and interacted with many of the women and men in my workplace and found a lot of what she said to be true.  Do you agree?  The question also came to mind of why should it be a woman’s responsibility to adjust to the men’s norms? 
What I found more interesting, after some reflection, is that many of my fellow female classmates already follow many of the suggestions made in the article, but that many of my current colleagues do not.   So how do we, as professional women, encourage other women in our workplace to better communicate, not only with our male colleagues but also with each other?
Over the last few weeks, more and more questions began popping up.  Do we use this knowledge when we are networking or when we are interviewing?  Should we approach male interviewers differently than we approach female interviewers?  And the list goes on and on. 
I’d love to hear about your experience with communicating in the workplace.  Leave a comment and let’s get an open discussion going on this topic.

Friday, July 11, 2014

You’re Always Networking, But Sometimes It’s Even Enjoyable

Written by: by Hannah Kay

Hannah Kay
(MBA Finance Major & MA in Russian and East European Studies, Class of 2015)

I hate networking. I think all of my friends at Kelley could tell you that, because I’ve told them so at least once. It feels artificial and strange to me, like I’m feeling my way through the dark with traps around every corner.

It’s not really so bad, but during the school year, it always felt that way. Somehow, I networked enough to land a great internship. Once the internship actually arrived, I was surprised to find out that I was expected to set goals for myself for the summer. Most could be modeled after the goals for the department, but I needed at least one personal goal. I knew that even though I had the internship, I would still need to do a fair amount of networking in order to get the job offer, and I knew how I felt about networking. So I decided to make that my personal goal, setting on paper specific goals for networking so I couldn't avoid it.

Networking within a company that has already given me an internship in a leadership program where networking is strongly encouraged seems suddenly like a logical step in the process instead of an idea that makes the introvert in me quake. I’ve set a goal and I’m working toward it. Every week I’m meeting with different people within my department to get to know them, what they’re doing, and what they’re hoping to do once they graduate the leadership program. They’re great resources for contacts within the company, both graduates of the leadership program but also upper level management.

I’m also realizing that networking takes other shapes as well, some more tied to the company culture than others. I’ve gone kayaking and played volleyball with coworkers. An IU alum is hosting dinner at his lake house in a few weeks for interns and alum, and I am very excited. A few weeks after I started, the company had an intern immersion day where we were introduced to the company and other interns through speakers and competitions. I certainly gained a new appreciation for engineers as we set about making a fan-powered car. My department took an entire Friday to enjoy a networking event with leadership program alumni that consisted of riding and driving cars around test tracks. Before that day, I don’t think I’d ever truly appreciated the joy of working for a car company or seen so many beaming smiles at work

Kayaking with Coworkers can be fun


Getting to know the people and culture also matter a lot to me now. I’m working hard in order to get an offer at the end of the summer, but I’m also evaluating if this is where I want to be in a year and in five years. Conversations are easier now that I have an understanding of the company from the inside, and I’m bringing value to the organization, which makes networking feel dramatically less unequal than before. Realizing I can’t avoid it, I’m learning to embrace networking, and it’s helping me make the most of my internship experience. That doesn’t mean I won’t be nervous on Wednesday when I have an informational interview with a Director in Supply Chain, but it does mean I’ll be able to laugh off my terrible kickball skills when our league starts on Tuesday.



Friday, June 27, 2014

Finding the Right Fit for You by Ashley Blair


Ashley Blair
(MBA Class of 2015, Finance & Corporate Innovation Major)
In any internship, you have to consider how well the organization fits with your values. It’s like a 10-12 week date and a tremendous opportunity to get a feel for what your future career could potentially look like. Just as you are looking for certain qualities in your first date, you should also be looking for certain qualities in the place you intern. Apologies if I am bringing back buried memories of awful first dates.
Everyone has their own criteria, so you just have to think about what really matters to you. Here’s an example. I have a strong interest in healthy living and being active. The organization I am interning for was named the healthiest employer of its size in Indianapolis and the 5th healthiest employer in America. The organization has a program called “Step it up” in which you can buy a discounted Fitbit and compete with coworkers for prizes based on your activity. Now when I go to meetings I am greeted with “you mind if we take the stairs? I need to get my steps in!” The ubiquitous Fitbits are paired with regular group walks on the canal, no full-sugar sodas in the machines, healthy food options in the cafes, and a variety of additional resources to take advantage of. We also spent our day of service revitalizing city parks to encourage kids to get out and play. These things really stood out to me and showed me that the organization truly cares about and makes an effort to encourage employees and people in the community to live well.
 Luckily you don’t have to spend a lot of effort crossing criteria off your list; you just have to look around and think about what matters to you in and outside of work. It also helps to do a little research in advance – recent news articles, rankings, etc. in the areas of your interest. And whether you find the perfect fit or not, rest assured there are plenty of fish in the sea.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go get my steps in.


Ashley(right) and Rohun Rangnekar (MBA Class of 2015)