(Finnish Consul General Kirsti Westphalen presents UCLA Anderson Adjunct Professor Bob Foster ('65) with a medal signifying the honor of Knight, First Class, of the order of the White Rose of Finland. Photo by UCLA Photography.)
Bob Foster (’65) – alumnus, professor, advisor, mentor, and friend – now has a new designation as the government of Finland has bestowed upon him the honor of Knight, First Class, of the order of the White Rose of Finland. This is the highest honor the government of Finland may present to a non- Finnish citizen.
Foster received his knighthood December 9, 2011, at the Los Angeles residence home of Finnish Consul General Kirsti Westphalen. The ceremony was attended by UCLA Anderson Dean Judy Olian, Senior Associate Deans Alfred E. Osborne, Jr. and Carla Hayn, Associate Dean Gonzalo Freixes and Vice-Chancellor Emeritus Dr. Elwin Svenson, who is Foster’s close colleague in the administration of Anderson’s Global Access Program (GAP). Svenson himself joined the Order of the White Rose when he was knighted by the Finnish government in 2004. The ceremony for Foster took place at a dinner the consul general held for a group of Finnish business executives who had traveled to Los Angeles to witness the final GAP presentations given the following day on the Anderson campus.
“Finns know their friends. Tonight, while we are looking at the wonderful achievements of the UCLA GAP program, we want to recognize our friends (and) there is especially one special friend present here,” said Consul General Westphalen at the dinner. “At the request of the President of the Republic of Finland, I have the honor to bestow upon (Bob Foster) a very significant recognition: Knight First Class, The Order of White Rose of Finland.
“Our Finnish friends know what a prestigious award this is but to put it into perspective for our American and international friends, this is an award similar to the Presidential Medal of Freedom that the President of the United States bestows for extraordinary achievements. On behalf of Finland, on behalf of all of us, the one thousand alumni who you have fostered into maturity in their businesses, we are truly grateful to you,” the consul general said as she presented the medal to Foster.
Alison Hewitt, our colleague from UCLA Today, has posted a cool Q&A with UCLA Anderson Assistant Professor of Marketing Suzanne Shu. We've had the pleasure of writing about Shu a couple of times this year, once regarding our collective addiction to daily deals and also regarding the value of an "attractive" annual report. Hewitt's story discusses how those gift cards we all receive during the holidays actually "trick our psyche."
According to the UCLA Today story, "Shu says Americans leave billions of dollars on the table each year in the form of unused and forgotten gift cards. Studies have found that 5-10 percent of these plastic presents go unspent, and the 2010 Consumer Reports Holiday Shopping Poll found about 27 percent of people still hadn't spent their cards from the previous year."
"People create this ideal about when they want to use a gift card or what they want to use it for. Then they go looking for that ideal. It’s similar to the problem people have with using frequent flier miles or vacation days: The numbers of leftover days or miles are huge. People think, 'I’d better use those on something really special.' They’re so focused on finding the ideal match that they wait and then forget or lose them.
To find out the details on why we're not using our gift cards, click here.
(Photo courtesy Alison Hewitt, UCLA Today.)
UCLA Anderson Board of Visitors member Tom Epley is a "Turnaround CEO." In a new story posted on the UCLA Anderson web site, it says that "Since starting his career as a young MBA graduate in the management training program at FMC Corporation, Epley has led more than a dozen companies with revenues ranging from $50 million to $1 billion."
Recently, Epley has applied his turnaround talents to providing aid in Africa. From the article:
His friendship with Bob Klitgaard, an acclaimed expert on undeveloped countries and then dean of the Rand Public Policy graduate school, brought a rare opportunity for an extensive visit throughout the area that has since become South Sudan. That led to a three-year research and writing project, resulting in The Plague of Good Intentions - We Broke Africa, Here's How to Fix It. In the book, Epley applies principles from his corporate experience to issues such as food production and infrastructure development in central Africa. His conclusion is surprising. Years of study convinced him that most aid efforts in the area do far more harm than good.
Epley's background as a turnaround specialist provides a context for his view of Africa. He had a string of successes managing diverse businesses at FMC. Then he joined investor Irwin Jacobs who owned the Bekins Company and stakes in many other companies. "We acquired firms, quickly assessed where the values were and rapidly generated returns for investors," he says. Epley moved to California to revitalize Bekins and then went on to do the same with one holding after another.
"Cultural change is the fundamental thing I do when turning around a company," he says. "You have to line up the dynamics of the people in a company - like a magnet lining up particles." One of his axioms is, 'Go northwest.' If north is the perfect strategy, Epley does not spend six months figuring out where true north is. He points a firm in a northerly direction, gets everybody pulling the oars together and gradually adjusts course to get to true north.
Here is a 2008 video of Epley talking about his work in Africa:
To read the entire article, click here.
The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce IndexTM was up only 0.1% in November, a result that comes as a bit of surprise after the strong retail sales that occurred in October and again manifested during and after "Black Friday." UCLA Anderson Forecast Director Ed Leamer, who also serves as chief economist for the @CeridianIndex, says that:
"This suggests that retailers are going in to December's high-volume sales period with relatively low inventories. You shoppers out there might expect sales that are not so aggressive, not the greatest prices and a lot less merchandise for after Christmas sales. That still could be good for retailers who will have a high-price/low-volume December because prices will be so high they might make a pretty good rate of return on their sales (this) Christmas.
You can view Leamer's entire commentary on the November @CeridianIndex release in the video above, it includes commentary on GDP.
For more on the November Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce index, click here.
UCLA Anderson has gone to a paperless application process that allows admissions officers to review applications on an an Ipad. The Wall Street Journal has the story today.
The UCLA Anderson School of Management has taken the iPad plunge. The business school now is reviewing all M.B.A. applications on the Apple Inc. tablet devices, moving away from printouts of essays, recommendations and transcripts.
"We were drowning in paper," says Craig Hubbell, an associate admissions director.
The new paperless system is advantageous for admissions officers, who are now able to easily sort through applications to check to see where the applications are coming from, identify the diversity of the imcoming class or create cut offs based on test scores or career experience.
Hubbell, who blogged on the topic at the MBA Insider's blog a few weeks ago, the UCLA Anderson blog today about some of the security features of the paperless process. "On any one Ipad, the only applications are those assigned to that particular admissions officer, so no one Ipad has all the applications. Also, each Ipad is assigned an expiration date down to the minute and when that minute comes around -- boom -- the application evaporates.
"We're pleased with how the new system is working," Hubbell says. "It speeds up the process and allows us to deepen the analysis, which really helps with the big increase in applications we've seen this year. It really expedites the process and allows us to admit the best people."
Yael Davidowitz-Neu ('13) is a first-year UCLA Anderson student who did time at Google in a variety of roles including global sales strategist before enrolling. She blogs for UCLA Anderson's Student Voice Blog; she also blogs for Bloomberg BusinessWeek for MBA Journal.
Last Week, Davidowitz-Neu wrote a piece for BusinessWeek's blog regarding the myths that seem to perpetuate themselves about management and business schools. Here is a sample:
Misconception No. 1: The touchy-feely stuff is a waste of time
While I consider group dynamics to be an important component of a team’s success, my experience has been that exercises designed solely for the purposes of team-building have typically tended toward the silly and redundant. Of course, given the value placed on these sorts of activities in the business world, I nonetheless expected them to be part of any full-time MBA program. Knowing they were merely a set of necessary hurdles I would have to overcome to receive my degree, I planned to grit my teeth and participate.
Still, there were limits to what I was willing to do, and climbing a utility pole was definitely out of the question … or so I thought. Being fully aware that a ropes course was pretty low on the danger scale did not make the idea of being suspended in the air any less terrifying. Yet, despite my resolve to avoid the “high elements” of the ropes course at all costs, I found myself by the end of the day literally climbing outside my comfort zone.
My teammates and I were all meant to cheer on one another, but given that I hardly knew the majority of the people in my group, I was not anticipating anyone challenging my decision to skip out on the day’s activities. I was wrong. My classmates were anxious for me to join them and refused to stop pestering me, until I finally agreed at least to get dressed in proper climbing gear and attempt the initial rung of the course.
Once I began to climb, I faltered on several occasions. Ultimately, I made it to the top rung. I was incredibly frightened, but as I listened to my classmates cheering for me at the top of their lungs, I felt the least I could do was respond to the exceptional level of encouragement I was receiving by attempting to be as strong as they seemed to believe I was.
In spite of the misgivings I had experienced going into the day, making it to the top of that utility pole meant something to me. It reminded me that I am braver than I give myself credit for and made me feel supported in such a way that I felt nearly invincible. Far from being pointless, the team-building exercise for which I had felt such disdain helped me enter the academic year more confident and closer to my classmates.
Yael also discusses several other myths related to starting business school such as "I know what I want to do after business school" (most don't) and "There’s no way I will really be that busy" (you will be).
Read the rest of Yael's myth-busting post here.
Jim Stengel is an adjunct professor of marketing at UCLA Anderson. He's also president and CEO of The Jim Stengel Company, LLC. Previously, he served as the global marketing officer for Procter & Gamble, where he oversaw the marketing and branding for one of the world's largest companies and some of the world's biggest brands.
Stengel is now the author of a new book called "Grow - How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World's Greatest Companies." (According to Amazon.com, the book will be released on December 27, 2011.) Fortune (and its partners at CNNMoney) have a preview of the book.
In his new book, Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World's Greatest Companies, Stengel draws on 10 years of data from 50,000 businesses to identify 50 of the world's top brands. Teaming up with UCLA and research firm Millward Brown Optimor to do the analysis, he's come to this conclusion: What propels a successful company is not cutthroat business sense but an understanding of the purpose that drives its brand. In other words: If you make your customers' lives better, they'll return the favor.
The excert at CNNMoney highlights ten of Stengel's favorite brands, culled from the Stengel 50, his list of the world's 50 best brands. The highlights include Discovery Communications, London-based food and beverage company Innocent, Method, Pampers, Brazil's Petrobras, Louis Vuitton, Natura, Zappos, and Jack Daniels.
Jim and The UCLA Forecast Blog have been corresponding of late. He's teaching during Winter Quarter and we look forward to sitting down with him after the New Year to discuss Grow. Look for the post next month.
The UCLA Anderson Forecast released its latest prognostications yesterday and much of the media carried stories. The opening paragraph of the press release that accompanied the forecast reads as follows:
In its fourth quarterly report of 2011, the UCLA Anderson Forecast’s outlook for the nation sees GDP growth at a “below trend rate” for the next five quarters. Specifically, the Forecast calls for a 2% growth rate for the current quarter and a sub-2% growth rate for most of 2012. Further down the road, GDP is forecasted to exceed 3% in 2013 as a number of contractionary forces continue to abate. Despite the tepid numbers, the current national forecast is actual more optimistic in tone than the preceding forecasts of June and September. In California, the current forecast is for the recent surge in employment to abate while slow growth persists on average through 2012. The rest of the United States, the state’s international trading partners and consumer purchases will combine to generate faster growth in 2013.
Here is some of the media's coverage: