Talk on May 7, 2021: Tanner Krause, CEO of Kum & Go

We were thrilled to host DePaul MBA Alumnus Tanner Krause, CEO of Kum & Go for the Economics & Strategy Talk on May 7, 2021.

Kum & Go is a Midwest-based convenience store chain that sells gasoline and retail items. Tanner offered a candid conversation about his background, strategic vision, and the forces influencing innovative decisions for Kum & Go.

Presenter Biography

Tanner Krause is the CEO of Kum & Go, headquartered in Des Moines, IA. He is the fourth generation to lead in the family-owned business. As CEO, Tanner oversees the marketing, operations, human resources, information technology, finance and store development functions. Together, these teams provide support to 5,000 associates in 400 stores across 11 states.

Tanner’s work experience with Kum & Go dates back more than twenty years, when he began working part-time in stores. With nearly ten years of store experience, plus four different internships with Kum & Go, he became a District Supervisor in the Des Moines, IA area in 2013. Following completion of his MBA, he became Kum & Go’s Director of Operations in 2016. In January of 2017, Tanner became the Senior Vice President of Grow People leading all of the human resources functions of the business and in June 2018, Tanner was named President of Kum & Go. In January 2021 Tanner succeeded his father as CEO. Tanner’s passion for Kum & Go’s associates and stores is a highlight in every role he has held within the company. Tanner also provides strategic direction and support to several other businesses in the Krause Group portfolio.

Prior to his Kum & Go history, Tanner worked through the E. & J. Gallo Winery’s Management Development Program, working as a Sales Representative for Wirtz Beverage Group (IL) for two years before joining Empire Merchants (NY) as a Field Sales Manager. He appreciates the opportunities provided to him by the Gallo family, as well as their commitment to skill development and career pathing.

Tanner received two Bachelor’s in Business Administration degrees from Loyola University in Chicago in 2010 – Finance and Economics. Additionally, Tanner is a member of the most successful graduating class in Loyola Ramblers Men’s Soccer history. In 2016, he graduated with a Master’s in Business Administration from DePaul University, concentrating in Business Strategy.

Living in Des Moines, IA with his wife, Hannah, the two share a passion for community betterment. Tanner is a board member of the Boys & Girls Club of Central Iowa. Hannah is a board member of the Food Bank of Iowa. The couple have a young daughter.

Episode 016: Bob Schiller, National General Insurance

In this episode, we speak with DePaul MBA alumnus, Bob Schiller. Bob is the Countrywide Product Manager at National General Insurance (an Allstate Company).

Insurance is at the foundation of de-risking many other activities, making them more accessible and fueling economic development. That also means that insurance can inherently be a slow-moving industry in terms of its own innovation. However, technology and consumer preferences have drastically changed in the past decade, which is forcing some relatively quick changes for insurance in the forms of M&A, technology adoption, and product development.

Curious what those changes are? Well Bob’s got you covered, so have a listen!

Episode 015: Marty Friel, Ameriprise Financial Services

This month we speak with DePaul MS-EPA Alumnus, Marty Friel. Marty has been a financial advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services for nearly 16 years.

Financial advising is a highly competitive industry for two reasons. Firstly, its largely non-differentiated. The service is usually only differentiated by the way products are packaged and the relationships built by individual advisors. But in the end, all a consumer wants is to make sure their savings will be there for retirement.

The second reason is the industry can be considered a credence good, meaning its hard to judge the quality of an investment strategy even after years of being a client. Marty talks with us about how using economics and strategy frameworks has super charged his ability to differentiate himself from competitors and demonstrate his quality to his clients.

Episode 014: Bradley Lerner, Equipment International

This month we are joined by DePaul MBA Alumnus and COO of Equipment International, Bradley Lerner.

In February 2020, Bradley had recently stepped into his role as the operations leader for a Chicago based firm that sells and services industrial laundry solutions. As you might expect, this is a mature and competitive industry with established relationships across verticals like hospitality and health care. 

Bradley began surveying the lay of the land and developing a strategic plan… and then the lockdowns began. One year later, Bradley talks with us about his experience balancing the responsibilities of crisis manager and strategic leader. Curious about his journey? Keep on listening to learn more.

Talk on February 19, 2021: Algorithmic Pricing and Market Competition

Our next Economics & Strategy Talk hosted Professor Joseph Harrington from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania who presented “Algorithmic Pricing & Market Competition” on February 19, 2021.

As a result of Big Data and AI, firms can condition prices on high frequency data, tailor prices to narrow submarkets, and more effectively learn in order to discover the most profitable pricing rules. While there are potential efficiency benefits from these advances, concerns have been raised about possible consumer harm. Enhanced price discrimination fueled by customer-specific data may result in a transfer of surplus from consumers to firms. Automated pricing could make markets more efficient by increasing the speed of response to demand and supply changes but could also undermine price competition. Learning algorithms could discover more profitable pricing rules but that could be because they facilitate collusion. Competition authorities have expressed concern with the growing role of algorithmic pricing and there is an active policy debate as to whether legal and enforcement regimes are equipped to deal with it. This talk reviewed the emergence and effect of algorithmic pricing in a variety of markets including pricing by platforms such as Uber, bidding at Google sponsored search auctions by digital marketing agencies, and the use of a third party’s pricing algorithm such as at Amazon Marketplace and in retail gasoline markets. Also explored was a recent case in which firms colluded by coordinating their pricing algorithms and the prospect of collusion autonomously achieved by AI.

Presenter Biography

Professor Joseph Harrington is the Patrick T. Harker Professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is considered one of the world’s leading authorities on collusion and cartels. Prof. Harrington has published more than 80 scholarly papers and given keynote lectures on five continents including addresses at the annual meetings of the European Association for Research in Industrial Economics, the Chilean Economic Association, and the German Economic Association.

He has presented before or advised more than a dozen competition authorities including those of Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, and the U.S. He has served as President of the Industrial Organization Society and been a member of the editorial boards of all major journals in industrial organization. He is the author or co-author of Economics of Regulation and Antitrust, The Theory of Collusion and Competition Policy, and the forthcoming Hub-and-Spoke Cartels: Why They Form, How They Operate, and How to Prosecute Them. Reflecting his general interest in strategic decision-making, he has also written Games, Strategies, and Decision Making.

Episode 013: Tom Lubinski, adidas

In this episode we are joined by DePaul Triple Demon Tom Lubinski, Product Manager at adidas.

As you might expect from the competitive nature of sports, the sports apparel industry is similarly competitive. Jobs at firms are coveted by sports lovers, so high performance expectations tend to be intrinsically built into company cultures. This permeates into the everlasting chase of identifying new trends across cultures, sports, and market segments, which must be drilled down into the products Tom builds. 

There’s a lot to consider, so we hope you’ll listen to find out more!

Episode 012: Kirsten Ahlen, Ahlen Consulting

In this last episode of 2020, we speak with DePaul Double Demon, Kirsten Ahlen. Kirsten is a musician turned consultant that specializes in strategic management for Associations.

Associations are a specific kind of nonprofit that usually represents a trade or professional group to communicate industry standards, avenues for continuing education, and policy considerations. Kirsten talks with us about the interesting industry landscape for Associations as well as the challenges of creating differentiated value. 

Associations have been forced to adopt technology solutions a much quicker pace as the industry begins to accept that our definition of normal from pre-COVID times is quickly becoming thing of the past.

Episode 011: Brian Raff, American Institute of Steel Construction

This month we speak with DePaul MBA Alumnus, Brian Raff. He is the Vice President of Market Development at the American Institute of Steel Construction.

The Steel Construction industry is at the heart of large scale and infrastructure level construction projects, with notable rivals like Concrete and Wood. Brian speaks with me about how Steel Construction works with representative firms and government organizations to advocate for legislation that achieves its intended purpose while still encouraging a level playing field.

Brian talks with us about the growing environmental awareness that has led to a more regulated steel construction industry. He describes how his industry is supportive of legislative goals, some misconceptions about steel, and about some areas of innovation.

It’s a great conversation, so we hope you’ll listen in!

Episode 010: Dan Ludovisi, Sargent & Lundy

In this episode, I have the pleasure of speaking with DePaul MBA Alumnus, Dan Ludovisi. Dan is a Mechanical Engineering Manager and Consultant with Sargent & Lundy and teaches Energy Economics at DePaul University, which is the subject of today’s conversation: Energy!

The energy industry is a massive complex network of power production, distribution and delivery that cooperates across regional and national boundaries that supports both our present and future economy. Dan talks with me about the challenges faced by our society as we recognize the importance of moving toward to more sustainable energy sources while our overall demand steadily increases. 

Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix, but there are some interesting disruptions on the horizon. Curious what they are? Well, listen in!

Talk on October 21, 2020: The Value of Nature to Our Economic Well-Being

On October 21, 2020, Ralph Chami presented a 1-hour presentation called “The Value of Nature to Our Economic Well-Being” followed by Q&A.

For the longest time, humans have assumed that they are separate from the natural world and that nature provides infinite commodities. These two assumptions helped fuel the industrial revolution, but at the same time, resulted in the abuse of nature and in the climate crisis. We need a new paradigm, a new way of thinking which recognizes that humans are part of the natural world and that nature is a finite input into our lives and livelihood. This realization—of the value of nature—allows us to develop a framework for natural resource valuation that also directly addresses the fundamental collective action problem in environmental protection.

Ralph highlights how their valuation framework uses the lessons of behavioral economics to create values that individual decision makers find credible and relatable, in addition to stimulating excitement or concern that is essential to prompting action around environmental issues. He then discusses how to apply this framework to value forest elephants in Africa and great whales that are found off the coasts of Brazil and Chile. The values they estimate for individual members of these species are significant: $1.75 million per forest elephant and an average of $2 million per whale.

He then discusses how their valuations lead to new designs for environmental preservation and restoration policies. Finally, he sketches how we can build a new economy that partners with the natural world to ensure a sustainable, inclusive and nature-friendly economic growth.

Get a preview of this talk with this 8-minute video.

Read the published paper here.

Presenter Biography

Ralph Chami is currently Assistant Director in the Institute for Capacity Development (ICD), International Monetary Fund, where he oversaw the development and implementation of the internal economics training program for all IMF economists as well as the revamping of the Institute’s external training program for officials from member countries. Most recently, he was Assistant Director and Division Chief in the Middle East and Central Asia Department where he oversaw surveillance and program work on fragile states: Egypt, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Yemen, and was Mission Chief for Libya and Somalia. 

He is the recipient of the 2014 IMF Operational Excellence Award for his work on Libya. Previously, he was the Chief of the Regional Studies Division, where he oversaw regional surveillance of 32 countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia regions, and the production of the Regional Economic Outlook. Prior to that, he was the Chief of the Middle Eastern Division of the IMF Institute where he oversaw capacity development in that region. He joined the IMF in 1999. From 1991 till 1999, he was on the faculty of Finance in the Department of Finance, University of Notre Dame in Indiana. He also served as a consultant to the World Bank, and to the private sector in the US.

Ralph Chami has a BS from the American University of Beirut, an MBA in Finance and Statistics from the University of Kansas, and a Ph.D. in Economics from the Johns Hopkins University. His areas of specialization are: banking regulation and supervision, financial markets, remittances, and climate. His hobbies include music and yoga. Ralph is a semi-professional guitarist for over 40 years