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.

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!

Episode 009: Maggie McHenry, Florence Crittenton Services

We are joined this month by Double Demon Alumnus, Maggie McHenry. Maggie is the Director of Development at Florence Crittenton Services, a nonprofit in Colorado that supports teen mothers and their children.

In this episode, Maggie talks with me about how she approaches strategy from a nonprofit perspective while leveraging the frameworks that, at first glance, might seem more suited to for-profits. While there are significant differences to explore between these two organizational models, the underlying purpose of strategy remains the same: Find a unique and sustainable way to create and capture value in a challenging industry and dynamic competitive landscape.

I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did!

Episode 008: Sarah Wojtowicz, ITW

This month I had the pleasure of speaking with Strategic Sourcing Specialist, Sarah Wojtowicz. She is a DePaul Alumnus who earned her MBA in 2015 with concentrations in Operation Management and Business Strategy & Decision-Making.

Procurement roles can sometimes be thought of as simply a business function that looks for the lowest price, but Sarah tells me about how much care and strategy is involve in every negotiation, whether it be with new or existing relationships. Having a strong understanding of your industry, competition, the firm you’re negotiating with, and even the individual across the table can all affect the ultimate outcome of buyer/supplier relationship.

There was a delightful amount of nuance to learn. Keep listening to find out more.

Episode 007: Casey Hartman, FedEx Express

Casey Hartman has over 18 years of experience with FedEx and is currently the Operations Manager for FedEx Express. He is a Double Demon Alumnus with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Masters of Science in Economics & Policy Analysis.  

“Last mile” delivery is the most salient portion of the supply chain industry, but it is also the most complicated and costly part. In the past, the US has only really relied on UPS, USPS, and FedEx. However, the growth in scale and scope of Amazon, rapidly changing that landscape. So what’s it like to compete in this industry? How will it change in the coming years, especially with our increasing reliance on those firms during the pandemic?

It’s big topic that Casey offers some wonderful insight into.

Keep listening to find out more.

Episode 006: Erin Jordan Spanski, Walker Sands

Please note that this episode was recorded on May 20th, 2020. While we speak about how the pandemic has impacted the world, our conversation does not acknowledge the drastic and necessary increased awareness of sustained injustice, inequality, and inequity experienced by Black Americans. We stand by the message of solidarity from DePaul University’s Leadership.

Erin Jordan Spanski is Vice President and Partner at Walker Sands, a B2B marketing agency. She is a DePaul MBA Alumnus with concentrations in Business Strategy & Decision-Making and Marketing.

Marketing is already a challenging discipline because one must understand a plethora of complex interactions and motivations between the firm’s marketing mix and consumer. B2B marketing agencies have second and third orders of complexity. Not only do they have to be familiar with their market, but they also need to know their client’s market, and also know their client’s customer’s market!

This bodes question: how do you create value and a sustainable advantage in a value chain that might be complex and opaque?

It’s a big question to which Erin provides some wonderful insight. Listen to find out more.

Episode 005: Kristy Nitskoff, Vista Consulting Group

Kristy Nitskoff is the Director of Talent Consulting at Vista Consulting Group and is a DePaul Alumnus with concentrations in Business Strategy & Decision-Making, as well as Leadership & Change Management.

Filling open positions at any company can be quite stressful. There are important trade offs between filling the role quickly versus filling the role with the right person. Kristy talks with us about how she helps firms develop strategies to not only hire the right person, but do to so efficiently. We also talk about the changing landscape of being a Talent Consultant and where her market might be expanding beyond what she traditionally targeted.