DePaul University’s Economics & Strategy Podcast is a monthly conversation with individuals who use frameworks taught in the Economics and Business Strategy & Decision-Making programs. The interviewees will represent multiple industries and various roles within their firms. The premise of the podcast is to examine how economic theory is being practically applied in real-world strategic situations.
A transformation that took time, some failure, learning to ask questions, and how to value those answers. He gives some great examples of how being open to learning, by whatever means, he developed skills and interests that he didn’t know he had or even wanted. The lesson is that even perfectly designed plans, developed in a vacuum, are often useless without the input of all the stakeholders involved.
If that isn’t strategic, I don’t know what is. Give it a listen.
October brings in MBA alumna Alla Antonov, to discuss her role as Principal Advisor, Commercial Strategy at the mining giant Rio Tinto. Alla specializes in the borates market. Rio, though, is a global, diversified firm with many products and an interesting business structure of four distinct operational entities and a single commercial team, Alla’s home, serving as its primary market interface for all products.
This is a great business with competitive advantage and high returns to capital. A nice place to be for any firm, but the question then becomes what are you going to do next? Rio Tinto isn’t standing idle. They’re innovating for efficiencies, embracing technology to lower environmental impacts and continuing to explore the world for the resources it needs.
It’s a good story and you should hear it.
So, what’s the product, and who’s the customer? Well, it depends. For Howard’s group, it’s firm’s looking for market intelligence to grow their business but what about the others? Such is the nature of a multi-sided platform. A business model that seeks to create value for distinct groups interacting across a core technology platform. LinkedIn has built a very elegant and focused version of this model.
What to know more? Keep Listening!
Jason talks about his current work, new developments in value-based care, information sharing and big data, and the potential of non-traditional health determinants. Evolving markets do make strategy challenging, but Evolent recently showed its strategic guile by refocusing into value-based, specialty care. Indicating this market could be engaging in value addition; a concept where firms focus on separate & distinct segments and increase value for everyone.
A rare economic win/win? Listen in.
In this increasingly competitive industry, there are reasons why this segment would seem difficult to crack, even for AWS. So how do they overcome these difficulties? Using the strategic principle of looking ahead and reasoning back. AWS looked ahead to each stage of client interactions, anticipated obstacles (perceived or real), and designed optimal responses to reinforce their market leading strengths. Leading with your strengths, I like that!
You should give it a listen.
This episode welcome’s strategy alumnus Dain Rideau. As a Product Manager for autonomous vehicle developer Torc Robotics, he works on connecting vehicles to information. Torc, a subsidiary of industry leading OEM Daimler Truck, focuses on self-driving trucks and while this space is filled with strategic uncertainty, this OEM partnership is a strategic marvel.
Why? During uncertainty, a leading firm’s priority is to protect its position. This partnership allows Daimler to participate in the advancement of autonomous technologies in its own vehicles. Simultaneously protecting its position and embracing the change, whatever that looks like. Smart!
Still, forward thinking firms like Walgreens are widening their definition of stakeholder to include social and environmental interests, seeing the potential payoff of cooperation between this wider interest group. In essence, Liam’s role is seeking, what economic theory calls, a Pareto optimal solution, where all these interest groups are served while taking away from none.
How does he do that? Listen in.
This is a great example of firm-level microeconomics where investments change production functions and the allocation of resources towards more efficient use. Seems intuitive but nice to see theory meet reality. Efficiency is always a strategic imperative and not just in perfectly competitive markets. Philip helps his clients get there. He’s also got a terrific outlook on life and business that’s worth hearing too.
You should listen!
In this Part 2 with Aaron Pagel, we learn more about his practice of wandering, and how that inspired him to ask an interesting question; what is hype? Turns out, isolating hype as a function itself, apart from its context, is relatively uncharted territory with little precedent or literature to lean on.
So, he decided to enter a PhD program and find out for himself. The open-ended, scholarly research process would provide the perfect sandbox to create and test these ideas. Is this a final destination? Maybe, maybe not, but that inspiration resulted from the curiosity before it, and whatever is next will result from the same. And so, it goes.
Want to be inspired? Listen in…
This month, I’m delighted to welcome my friend and creator & original host of this podcast Aaron Pagel. Aaron is currently pursuing a PHD at University of Oregon in Management Strategy with emphasis on Hype. However, his path getting there was anything but a straight line.
He joins us for part one of a two-part interview to discuss his unorthodox career path, lessons learned along the way, and where he’s going now. His story is a reminder that opportunity comes in unexpected ways, and at seemingly random times. However, good decisions at those moments are made easier with varied experience, openness to change, and even a little creativity.
Life’s short, enjoy the ride and make sure you listen in!