Is it a hint of...Spring?

February 20, 2008

Well, I'm dreaming, suggestively. Really, this is the bitter nub of the year. I have decided to walk to school every day this week, to save the earth one step at a time (and also because my car needs an oil change). Blustering along the 25 minute walk, I keep reminding myself that when I return from Spring Break, it will be spring in New Haven. Then I notice the small green-yellow shoots pushing through the hard soil. It's official, my favorite core class this term is, unexpectedly--State and Society. Connie Bagley and Doug Rae have a wonderful rapport: they co-teach the class, but instead of alternating classes, they are both present in every class. It's like Mom and Dad sitting you down in the living room to give you lessons on how to conduct yourself. But more than that, it is so refreshing to have someone force me to pay attention to politics (we had a class on Super Tuesday, where we had to predict the delegate results), to the ramifications of business operations in policy and regulation, and, simply, to business ethics. I am also so grateful that Connie's lessons on the law will keep me out of jail one day. I was reading about SOM grad Laszlo Bock '99 who is the Vice President of People Operations at Google, and this summer I will be working for a company headed by another SOM grad, Indra Nooyi '80. In both I am awed by how they take their business leadership the next step, to consider the other dimensions of their actions. The article on Laszlo Bock writes,

"[Laszlo] said that while companies have spent decades focusing on how to sell more and operate more efficiently, very few have been as thoughtful on the topic of how to best instill a balance of autonomy, collaboration, and innovation among their people."

Similarly, Indra Nooyi has instilled a "performance with purpose" campaign at Pepsi, for example setting the goal of 50% of Pepsi's revenues to come from healthy products by 2010. This roundedness in thinking is like taking the blinders off of profit-only objectives. It considers all the ways business and the pieces that touch that business--society, the environment--interplay with each other. Value is not only about dollars. I'm still finding out, but this might be what distinguishes an SOM graduate.

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Sarah Michaelson