Cold Call: Black Business Leaders Series 2022
This special weekly series features faculty discussing cases with Black business leaders and issues of racial equity and diversity at the forefront.
02 Feb 2022  

February 1: Making Diverse Leadership a Priority at Whittier College

In 2018, Linda Oubré was selected as the president of Whittier College in Los Angeles County – the first Black woman to serve in that role. The student body had been slowly evolving to represent the growing diversity of the surrounding area, but the college’s leadership remained largely white and male.

Oubré set her sights on diversifying the college’s staff, administration, and board of trustees. Harvard Business School professor Debora Spar and Oubré discuss how she galvanized support among the college’s constituents, while making hard changes in the case, “Linda Oubré at Whittier College.

February 8: What’s Next for Nigerian Production Studio EbonyLife Media?

After more than 20 years in the media industry in the UK and Nigeria, EbonyLife Media CEO Mo Abudu is considering several strategic changes for her media company’s future. Will her mission to tell authentic African stories to the world be advanced by distributing films and TV shows direct to customers? Or should EbonyLife instead distribute its content through third-party streaming services, like Netflix? Assistant Professor Andy Wu discusses Abudu’s plans for her company in his case, "EbonyLife Media."

February 15: How to Make Venture Capital Accessible for Black Founders: An Entrepreneur’s Dilemma

In May of 2021, Kevin D. Johnson had just graduated from a rigorous Executive MBA program, and he needed to decide on his next career move. Johnson was the founder and CEO of a successful media company, but his career goals had shifted during business school. He wanted to use his talents to help other Black entrepreneurs access capital and provide opportunities to create intergenerational wealth. Johnson evaluated his four options: work full-time at an online platform dedicated to connecting Black founders with funding, join a BIPOC-focused venture capital (“VC”) firm, pursue a job at an established VC firm, or continue scaling his media company.

Harvard Business School senior lecturer Jo Tango and Johnson discuss which option he should choose in the case, “Kevin D. Johnson: To Be a Venture Capitalist or an Operator.”

February 22: How to Scale a Startup Marketplace for Used Furniture

AptDeco, a peer-to-peer marketplace for used furniture in the New York City area, was growing rapidly in the massive $120 billion furniture market, despite its complexity and high costs. Co-founders Reham Fagiri and Kalam Dennis were considering different options to scale the business, including converting sellers into buyers and vice versa, finding superusers to fuel the supply for their platform, expanding to new markets, and rebranding with a sustainability focus.

Harvard Business School associate professor Ayelet Israeli and AptDeco co-founder Kalam Dennis discuss the best way to scale the business in the case, "AptDeco: Circular Economy Furniture Marketplace."

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Cold Call: Black Business Leaders Series 2021


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