Podcast Roundup: Climate Issues Top of Mind for Faculty and Alumni

In celebration of Climate Week NYC 2019, we look back at some our favorite Cold Call and Skydeck podcasts, which highlight how our faculty are incorporating today's business climate issues into the MBA curriculum and feature alumni whose work is having a positive impact on the environment. Each episode is available below.

19 Sep 2019  

Cold Call distills Harvard Business School’s legendary case studies into podcast form. Hosted by Brian Kenny, the podcast airs every two weeks and features faculty discussing cases they’ve written and the lessons they impart.

Should a Pension Fund Try to Change the World?
Rebecca Henderson and George Serafeim (pictured)
Harvard Business School professors Rebecca Henderson and George Serafeim discuss the efforts of Hiro Mizuno, CIO of GPIF, the Japanese Government Pension Investment Fund, one of the largest pools of capital in the world, to integrate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues into every aspect of GPIF’s portfolio. Mizuno believed the only way to meet his responsibilities to his beneficiaries was to improve the performance of the entire economy by improving corporate governance, increasing inclusion and gender diversity, and reducing environmental damage from climate change. But, would it be enough to change the world? Should a pension fund even try to change the world? Henderson and Serafeim discuss these questions and more in their case, “Should a Pension Fund Try to Change the World? Inside GPIF’s Embrace of ESG.”

In the hundred-plus years since journalist Upton Sinclair shined a light on the deplorable conditions in the U.S. meat packing industry in his groundbreaking exposé, The Jungle, per capita meat consumption for Americans has increased 63%. Can the world continue to feed its growing meat-eating population? New technologies have the potential to revolutionize the meat industry by growing tissue culture beef… but, how do you market against the “yuck” factor? Harvard Business School professor Jose Alvarez aims to answer these questions.

American President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change just over a year ago. What does that mean for the role of United States companies and business leaders in confronting climate change challenges? Assistant Professor Vincent Pons looks at the historical debate and what the road ahead looks like for the role of business in improving the environment.

Enel, Italy’s state-owned power company, was one of Europe’s largest coal users and polluters. Now it is recognized as a leader in renewable energy services. How did it engineer that monumental change? Senior Lecturer Mark Kramer discusses how CEO Francesco Starace’s vision of sustainability drove innovation and fostered a completely new enterprise around developing and promoting renewable energy.

Since brewing is a marketing-driven business, finding ways to differentiate a beverage from its competition is crucial. Heineken’s chief marketing officer took a novel approach: take the complicated processes of production and distribution and make them interesting and important to the consumer. Harvard Business School professor Forest Reinhardt explains his case study, “Heineken: Brewing a Better World” — how a big, sophisticated company used small details, from trucking routes to the color of refrigerators, to put its commitment to the environment to work on its behalf.

Can big companies fix big problems? Are they responsible for doing so? As the third-largest employer in the world, any move Walmart makes reverberates around the globe. Yet despite its many successes and innovations, particularly in terms of sustainability, the company often faces criticism for its business practices. Harvard Business School professor Rebecca Henderson discusses what she calls the paradigmatic case: how Walmart takes huge risks, makes great strides, and demonstrates how companies are one of the few instruments humanity has for changing the world at scale, for better or for worse. Henderson is the author of the case study, “Greening Wal-Mart: Progress and Controversy.”

Skydeck is the HBS alumni podcast series that features interviews with HBS alumni from across the world of business, sharing lessons learned and their own life experiences.

Jules Kortenhorst (MBA 1986) is CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a leading think tank focused on sustainability and energy use. It has become a go-to source of analysis from the transformation from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Bulletin editor Dan Morrell spoke with Kortenhorst about his career path and how the world can make renewables a reality.

In 2002, Wally Eamer (MBA 1979) took a job that no one really wanted: Trying to broker peace between logging companies, environmentalists, First Nations and the government of British Columbia. These groups had been in conflict over the future of BC’s forests for decades and had grown bitter, and there was little hope of resolution. But within four years, Wally and his fellow negotiators hashed out a tentative way forward, and—a decade later—the agreement was finalized and then celebrated by everyone involved. By the end, the goals had become so universal, negotiators actually switched sides, moving from one stakeholder to another. In Wally’s case, he began the negotiations working for the government, and—by the end—he was working for First Nations. Bulletin editor and Skydeck host Dan Morrell talked to Wally about his approach to these unique negotiations, why they were so successful in the face of such great odds, and what the experience taught him.


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