Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Business, Conscience, Service

Businessman and philanthropist Bob Gay visited the Huntsman School on November 13, and delivered an incredible talk about business, conscience, and service.

Although Mr. Gay didn’t care for business growing up, his father, a very successful businessman, convinced him to enroll in Harvard Business School’s PhD program in economics. From there his career moved from McKinsey & Company, to Bain Capital, where he was managing director for 16 years, and then co-founder and CEO of Huntsman Gay Global Capital.

But the greatest lesson he learned came during volunteer service for his church, where he served as the mission president in Ghana for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On a treacherous trip to Sierra Leone, one of the many obstacles that faced the crew was a road “with potholes the size of caves.” Due to a random UN cell tower along the route, he received a phone call from his former business partner from Bain Capital, who was calling to tell him that Bain had just closed a very large business deal, primarily due to the effort Mr. Gay had built for Bain before leaving for volunteer service.

“I had been the largest shareholder in Bain Capital, although I had turned it all in when I left on our mission. Once I knew the size of the fund, … and not in a second, but in nanoseconds, I knew what my partnership was, and I knew approximately what that fund would return. And all of a sudden I knew what it had cost me to serve as a mission president in Ghana,” Mr. Gay said.

“It was massive, massive amounts of money that would make anybody blush,” he continued.

As “what if” thoughts crossed his mind, he fell into a “stupor for two hours.”

Then, all of sudden, their tire got caught in a pothole and flipped their vehicle. The truck slid, going 65 miles an hour, on a gravel road. When the crew came to, the villagers were singing the death wailing cry. As the crew explained that no one was dead, the villagers said to Mr. Gay, “You’re dying.”

As he looked down, he saw that his body was covered in blood and that there was huge wound in his arm. In the middle of nowhere, they wrapped the wound as best they could and waited for the next car to come by.

When they arrived at the medical clinic, the doctor said he would lose the arm, but that he could kill the infection. As Mr. Gay laid down in the small operating room, the doctor saw his name tag and asked if he was a member of the LDS Church. When he answered yes, the doctor said that the gowns he was wearing, the instruments he was using and the drugs he was administering, were all new. The only reason their hospital had these supplies was because some elderly couple from the LDS Church came and donated everything just under a year ago.

“And in that instant, I heard the great voice in my life say, ‘Everything you have in life is because somebody else went out and did service,’” Mr. Gay said. “I haven’t looked back since that day.”

His final message to students was this: If you focus on a career, your impact will be limited…and you are likely to get it wrong. If you honor conscience, hone skills, take ownership, and look to serve, you can astonish the world.

Monday, November 24, 2014

HMA Vooray Case Competition: Winners Report

Chris Vaughan

Case competitions like this absorb everything; your thoughts, time, and late night pizza funds all have to go into it. Fortunately I was prepared for the challenge, as this was my fourth case competition. I was ready and excited to make something incredible.

True to my expectation, my team and I dedicated enormous amounts of time and energy to think, research, design, and present, something great.

To any out there who seek to compete in a case competition in the future, it takes a lot to win, but the euphoria of success is enlivening. I think my team would agree that our success was largely determined by the strength of our team itself. We're very different people, whose paths only crossed for this one event, but we worked incredibly well together. Our strengths complement and compensate for our corresponding weaknesses. We listened, shared, and compromised in our efforts.

Our finished product turned out great! It was something we were proud of and excited to share. It had its imperfections, but its strengths nudged it ahead of the rest.

Although winning had its benefits, the most enjoyable part of this experience was working on a case that pertains to my area of interest. No classroom can give one the kind of real life experience that a case competition can. It gave me the opportunity to work for Vooray for a week, and to develop and present real promotional strategies. We worked hard and were stretched to the limit, but together my team and I succeeded. In my eyes this kind of experience is what college is all about.

Chris Vaughn, Hannah Mackintosh (Vooray representative), Shay Pierce, Brady Hanks, Nathan White

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ken Shotts Dean's Convocation

In this presentation, Dr. Ken Shotts discusses how moral psychology might be able to provide some answers as to why corporate scandals happen. He suggests that self-serving biases and situational factors may offer some explanation of corporate wrong-doing. Dr. Shotts points to studies in human psychology and applies them to HealthSouth’s accounting and Libor’s rate-fixing scandals. He also gives some ideas on how social pressures can work for good for individuals and organizations through setting up the right incentives, legitimizing dissent within organizations, and planning in advance what social pressures may exist and how to handle them. Dr. Shotts closes with the following:

“Context around us has a powerful effect. It’s hard to expect that the context is not going to shape me in really foundational ways, therefore, be careful about choosing the path of our lives so that we put ourselves in situations that will help us be the good and virtuous people that we aspire to be rather than the not-so-good and not-so-virtuous people that we maybe are all capable of being.”

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Vooray Case Competition Kickoff

By Derek Saraiva

Vooray was started in 2009 by Todd Nyman in his parent's basement. Todd had a passion for sports and wanted to create clothing that matched the energy of the outdoors.

One of Todd's first brand launches was "SUP", short for Superb Under Pressure. In order to get the brand launched, Todd was faced with the challenge of accumulating the capital needed to establish some sort of storefront. Unfortunately opening retail stores can be very expensive, so Todd chose to start out with a small pure play online storefront instead of a brick-and-mortar shop. He started out online with an amazingly small inventory of only 12 t-shirts.
Todd Nyman presenting to the HMA club

To cut down on marketing costs, but still get the name out there, Todd partnered up with YouTube channels featuring extreme sports such as barefoot skiing. YouTube featured 15-30 second ads that

Todd attributes part of this success to the Vooray demographic, which consists of 12-28-year-old males. Most of them are active and into at least one of the three major outdoor sports: skiing, surfing, and/or skating.

Another key to Vooray's success came from sponsoring athletes involved in extreme yet less-known sports. In the past barefoot skiers had been forgotten as far as sponsorships goes. By partnering with these athletes, Vooray created a win-win situation - the athletes get a sponsor, and Vooray gets a major brand ambassador.

Vooray wants to focus on what Todd calls "The Vooray Project", a social mission launch aimed at the demographic to help facilitate community service. Todd thinks that if done right it could become the next cool new thing.

The case competition objective is to accomplish one of the these three key objectives:
would run prior to the video; this strategy helped spread his brand's message at a relatively low cost.

1. Create uniqueness in a very competitive retail market

2. Gain increased exposure by using low cost methods

3. Generate a creative way to launch the social mission (the Vooray project).

Good Luck to all the competitors!

Monday, November 3, 2014

LEED Revisited

Last week we had a special meeting to review the status of where our new building is with regard to LEED status. I blogged about this once before in my May 28, 2012 blog. At that point, we were still working on the design of the new building, but we had not started construction.

The State of Utah, and USU, expect new buildings to meet certain environment-friendly standards when it comes to design, operations and maintenance. These standards are set by an independent, internationally-recognized organization called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED. This private organization offers a list of specific green building standards and award points to organizations that meet those standards. Depending on how many points are earned, a project could win a silver, gold or platinum medal. The state and the university require our project to qualify for at least a silver medal. About half of the points are based on the design of the building, and about half are based on the method of construction. Since we are now well into construction, it was time to do a formal review of where we stand on LEED points.

I am pleased to report that we are still in good shape to qualify for silver, and we might still qualify for gold.

In some cases, reaching certain levels can increase costs, so we have to be strategic as we decide where to invest our limited resources. As we have said from the beginning, it is unrealistic for us to reach platinum – the cost to reach platinum is beyond our budget. This LEED review gives me some peace of mind. A few weeks ago we faced a decision of pursuing a LEED point, but the additional cost to the building would have been about $130,000. I chose to save the $130,000. However, we are still in good shape despite sacrificing a point.

Ken Snyder