Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Rain, Rain, Go Away?

So far this month, it has rained 22 of the 27 days. The most common question I’ve been asked the past few weeks is, “how is the rain impacting the construction schedule?”

Throughout the winter, we were blessed with terrific construction weather. We had an incredibly large number of warm, snow-free days. It helped us reach a point where we can plan for construction being completed in December of this year.

Ken Snyder
The truth is, rain doesn’t really impact the construction schedule at this point. The building is mostly sealed in. The places that aren’t sealed in are OK – mainly the middle section on the curve of the boomerang – the rain doesn’t slow down or stop construction. The roofers can install roofing, the welders can weld, and so on. And the rain doesn’t do any damage. About the only problem with rain is that sometimes it is necessary for one of the construction workers to go out and squeegee off the rainwater.

A few days ago, it was raining (surprise!). As I do many days, I walked-through the building, I counted over 130 workers in the building. One was doing the squeegee work. All of the others were engaged in working on the building.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

3 Insights about London Business Culture from Spring Break 2015

International Business Insights Flowed
From Eight Meetings in London

14 Huntsman Students Learned from a Ten-Day Trip There

A trip to London with 14 business students yielded a number of insights about international business. Led by Senior Lecturer Christine Arrington and Program Director Liz Allred, the group took a one-credit course Bus. 2000, Foundations of International Business.
First, it was astounding the degree to which businesspeople in London have embraced design thinking and the lean startup process. The students spent half a day at True Start, part of Google’s innovation campus in east London, where they presented business startup ideas they had prepared and then were guided through the lean startup process. The setting was an open-space office, with no cubicles, and with large tables, white boards, and lots of sticky notes everywhere--exactly like such spaces in Silicon Valley.   
Later, the group spent half a day at a somewhat similar venue, the Barclays Bank London Escalator, in which Barclay’s funds hundreds of startup projects in return for a share of equity in any businesses that successfully get launched from there. 
A third visit, to Government Digital Services, showcased another lean startup, in which all relevant government services information for consumers is posted on www.Gov.UK. The site was created through rapid prototyping and constant iteration. A comparison with online government services information in the U.S. confirmed for the students that Americans don't have anything nearly as efficient for accessing information as do citizens in the United Kingdom.
A second insight came from a case study of the incredibly intense level of analysis required to place a giant bet on a commodity price. At Apollo Global Management, the students learned about that private equity firm’s massive bet that oil prices would fall significantly. An executive there, Rob Ruberton, described the analysis process, the quantitative requirements, and the political components. He pointed out that the entire bet was hedged, and he explained how that was done. Then he offered that the final political factor in favor of the bet was the level of antagonism that Iraqis feel for Iran and that Middle East oil operators feel for U.S. frackers; those big suppliers were judged not likely to lower their pumping in order to slow dropping oil prices. Rather, they would let the price fall and enjoy watching it drive some competitors out of the business.
            The third insight, about business culture in London, came from meeting with a digital analyst at the Financial Times. McKinley Hyden grew up in the U.S., attended St. Andrew's University, and then the London School of Economics. She explained how differently the business culture operates in London than in the U.S. The usual U.S. approach for a young, smart employee is to be a somewhat brash, outspoken underling, full of ideas and always eager to share them; that approach doesn't work well in London, she explained. More decorum and respect for authority is expected in all exchanges between employees and their supervisors.

            Additional visits were insightful, as well--at Deloitte, Goldman-Sachs, and Kantar Media. 

            Finally, the students visited Cambridge University, where they were hosted by two students there, Zach and Joe Levin; they are sons of Christine's Stanford classmate David Levin, new CEO of the $2 billion revenue McGraw-Hill Education in New York. Zach and Joe showed the group around the whole campus and shared the lore. They even pointed out the college that Isaac Newton attended, and the tree which legend has it was the one under which the famous apple fell on his head, stimulating his "gravity" aha moment.  

Monday, May 11, 2015

What is a Stringer?

The dictionary[1] defines a “stringer” as one of the following:

  1. A person or thing that strings. 
  2. A long horizontal timber connecting upright posts.
  3. Architecture. A long horizontal beam that is used for structural purposes.
  4. Architecture. Another name for stringboard.
  5. Civil Engineering. A longitudinal bridge girder for supporting part of a deck or railroad track between bents or piers.
  6. A longitudinal reinforcement in the fuselage or wing of an airplane.
  7. Also called string correspondent. Journalism. A part-time newspaper correspondent covering a local area for a paper published elsewhere.
  8. A stout string, rope, etc., strung through the gills and mouth of newly caught fish, so that they may be carried or put back in the water to keep them alive or fresh.
Ken Snyder

I learned something new a few weeks ago. There is another definition of stringer that is not included in the dictionary. It is related to the architectural and civil engineering definitions, but still different. Stringer also refers to the supports for stairs in a staircase that is “strung” between two different vertical supports.

I learned this because last week, we started installing the stringers for our grand staircase. See the attached picture. After installing the stringers, the contractor will then install the steps on the top of the stringers.

Thought you’d like to know…