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The So What from BCG

This Boston Consulting Group podcast series looks around the corner of today’s big business and social issues. The goal—the so what—is to make sense of today and prepare busy leaders and executives for the day after tomorrow.

Award-winning British journalist Georgie Frost interviews the leading thinkers and doers at BCG on the trends, developments, and ideas that will shape and disrupt the future. Topics range from global warming, COVID-19, business resilience, and social inequity to the influence of digital technology on everything. This is not your typical business strategy podcast.


Season One

Episode 19: What to Teach the World of the Future

While the world races ahead into the metaverse, education remains rooted in the era of neat orderly rows of desks and lesson plans. In this wide-ranging conversation, Leila Hoteit, the managing director and senior partner who leads BCG’s education, employment, and welfare work, argues for a lifelong approach to learning inside and outside the classroom—one that teaches people to solve hard problems and develop soft skills. She talks about why students should think about the fairytale “Little Red Riding Hood” from the perspective of the wolf, how the technology that treats autism can help others learn better, and why people from different cultures may come up with different answers to the famous trolley problem.

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Episode 18: We Need More Tim Cooks in the C-suite

Over the past two years, the world has seen what happens when supply and procurement chains seize up and shortages in such staples as infant formula and sunflower oil become commonplace. Daniel Weise, leader of BCG’s global procurement business, explains how companies can move beyond a cost-cutting mentality to treat their supply chain as a strategic imperative—the way that Apple did when it promoted Tim Cook, an operations and supply chain executive, to CEO. Unfortunately, most CEOs spend only minutes a day on their supply chain and procurement issues, and these topics are far too important to be relegated to corporate Siberia, Weise is a coauthor of Profit from the Source, published by Harvard Business Review Press.

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Episode 17: Why Being Out at Work Matters

A Pride@BCG leader talks about how a supportive culture unlocks creativity. For Dakota Santana-Grace, being out at work is a professional necessity as much as a personal choice. When Santana-Grace once hid his queer identity from a client, he was stressed and exhausted, and his work suffered. The weight of his secret lifted after Santana-Grace, BCG’s Northeast lead for Pride@BCG, casually mentioned his boyfriend. Santana-Grace also talks about the time a straight ally called him out for deepening his voice in meetings--and why he invited a drag queen to the Boston office.

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Episode 16: How Can My Shopping Save The Planet?

Corporate leaders often view sustainable products as a series of technical challenges—how to decarbonize the supply chain, reduce waste in manufacturing, eliminate plastic packaging, and so on. But what about the human dimensions? Shalini Unnikrishnan, a leader on social impact at BCG, discusses the importance of designing, marketing, and pricing products through the lens of the consumer. She also discussed the need to create ecosystems of like-minded companies and institutions and to connect sustainability to a company’s core purpose.

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Episode 15: Rewriting the Unwritten Rules at Work

Nan DasGupta played soccer in her youth and worked as an engineer at GE early in her career, so she has firsthand experience in pushing into male-dominated fields. DasGupta, a BCG people and organization expert and Women@BCG leader, talks about the difficulties in breaking down bias at work, how bias prevents men from assuming more caregiving responsibilities, the importance of role models, and why nobody wants to talk about menopause.

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Episode 14: Rich Lesser on Climate, Hard Truths, and Hope

Climate change is precipitating the largest industrial transformation since World War II, perhaps ever. BCG’s global chair, Rich Lesser, explains what it means for CEOs and business leaders.

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Episode 13: When a Paycheck Is Not Enough

Pay, promotion, and benefits have been the traditional carrots for hiring, exciting, and retaining employees. But feeling safe, challenged, and valued at work can be even more important than a paycheck, says Gabi Novacek, a BCG Henderson Institute fellow researching diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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Episode 12: To Uncertainty and Beyond in the Travel Industry

In the face of lagging and highly volatile demand, how can airlines, hotel chains, and cruise lines prepare for the future? Jason Guggenheim, BCG’s global leader of travel and tourism, talks analytics, adjacent business opportunities, and sustainability challenges.

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Episode 11: Why Tech Needs Women to Change the World

Neveen Awad is the leader of BCG’s Detroit office and an expert in gender diversity in technology. She talks about her own tech journey, the insights women can bring to tech, how paternity leave can be for a boon for women in leadership—and more.

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Episode 10: Imagine If Companies Were Better at Imagination

Creativity is too important to be left in the sandbox. It belongs in the boardroom. Martin Reeves, chairman of the BCG Henderson Institute, explains how to bring it there.

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Episode 9: Are You Bridging or Broadening the Racial Wealth Gap?

To create inclusive workforces and inclusive products, companies must treat inclusion as a a business innovation, explains Kedra Newsom Reeves, colead of BCG’s North America Center for Inclusion and Equity. Bridging the racial wealth gap requires committed resources and responsibilities.

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Episode 8: Your Brain Is Being Strip-Mined

Cell phones, social media, messaging software, and multitasking are robbing our attention, as our monkey minds jump from one notification to another. Mickey McManus, a BCG senior advisor and leadership coach, explains how these distractions strip our cognitive capacity and even our ability to make ethical decisions. Is this the price of “progress,” or is there something to be done? McManus offers tips for everyone from the board and C-suite to the front line to enable companies and employees to regain control of our cognition.

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Episode 7: Watch Your Language

Ashley Grice finds great joy, meaning, and sometimes peril in words. As the CEO of BCG BrightHouse, Grice helps organizations find their purpose. Words are her instruments of trade. They can help bring strategy to life and inspire imagination and wonder. But by choosing words that are impersonal, flat, and cold, CEOs and other leaders frequently miss the chance to connect with their people. Grice explains how leaders can use language more effectively and what to do when their words are misunderstood. She also reads two poems—her own.

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Episode 6: Can We Fix Supply Chains in 2022?

As the pandemic rumbles on, many countries have been suffering shortages and panic buying as global supply chains wobble. Much of that will likely ease over the coming months, but systemic challenges remain. In this episode, Dustin Burke, one of BCG’s leaders in manufacturing and supply chains, urges companies to use the experience of the last 18 months to build resilience and reliability into their operations without adding cost and redundancy. How do companies achieve better access to real-time data for greater visibility into potential shortages and risks? Could we see greater cooperation within—and even across—industries to protect supply chains of essential components? And looking to the long term, how can we expect automation and artificial intelligence to help ease labor shortages?

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Episode 5: Why the Way We Work is Broken

The pandemic has exposed fissures in the way we work, which is stuck in the industrial age. Deborah Lovich, who leads BCG’s people strategy topic, and Brian Elliott, executive leader and senior vice president of Future Forum, talk about why leaders want to return to the office and many workers don’t, why water coolers are not the source of inspiration, and how organizations can start to recalibrate their outdated approach to leadership, work, culture, and purpose.

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Episode 4: A Culture of Experimentation

How can organizations become more experimental? Julia Dhar, the cofounder and leader of BeSmart, BCG’s behavioral economics and insights initiative, says identify a big problem, start small, and do not overly worry that academics may criticize your experiment. As a bonus, Dhar provides her three favorite nudges for everyday living.

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Episode 3: Across the Luxury Metaverse

Lil Miquela, a 19-year-old TikTok influencer with more than 3 million followers, has promoted Calvin Klein, Prada, and other top fashion brands. She also happens to be an avatar, an online robot created by a startup with venture funding. Sarah Willersdorf, BCG’s global head of luxury, explores the somewhat wacky but very real intersection of fashion and the metaverse, explaining what the virtual world holds in store for consumers and brands.

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Episode 2: Net Zero Will Pay for Itself

Most transitions are hard—the transition to net zero is especially so. But with political will, new business models, and major investments, saving the planet does not have to break the bank. In fact, Jens Burchardt, BCG’s global expert on climate impact and cofounder of the firm’s Center for Climate and Sustainability, argues that companies and countries that aggressively address climate issues will grow more swiftly than their slower counterparts. Many consumers, he says, would gladly pay 2% extra for net-zero products and services, a modest premium that would allow many companies today to go green.

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Episode 1: Uncertainty Advantage

Uncertainty is not a dirty word. While it may be impossible to predict the future, preparing for it is possible. Alan Iny, BCG’s partner and director of creativity and scenarios, explains that scenario planning and other exercises leave us better able to harness the future, whatever shape it takes. Iny acknowledges that this is hard work. Albert Einstein once doubted that atomic energy could be harnessed. But doubt itself is key to breaking free of stale business models and unlocking creativity.

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Trailer: Getting Down to Business

“The So What from BCG,” a new podcast series, gets straight to the point of ideas that will shape and disrupt the future. Award-winning British journalist Georgie Frost interviews the leading thinkers and doers at BCG on topics ranging from global warming, COVID-19, business resilience, and social inequity to the influence of digital technology on everything. Look for a new episode every two weeks, starting November 3.

Listen on Apple Podcasts | Listen on Spotify 

 

Meet Our Host

Georgie Frost is an award-winning freelance finance broadcaster and journalist. She began her career as a sports journalist at the Guardian Media Group before hosting sports shows on BBC Radio. In 2014, she created a daily finance-based talk radio show on Share Radio, winning honors as the financial broadcaster of the year and as one of the top five best new presenters in the UK at the APA Awards. She has written for the Financial Times, the Sunday Times, and the Daily Mail and appeared as a sports and financial commentator in national newspapers as well as on ITV, Sky Sports Mix, and BBC One. She has written and hosted the Daily Mail’s “This is Money” podcast for the past five years.

Follow Georgie on Twitter

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The So What from BCG

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