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Before entrepreneurial culture became a thing

first_imgAs the former managing director of a store with three locations, Harvard College junior Jenny Leight can easily list things she’s learned about running a multimillion-dollar business.Among them: Make sure the hooks on clothes hangers are faced to look like question marks, because that’s the “correct” direction, and it makes it easier for customers to take them off the rack. Others? Put your best or newest merchandise in areas where customers tend to stop first or most often.  Don’t be afraid to put up flashy “instagrammable” window displays to draw passersby. Make your staffers feel appreciated, supported, and accountable if you want to motivate them to meet store goals.Perhaps most importantly, however, Leight can tell you this: From the small details to big-picture strategy, starting and running a business is something that can be learned.“I now feel I have the skills to look at a business, especially in retail, and figure out: Who are their customers? Are they targeting the right customer? How are they targeting their customers? Are their products set at the right price? And can they do anything to [improve] their customer experience?” said Leight, who for the past two years oversaw one of Harvard Square’s most recognizable retail businesses, The Harvard Shop.In short, she said, it was an experience that gave her the kind of hands-on business experience she’s wanted since starting at Harvard. It was made possible by the Harvard Student Agencies, a student organization that for the past 60 years has given more than 5,000 students similar types of business, professional, and entrepreneurial exposure.HSA calls itself as the largest student-run company in the world, but it is probably more accurately described as a conglomerate that also has incubated startups. The registered 501c(3) nonprofit employs almost 700 students (making it the second-largest employer on campus besides the University) and currently is made up of 12 “agencies” — although it has attempted more than 70  — that run across a number of industries.,Ventures include well-known fixtures like HSA Cleaners and Dorm Essentials, which have been providing laundry, dry cleaning, and micro-fridges to the campus community since the organization’s earliest days, and spots like The Harvard Shop, which sells University-branded merchandise both in-store and online. Other outlets, which have been added over the years, include services like publishing, bartending, delivery, tutoring, advertising, market research, and web development.The agencies are all run as individual businesses, with HSA’s corporate office acting as an umbrella. They employ students year-round, sometimes on a full-time basis, and each has its own team of managers and employees who are responsible for all operational and strategic aspects, including budgeting, invoicing, stocking shelves, writing content or code, hiring and managing staff, and setting revenue goals. For many students it’s where they first learn to craft professional emails, collaborate with others, and problem-solve in a work environment.“You have complete ownership over your role, whether you’re at the senior management level or you’re a marketing manager,” said Leight, a psychology and economics concentrator who joined HSA as a first-year and found that she enjoyed negotiating with vendors, behind-the-scenes logistics, and the strategy that goes into keeping it afloat and driving it forward. “It’s a lot of big-picture-type thinking,” she said. It’s all about “working with the team to identify problems or areas that could use improvement and then brainstorming solutions and implementing them.”Altogether, HSA’s subsidiaries bring in more than $7 million in annual revenue and pay out more than $1 million in student wages. Its corporate office at Burke-McCoy Hall, like the rest of the organization, is also primarily student-run, with a handful of professional staff. HSA is guided by a 26-person board of directors, who include alumni, University administrators, and students like Leight.The non-student professionals and administrators mainly serve as advisers and mentors and keep institutional knowledge intact, said HSA chief executive and general manager Jim McKellar. “I’d rather them make mistakes here, where they have a soft landing and a good support system, than make that same mistake at Goldman Sachs or when they are starting their own business.” — Jim McKellar, HSA chief executive “We say it’s a student-run company, and it really is,” McKellar said. “The students make the decisions, but the five of us [and board administrators] are here to teach the students. We teach them everything from reading a balance sheet to running a meeting. We’re here as a support system.”This teaching and coaching structure plays well into HSA’s primary goal of giving members real-world experience that can help them in future careers, and is part of what makes HSA so fun and challenging for students. “It’s an intense place to work because students have full ownership,” said James Swingos ’20, HSA’s outgoing president. He has held the post since last February, and before that had helped it acquire one of its most recent ventures, a market-research business called Campus Insights.Being entrepreneurial is key to the HSA experience. In fact, the organization is always searching for ways to expand current businesses by adding new services to them, or to start or acquire new ones. These often come as a result of market research on what businesses or services are needed and the kinds of experience students want.The past few years, for instance, HSA has added agencies in the technology sector after market research showed there was a need for these types of services in the community and that undergraduates wanted experience in the field. Among the agencies added were Campus Insights, which was purchased in 2018 from two college students at Boston College and the University of Michigan, and HSA DEV, a web and app development company, which it started in 2017.To get each firm launched or acquired, students crafted business plans, forecasted budgets, and presented their work to the HSA board of directors for approval.“The board evaluates the student opportunities — how many students will this new business support, what kind of experience will they be receiving, [and] what kind of personal and professional growth opportunities exist for them,” McKellar said. Companies then have a year or two to become profitable, he added.Both HSA DEV and Campus Insights have made steady progress. DEV is now finishing its third full year, is budgeted to break even, and continues to grow, while Campus Insights made a profit its first year and broke even the next.“The skill set [for taking on new businesses] is really different,” said Swingos, who had to integrate Campus Insights into HSA and build his team from the ground up. “You have to think about operational buildout … customer development … marketing. You have to think from the bottom up, ‘What is the purpose of my product, why is it valuable?’ You’re the first person to think of why this is important to customers.”Students join HSA for a variety of reasons. Some want to get managerial experience. Some want professional work experience as web designers at HSA’s development and design firm, tutors at its academic tutoring firm, or even as writers and editors at its Let’s Go travel publications. Not to be forgotten are students who just want to earn some extra spending money working as a cashier or mailbox stuffer.Whatever the reason, HSA helps students get where they want to get professionally, or helps them discover where that is, Swingos said. Sometimes both. Take Akanksha Sah ’21, who at first was in it for the cash but is now the incoming president.Sah took a post her first year as a business development manager at Campus Insights, a user research firm focused on Gen Zs and millennials. At the time she planned to stay in the role just for the school year to help her mother pay rent, and then take an internship at a law firm during the summer to stay on a more traditional prelaw track. But after her decisions led to tangible changes and the ability to steer the course of business, she determined she wouldn’t get this type of experience anywhere as an intern, so she decided to stay on for the summer and then fully committed to it for the rest of her undergraduate career.“HSA gives you skills that you can definitely apply in any situation,” said Sah. “So even if I wasn’t doing a traditional prelaw internship, it’s not like I wasn’t gaining skills that would help in law school.” “It’s an intense place to work because students have full ownership.” — James Swingos ’20 In fact, it’s that ability to step almost immediately into high-level positions, make decisions, and even take risks that makes HSA competitive with typical internships. “That value proposition is really about a person who really wants to be highly integrated with something they can really change, that makes real revenue, that does real business, and has real clients,” Swingos said. Also, it “gets freshmen managers and sophomore managers all the time. We take people with no experience, train them, put them in those positions, and help them grow and make sure it’s safe.”Training usually takes place over a semester and is done by whoever is in the role at the time. Swingos, for instance, spent the fall semester training Sah. Leight spent that time training her own successor, while first-year Raymond Qin spent the semester training to become the operations manager for Cleaners and Dorm Essentials.Because of HSA’s focus on learning, the organization never loses sight of the fact that its students will inevitably make mistakes. In fact, McKellar says he welcomes it.“I’d rather them make mistakes here, where they have a soft landing and a good support system, than make that same mistake at Goldman Sachs or when they are starting their own business,” he said. “It’s a good teaching and learning environment.”While most mistakes are on the smaller side, like forgetting to pay an invoice or botching a meeting, some can be costly. One of the biggest was brought to light in February 2018, when the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office found that HSA had violated state labor laws and owed employees more than $46,000 in unpaid wages. The issue came from The Harvard Shop, which had not been paying its employees time and a half on Sundays or for overtime.“When we learned of our mistake, we [the students and full-time staff ] voluntarily corrected the issue immediately to the satisfaction of the Massachusetts Attorney General and worked with our legal counsel to enact new employee policies to ensure that we were in compliance with the law,” McKellar said. “It was a terrific, and real-world, learning experience for the students. They realized that HSA is not just a student organization. It’s a group of real businesses, and we need to follow all of the state and federal laws.”Founded in 1957, HSA started after University officials discovered students running small-scale businesses out of their dorm rooms, which put Harvard’s real estate tax exemption at risk. To keep both the jobs these businesses had created and the University’s tax exemption, Jon Monro ’35, dean of financial aid at the time, and Dustin M. Burke ’52, then-director of student employment, incorporated the businesses under the umbrella Harvard Student Agencies and made it a student organization.Over the years, HSA has attempted more than 70 agencies, posted more than $146 million in revenue, paid more than $50 million in student wages, and gained more than 4,000 alumni — a number of whom have gone on to notable success.For example, Darren Aronofsky ’91, an Oscar-nominated director and screenwriter best known for “Black Swan” and “Requiem for a Dream,” was a writer at Let’s Go. Deval Patrick ’78, J.D. ’82, former Massachusetts governor and 2020 presidential candidate, used to work at the bartending service and was a member of the student board. And Ken Powell ’76, former chairman of General Mills, and Andrea Silbert ’86, M.B.A./M.P.A ’92, president of the EOS Foundation, are both former HSA presidents.As its alumni network has grown, more recent alumni have formed an HSA alumni graduate board, which helps them keep in touch with what’s happening at HSA and mentor and connect current students with externships.For Swingos, who will become part of that network in May, it all shows the impact HSA has had on students and will continue to have on its next batch of managers.“At the end of the day, it’s about creating as many undergraduate campus jobs as possible” and having those roles provide students with skills like teamwork, leadership, and accountability, Swingos said.last_img read more


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Bioenergy booming

first_imgBioenergy scientists, policymakers, industry leaders and enthusiasts met in Tifton, Ga., Aug. 3-5 to discuss how Georgia and surrounding states could soon establish and grow a vibrant renewable energy market to help the world find alternative ways to power itself.High gas prices spur forward thinkingThe three-day 2010 Southeast Bioenergy Conference was held at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center. Keynote speaker Christopher Steiner told more than 500 participants that costly gas isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It could be the catalyst to spark a sincere, long-term U.S. energy strategy to break its addiction to foreign oil.Right now, there are 1 billion people living “America-style” lives, or lives demanding high energy needs, he said. By 2040, that number will be 3 billion. “That’s three times as many people demanding the kind of energy, the kind of stuff, the kind of lives we have and standing with us at the world’s energy spigot,” said Steiner, a Forbes staff writer and author of the recently published “$20 per gallon.”$6 per gallon gasoline?Higher gas prices will hopefully come gradually, he said, to allow U.S. gas consumers to adapt or change transportation habits. Several years ago when prices hit $2 per gallon, not much changed; and $3-per-gallon gas a few years later did little to change consumption. But in 2008, when prices topped $4 per gallon, things changed. That year, Americans drove 100 billion fewer miles than in 2007. “It’s very clear to me that the changes gas price bring to us is as much a study in sociology as they are in economics,” said Steiner, who predicts gas prices could reach $6 per gallon in the next five years.Some oil used by Americans comes from anti-American countries The U.S. uses 25 percent of the world’s oil supply, importing 60 percent from unstable countries or ones that publicly speak against American policies or actions, said U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.).“Our scramble for alternative fuels is as much a matter of national security as it is anything about economics or the environment,” he said. “And I believe that innovation, conservation and exploration, just like you do, have to be part of it.”Governor says Georgia prime spot for bioenergy cropsThe state’s “sun, soil and water” provide for fertile grounds for mass bioenergy production, Gov. Sonny Perdue said during the conference luncheon. He added that major energy companies in the U.S. and around the world are now looking to do potential business in the state.“The good news is we’re in a good spot. We have everything it takes: natural resources, intellectual capital and an entrepreneurial spirit,” he said. “…We have watched the birthing and nurturing and potty training of a whole new industry in Georgia.”Lectures and breakout sessions at the conference included “Your Next Job Could be in Clean Energy Technology,” “Wood Pellets – The Southeast’s Hottest Export,” “Promising Energy Crops for the Southeast,” “New Developments in Bioenergy Products & Processes” and “Ag Energy in Action – Success Stories from the Southeast.”More information on the conference can be found at www.sebioenergy.org.last_img read more


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Execution to euthanasia: Liberal worm turns

first_imgNZ Herald 5 January 2018Family First Comment: Superb commentary from Dr Paul Moon… “One of the arguments in the 20th century that convinced many people of the error of executions was that occasionally, mistakes were made in judging someone guilty, and when it came to the death penalty, one mistake was one mistake too many. Recent overseas examples of people suffering from mental illness who have sought a termination of their lives (and been granted their wish by the medical profession), only to have a last-minute change of heart, shows that the risk of error when it comes to euthanasia is very real. Do we still hold to the view that one mistake is one too many? New Zealand finally dispensed with the death penalty because when knee-jerk emotional instincts were set aside, the moral, social, and ethical arguments against legal killings proved overwhelming. It will be a test to see if the country retains that perspective as the advocates of euthanasia push for what would amount to a reversal of this enlightened trajectory.”www.protect.org.nz – Make a submission today! Dr Paul Moon is Professor of History at Auckland University of Technology.Even as the noose was being placed around Walter Boulton’s neck on February 18, 1957, New Zealanders were growing increasingly uncomfortable with the notion of capital punishment. It was a sentiment no doubt strengthened by reports that instead of Boulton’s neck snapping immediately, he was left in agony while the rope slowly strangled him to death. In 1961, on the back of growing public opinion which saw the state sanction of killing as unenlightened, Parliament abolished the death penalty (except for the crime of treason, for which the option of execution remained until 1989, when this exemption was also removed).It is useful to reflect on the progress of death penalty abolitionists in New Zealand in the 20th century, and while it might be simplistic to transpose all their arguments to the current euthanasia debate, there are some significant themes that apply in both areas. During a 1941 parliamentary debate on the death penalty, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Rex Mason, described the state’s right to administer the death penalty as uncivilised and “backward”. Four years later, another Labour MP emphasised New Zealand’s reputation as a “progressive country” when arguing against capital punishment.As concerns over the morality of the state killing certain categories of its citizens mounted, abolitionists pointed out that the death penalty had detrimental psychological effects on those administering it. The testimony of some of those present at these killings highlighted the cold-bloodedness of the process, and the effects it left on them for life. One prison psychologist wrote of the feeling of “complete revulsion” at witnessing someone having their life terminated, despite the fact that the law had warranted it. Every execution needed an executioner, and those who took on that role also became victims in a way.Death penalty proponents, on the other hand, responded by suggesting that a life spent in prison could be worse than the death penalty, and that while people might oppose the state killing the worst of its criminals, it was sometimes a “practical” undertaking — a means of protecting society from the worst of its underbelly. However, by the 1950s, such “rational” arguments were increasingly crashing into the reality of society ending the lives of some of its members. The fact that prohibitions on public executions had long been in force was the giveaway clue that while the principle might have made sense, the practice of legally approved killings remained as abhorrent as ever.How the liberal worm has turned since. The same arguments used by progressives for the abolition of the death penalty in the 20th century have been misappropriated by those advocating for a new age of state-sanctioned killing — this time wrapped up in the euphemism of euthanasia, or the even more morbidly saccharine and utterly misleading “death with dignity”. In cases of euthanasia, it may be a doctor rather than a hangman carrying out the killing, but there is no reason to think the psychological effects on those involved in euthanasia will be any less severe, or that the fragile value we place on human life will not again be degraded. And the principle of the state giving permission for lives to be terminated on the basis of their being “worthy” and “unworthy” applies to both areas. The distinction is only that in capitalpunishment cases, death was the consequence of the state deeming that the life of a person (usually a murderer) was not worth continuing, while in euthanasia, it is the state backing the individual’s determination that their own life no longer has worth for physical or psychological reasons.One of the arguments in the 20th century that convinced many people of the error of executions was that occasionally, mistakes were made in judging someone guilty, and when it came to the death penalty, one mistake was one mistake too many. Recent overseas examples of people suffering from mental illness who have sought a termination of their lives (and been granted their wish by the medical profession), only to have a last-minute change of heart, shows that the risk of error when it comes to euthanasia is very real. Do we still hold to the view that one mistake is one too many? New Zealand finally dispensed with the death penalty because when knee-jerk emotional instincts were set aside, the moral, social, and ethical arguments against legal killings proved overwhelming. It will be a test to see if the country retains that perspective as the advocates of euthanasia push for what would amount to a reversal of this enlightened trajectory.last_img read more


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Todd McNair granted new trial in case against NCAA

first_imgLast May, a jury sided with the NCAA, stating that the allegations brought against McNair were not defamatory. However, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Frederick Shaller wrote in a ruling Wednesday morning that the jury’s decision was not supported by sufficient evidence, specifically citing an incorrect answer in a special jury verdict question meant to draw a certain answer. Moreover, the presiding juror, Anthony Bruno, should not have been allowed to serve due to an implicit bias, Shaller said. Bruno is a member of the Latham & Watkins law firm, which was a part of the NCAA’s legal team on the McNair case. However, Bruno had no relation to or role in the case and worked at a different branch of the firm from those involved. A week ago, McNair agreed to become the running backs coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. McNair has not coached at the collegiate or professional level since leaving USC in 2009. “Permitting Juror No. 2 to remain on the jury and participate in deliberations … resulted a miscarriage of justice and in [the] Plaintiff being deprived of a fair trial,” Shaller said. center_img Former USC assistant football coach Todd McNair was granted a motion for a new trial in his defamation lawsuit against the NCAA Wednesday. The suit has been ongoing since 2011, after the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions brought allegations in 2010 stating that McNair was involved in the Reggie Bush scandal. The NCAA found that Bush, a former USC running back, had received impermissible benefits while at USC, and he had to forfeit his Heisman trophy while the program vacated the 14 wins and national title from the 2004 season. “In the court’s judgment, no reasonable trier of fact could have made the determination that the answer to Special Verdict Question 3 should be ‘NO,’” Shaller said in the ruling.last_img read more


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Kwesé Free Sports to Host Live Screenings of Joshua Vs Takam…

first_imgNigerian audiences can join the estimated 80, 000 spectators expected at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium for two live screenings of the fight in Nigeria. Simulcast viewings will be held in Joshua’s ancestral hometown of Sagamu at the Baba Josh Memorial Hall, as well as at the Hard Rock Café in Lagos.The live screenings, which coincide with the Sagamu Day celebrations, are endorsed by the Sagamu Youth Congress and will have members of the Joshua clan in attendance.The main bout is scheduled to start at 10.30pm however, doors at the Sagamu and Lagos viewing centres will open from 6pm to give boxing fans the opportunity to watch all the undercard fights. Spectators at the viewing centres will also be kept entertained by musical performances and stand-up comedy from local artists in the build up to the fight.“We pride ourselves on broadcasting nothing but the best in international and African sporting action. We will once again provide exclusive broadcast of yet another epic Joshua showdown on our platform, as well as live screenings of the fight where we will see one of our own hopefully retain his unbeaten track record,” expressed General Manager Kwesé Free Sports Nigeria, ChiChi Nwoko.“As the only pan-African and local sports channel in Nigeria with exclusive rights to the fight, Kwesé Free Sports will broadcast the fight on UHF 32 in Lagos or channel 732 on Free TV decoders in Jos and Abuja,” added Nwoko.Boxing fans can also visit their nearest Kwesé branded store(s) to purchase a decoder and dish for N10,960 (inclusive of one month free subscription) to catch the fight on Kwesé Sports 1, channel 300 on Kwesé TV bouquet.This is Joshua’s return to the ring after his memorable win against Wladimir Klitschko in April this year. Following this impressive win, Joshua will enter the ring with 19 knockout victories under his belt and the confidence to match.Takam is a new match up, following Kubrat Pulev’s unexpected withdrawal, both fighters are ready to put it all on the line for bragging rights and three heavyweight titles. Both opponents trace their roots to African soil, and will generate a lot of conversation among youths on the continent.Kwesé has made the fight available to sports fans across the continent on multiple platforms; including free-to-air TV, satellite (pay) TV and mobile phones through the Kwese App. The broadcaster has also made provision for fans who prefer digital viewing and will broadcast the fight live on the Kwesé ESPN Facebook page – www.facebook.com/kwesesports.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram As the exclusive African broadcaster for all Anthony Joshua fights, Kwesé will broadcast his fight against Takam live on the continent’s largest pan-African free-to-air channel Kwesé Free Sports.This means sports fans across the continent have free access to enjoy this explosive fight wherever they are. Kwesé Free Sports Africa’s largest sports channel will provide full ring side access as Nigeria’s son Joshua defends his world heavyweight titles against Takam.last_img read more