At Harvard: Part 7

We’ve arrived at our final week.  We “graduate” Thursday in a full ceremony with Robert Kaplan as our guest speaker (currently Acting President and Chief Executive Officer of Harvard Management Company and formerly our OPM Leadership professor). One classmate will speak on behalf of the Americans and one on behalf of those from other countries.  Spouses, children and other family members are flying in from all around the world for the event.  The excitement is building, while many are expressing sadness at our imminent parting.

We have studied some interesting cases of late.  Chateau Margaux, the ultimate Bordeaux wine, stimulated great interest in class as we delved into whether or not Corinne Mentzelopoulos, the current thirty-something-year-old owner should consider disrupting a centuries-old distribution and marketing system (established by Napoleon III in 1855) and attempt selling her wine directly, via the internet and other avenues.  In the end, it was clear Corinne didn’t really need our help and is doing very well (considering the rest of the French wine industry).  The antiquated distribution system actually provides value in the chain–bringing cash in before the wine is mature, providing warehousing, and allowing Chateau Margaux to do what they do best, without the distraction of marketing and distribution.

Another European case followed: Real Madrid Futbol Club.  Our marketing professor was delighted when one of our Madrid classmates presented him with a team jersey with his name on it at the beginning of class (I am sure the professor, while pleased, wished he’d gotten a bottle of Margaux in the earlier class!).  He proceeded to wear it for the duration of the session–a heated one at that.  Between the Brazilians, the Chileans, the Mexicans, the Spaniards and a lonely Italian, the debate was feisty.  Soccer is more than a sport in the rest of the world: it is passion, it is life.  All admired the ascendancy of Real Madrid as one of the top revenue-generating “futbol” teams in the world, beating Manchester United for the first time in recent years.

Tune in next time to hear about our angel investing class–fascinating!

Signing off from Baker Hall dorm,

Kate Simpson

Academic Travel Abroad

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