Working Capital Conversations-logo

Working Capital Conversations


Engaging conversations on business, technology and innovation.


United States




Engaging conversations on business, technology and innovation.



Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Julian Francis: Empathetic Leadership in Action

Today – a special edition of our sister podcast "Call In," which explores Inclusive Leaderships – when to call in, and when to call out. Our guest was Julian Francis, President and CEO of Beacon Building Products – the largest publicly traded distributor of roofing materials and complementary building products in the U.S. and Canada. A key component of the way Julian advances business success is through empathetic leadership, connecting a human understanding of each employee to the realities of what it takes to succeed in a competitive business environment. We also discuss the specific, tangible ways that Julian brings his leadership philosophy to life: Discover ways to generate actionable opportunities for members of underrepresented groups, how to help employees balance personal and work needs, and learn about their innovative campaign for putting people first. You can find the Call In podcast, co-hosted with Dr. Alexandria White, at


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Mary Kay Orr: How Nazareth Housing Helps Families Unlock Their Potential

For anyone fortunate to come home to a familiar space, we can forget the compounding difficulty of homelessness. A home represents stability, and in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic, homelessness was made even worse. Mary Kay Orr, the Executive Director of Nazareth Housing, wanted to address the problem of homelessness in New York in a meaningful way. Nazareth Housing is a community-based nonprofit serving vulnerable families and individuals in crisis. For almost 40 years Nazareth has helped families to unlock their potential, build pathways out of poverty, and avoid homelessness — helped them realize, as Orr puts it, "a mosaic of what life can be." Orr came to the organization after 25 years working in financial services on Wall Street. Her work has illuminated the nuance between serving others and helping them, respecting their fundamental dignity and giving individuals the tools to advance their own lives. She has seen that homelessness has multiple root causes and that any gesture of compassion and volunteering contributes to making a meaningful difference.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Rep. Stephanie Murphy: What D.C. and Business Can Learn From Each Other

As global and domestic businesses enter a new and potentially-fraught economic environment, the relationship between the U.S. government and American business – always evolving – will face new challenges: Inflation, fair trade vs. free trade, China, protectionism, labor, supply chains, taxes, and of course, the massive humanitarian devastation and economic dislocation from Russia’s attack on Ukraine.So how can – and should – government and business work together to maximize American competitiveness, navigate these shifting dynamics, and manage the tensions underlying global trade today?U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy has a point of view. Murphy represents a Central Florida district that covers much of downtown and northern Orlando, and other cities. She serves on the House Ways and Means Committee and Armed Services Committee. She also is a co-chair of the Blue Dog Coalition, an official caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives comprised of 19 self-described “centrist” and “fiscally-responsible Democrats.”We wanted to know from Murphy: How should Washington, DC and the business world interact, and what could they learn from each other?


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Christopher Leonard: The Lords of Easy Money

We know the headlines: Inflation is the highest in 40 years, climbing 7 percent last year. Stock prices and corporate debt have been running incredibly high. Unemployment, meanwhile, is incredibly low, while the U.S. economy grew 5.7 percent in 2021, its fastest full-year clip since 1984. The wealth gap, meanwhile, continues to spread. To fight these realities – especially inflation – the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank will soon start unwinding their two most significant policies that drove extreme amounts of available money at rates that made that money virtually free to borrow since 2008 and the Great Recession and through the Covid pandemic: They will stop the extraordinary experiment of mass buying of U.S. Treasuries known as Quantitative Easing, and they will raise interest rates at least three – perhaps 4 or more times – this year. The American easy money party is over, and it’s time to clean up any mess. So how did this party get started? Why did it go on so long – long after the first signs of rising inflation arose last year? Who made the decisions and, perhaps more centrally, why is the U.S. central bank, comprised of unelected governors and bank presidents, so opaque? What happened behind closed doors? Christopher Leonard has the inside story – and he tells it masterfully. His book The Lords of Easy Money: How the Federal Reserve Broke the American Economy, is a clear telling of Fed policy and the key personalities behind it: people like Jerome Powell, Ben Bernanke, Janet Yellen, and one you may never have heard of, Thomas Hoenig. About Leonard: He is a business reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and Bloomberg Businessweek. He is the New York Times bestselling author of The Meat Racket and Kochland.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Maja Lapcevic: Mastercard Innovation, from Fintech to AI to Money 3.0

Of all human tools and inventions, few are as essential, complicated and stigmatized as money. In particular, financial technologies and concepts have often spurred growth, investment and powerful advancements around the globe.Maja Lapcevic brings a masterful understanding to the fintech space and these concepts. She is Senior Vice President, Mastercard Foundry Innovation Management & Marketing, where she leads Mastercard Lab’s Global Innovation Programs, the Mastercard Foundry Marketing team including Mastercard Experience Centers, and product portfolios for Data & Services as well as various dedicated innovation relationships. On a fundamental level, her work helps strengthen the trust, credibility and reliability that are essential to a thriving financial system, including helping government representatives learn about emerging technologies like crypto-currencies and NFTs, as well as working with startups globally to grow and scale their business.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Walter Isaacson: The Science and Business of CRISPR

Throughout nearly the entirety of human history, we have accepted a simple truth: A person’s genetic makeup is beyond one’s choice. Until now. In 2020, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna for the development of CRISPR, a method for genome editing. CRISPR may change everything -- and land us in a world previously imaginable only in science fiction. CRISPR can be wonderful and incredible. It may eliminate a child’s susceptibility to a genetic condition, such as cleft lip or cystic fibrosis or devastating disease. Imagine that. However, it also makes it possible to choose a child’s height or hair color. With these and other possibilities, the moral and ethical implications are important and immense. The race to discover CRISPR was one of the great science tales of the 21st century, a cross-continent battle of discovery and speed. So how did CRISPR arrive? And more importantly, where might it take us? Walter Isaacson is one to tell that story -- a professor of history at Tulane, he has been CEO of the Aspen Institute, chair of CNN, and editor of Time. He has written numerous No. 1 best-selling books, including on Leonardo DaVinci, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, and Ben Franklin, each one of the great creators of their time, who transformed not only their fields, but also the way humans connect -- offering new ways to think about and engage in meaningful human interaction. Isaacson’s latest book is The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race. It’s part mystery, part science, part personal, and completely compelling. Isaacson details the discovery of the CRISPR method and tells the story of the groundbreaking, female scientists who revolutionized the world.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Gregory Zuckerman: A Shot to Save the World — The Race for a COVID-19 Vaccine

By now we know what went wrong in the response to the most devastating pandemic in a century. Mistakes were legion and many of the world’s biggest drug and vaccine makers were slow to react or couldn’t muster effective responses. “A Shot to Save the World: The Inside Story of the Life-or-Death Race for a Covid-19 Vaccine” by award winning Wall Street Journal reporter and bestselling author Gregory Zuckerman is the untold story of what went right. It’s a riveting business, science, and public sector chronicle of the scientists' epic sprint to create Covid-19 vaccines, fulfilling decades of unheralded yet revolutionary work on messenger RNA, virology, immunology, and more.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Moving Forward with Purpose: Leadership in the Next Chapter

CD&R Co-President Dave Novak hosts Professor Nien-hê Hsieh, the Joseph L. Rice, III Faculty Fellow at Harvard Business School, for a discussion about the cultural shifts around business and purpose. As Founder, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and Partner over his three-decade career at CD&R, Joseph L. Rice, III shaped an institution grounded in a set of core values with integrity at the center. Joe spent the major portion of his business career in private equity and is recognized for his emphasis on ethical decision-making.The Joseph L. Rice, III Faculty Fellowship is supported by a fund CD&R established in 2012 (The Fellowship Fund) to honor Joe’s contributions to the Firm and the private equity industry. The Fellowship Fund supports academic activity focused on the study of values, integrity, and leadership in business.Professor Hsieh is the third HBS professor to be a Joseph L. Rice, III Faculty Fellow. In addition he is the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at HBS and Director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. His research concerns ethical issues in business and the responsibilities of global business leaders.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Hive Health – Co-winner of Harvard’s New Ventures Competition

Today we explore entrepreneurialism – the spirit that drives it, and what it takes to turn that spiritual drive into tangible action. The journey takes us to hallowed halls at Harvard and Stanford, but it starts in – perhaps – a less likely location: The Philippines. The U.S. health care challenge is likely well known to listeners of this podcast. But the U.S. is far from the only country that struggles with access, cost, payment, coverage and more. That’s the challenge that students and entrepreneurs Jiawen Tang and Camille Ang have taken on in an award-winning, globally-recognized way through Hive Health, a digital health insurer providing simplified, affordable, and quality healthcare to Filipino employees through a data science-powered platform. Hive Health was co-winner of the 2021 Dubilier Grand Prize at Harvard’s prestigious New Ventures Competition. The Dubilier Prize was established by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice in 1998 in honor of CD&R Co-Founder, Martin Dubilier (MBA 1952), to support entrepreneurship. This conversation not only digs into the business itself, but also, importantly, what it takes to bootstrap a new business from idea to reality. In other words, what it takes to be an entrepreneur. About the entrepreneurs themselves: Jiawen Tang is pursuing an MPA-International Development at the Harvard Kennedy School and an MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She has worked on data science and digital development initiatives with the IMF, World Bank, and UN, and on economic development initiatives with TechnoServe Swaziland and its successor Catalyze. She also served at Oliver Wyman, where she focused on consumer financial services and digital payments. Camille Ang is pursuing an MPA-International Development degree at the Harvard Kennedy School and an MBA at the Harvard Business School. She worked in Private Equity at Macquarie, managed insurance funds, and played critical roles in the acquisition and management of companies across South East Asia. Camille has also previously worked on public-private partnership projects in the government of the Philippines, with McKinsey, as well as the Rwandan Development Board.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Victoria Sakal: How Brands Can Build Trust

It seems obvious: We are not exactly living in the golden age of trust. Everywhere one turns, trust seems to be crumbling – institutions, politicians, media, even science. The causes, of course, are everywhere, starting – but not ending – with social media and that old line: a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes. So given the current state of trust, what are brands supposed to do? What are the key trends around the building — and breaking — of consumer trust? What challenges do brands face? What do the good ones do well? How easy is it to lose? And as consumers increasing “expect” brands to take positions on our most divisive social issues, how exactly should brands manage those tensions? Victoria Sakal is one to ask. Victoria is Morning Consult’s Managing Director of Brand Intelligence. She leads the company’s brand intelligence research, focusing on the intersection of data with marketing strategy, brand reputation, and consumer trends. She is also author of the intelligence company’s Most Trusted Brands 2021 report, in addition to recent reports on the post-vaccine consumer, examining evolved attitudes towards brands, categories, channels, consumption, Consumer-Brand Relationships, and more. As you’ll hear, Victoria skillfully explains not only the key trends brands face, but importantly the key tactics that winning brands employ.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Jordan Ellenberg -- Why Math Matters in Business

Great business leaders are often seen as innovators, inspirational storytellers and brilliant leaders. They are keen and decisive observers. But would we envision any mathematical principles in their toolkit? Just as business finds solutions to various problems and hurdles, mathematical formulas and practices make sense of our chaotic world. What can business-minded individuals learn from these insights? How do principles of randomness and probability factor into shrewd business planning? Jordan Ellenberg is the internationally-bestselling author of How Not To Be Wrong and the recently-published Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else. He holds a master's in fiction writing from John Hopkins and a Ph.D. in math from Harvard. He has been writing for a general audience about math for over fifteen years and advocates for leaning into the anxieties and misunderstandings many of us have about mathematics.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Roberto Quarta: What Makes an Effective Board of Directors

In the time of an unprecedented global pandemic, boards – private and public – have been forced to re-examine priorities. And it’s not just trying to manage through Covid. ESG, diversity & inclusion, an evolving remote-work dynamic, a growing expectation that corporations will engage with social issues around race, gender and more.As companies face new challenges, what makes an effective board of directors? And how are companies with strong board compositions and engagement better equipped for turbulent times?To find answers, I spoke with Roberto Quarta. Roberto is Chairman of CD&R Europe, in addition to being Board Chair of WPP and Smith & Nephew. He is a former CEO and serves on both private and public boards. And as you’ll hear, to drive success, there’s one agenda in particular that has captured his attention – it’s what he calls the “human agenda.”


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Nicholas Dirks -- The Impact of Science Today

Has there been a time when science has played a more significant, more direct role in the quality, if not quantity, of our lives? The most obvious example, of course, is Covid-19 – from understanding the pandemic to developing a cure in record time. And yet simultaneously – just as science brings us together, allowing individuals and societies to connect again – has there been a time when science has divided us more? Not only in our acceptance of how to manage Covid, but even extending to our climate. How should we – in business, public policy, and our own lives – reconcile the seemingly contradictory trend that arguably science is as inspiring and dividing right now as perhaps any time in history? For answers, if not insights, few are better to ask than Nicholas Dirks.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Ben Rhodes on What Happened to America -- and the World?

For eight years, Ben Rhodes served as Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama, engaged in issues ranging from reestablishing relations with Cuba to Benghazi to helping negotiate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, better known as the Iran nuclear deal. Now, more than four years after leaving that role – but still engaged in business, politics, and international relations – Rhodes has written a book about his personal post-Obama journey that sought to answer a simple question: What happened – to the world, America, and himself as the undertow of history pulled us into the currents of nationalism and authoritarianism – and what we should do about it? It's titled "After the Fall: Being American in the World We've Made." As Rhodes writes: “To be born American in the late twentieth century was to take the fact of a particular kind of American exceptionalism as granted— a state of nature arrived at after all else had failed... Somehow, after three decades of unchecked American capitalism, military power, and technological innovation, the currents of history had turned against democracy itself.”


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Daniel Feder on the State of Endowment Investing

It goes without saying – nearly every sector globally has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. But for few sectors are those effects more evident than universities. From admissions to in-person classes to college sports, there’s hardly an element of the experience that hasn’t had to pivot quickly. So what about endowment investing? As universities face untold economic uncertainties and challenges, what impact has it had on the approach endowments take. Put differently, have the characteristics that make endowment investing different – from time horizons to information access and beyond – been helpful in navigating these new challenges? Daniel Feder is one to ask. Dan is a Managing Director with the University of Michigan Investment Office and leads the endowment’s investments in private equity and venture capital. Prior to joining Michigan, Dan was the Managing Director of Private Markets at the Washington University Investment Management Company. Previously, among other roles, Feder served asManaging Director of Private Markets for the Sequoia Capital Heritage Fund, Senior Investment Manager in the endowment services area at TIAA-CREF, and Managing Director at Princeton University Investment Company, the investment office for Princeton University’s endowment.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Dr. Alexandria White: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion -- and Business

While the terms diversity, equity and inclusion are not new, the movement – across society, institutions, and businesses – gained extraordinary momentum this year. Obviously, this push for increased understanding, awareness, and action was greatly inspired by George Floyd’s death. It has grown from there. But what, exactly, does diversity, equity, and inclusion – often called D.E.I. – actually look like? What tangible steps can business leaders take to integrate the principles not as one-off projects, but rather on going standard operating procedures? And what might those changes mean – for immediate adopters and companies slow on the uptake – for any business’ ability to compete and win in a next-generation workplace? Dr. Alexandria White works with organizations to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces. She serves as Director of Diversity for ReBoot Accel and as an adjunct faculty in the University of Mississippi’s School of Education. Dr. White has worked in retail banking, leadership, community activism, diversity planning and higher education and founded S.A.M.S. – Student Affairs MomS – the largest online community for mothers who work on college campuses. As you’ll hear, she brings deep perspective, experience, and actionable tips to the conversation.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Dr. Josh Lerner — Future of Diversity and Inclusion in Private Equity

A straightforward question: as we consider the future of diversity and inclusion in private equity, can the industry meet the challenge? To seek answers, the Private Capital Project at the Harvard Business School and the Private Capital Research Institute recently hosted a webinar with a group of limited and general partners. What did they find? I spoke with one of the conference leaders, Dr. Josh Lerner, the Schiff Professor of Investment Banking at Harvard Business School. He co-directs the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Program and serves as co- editor of their publication, Innovation Policy and the Economy. He founded and runs the Private Capital Research Institute, a nonprofit devoted to encouraging access to data and research, and has been a frequent leader of and participant in the World Economic Forum projects and events. He has been named one of the 100 most influential people in private equity over the past decade and one of the ten most influential academics in the institutional investing world.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Joe Coughlin: The Science & Art of Managing Business Risk Today

Businesses, of course, face risk every day, whether from supply chain disruption, calamity, or as we’ve seen from a series of hurricanes of the last years, Mother Nature. But most of these risks have a foreseeable ending – after all, at some point the hurricane passes. But among the many business risks during this Covid age are the unknown risks – how long will the pandemic endure? Which geographies will be hit hardest? What might recovery look like? And while the insurance business can account for many of the regular risks, Covid brings a new, challenging dimension. So how are the insurance companies thinking about Covid-19? Perhaps more significantly, how can businesses measure, plan, and account for the risks they face? How should they think about the problem?


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

George Nguyen: What Does Gen Z Want from Brands?

It’s the age old question nearly every business brand would like to know: What do young people care about? Do they apply their beliefs and goals to their commercial choices? Do brands matter to them? Put differently, from a brand’s perspective, do youth care about who you are — or what you do and how you do it? What are the forces influencing their brand choices? And when leading global and domestic brands want to know the answer to these questions, George Nguyen is one person they frequently call. Nguyen is Managing Director of Untapped, a youth trends and insights agency that is changing the way brands approach market research. Untapped is borne of the simple belief that the only subject matter experts are the subjects themselves – and they tap into their network of more than 5,000 young urban influencers and what they call “gatekeepers” to learn. They do this by partnering with STOKED, a non-profit youth development program in NY, CHI, and LA. Untapped gets the insights; the youth gatekeepers gain opportunities to learn: presentation skills, professional communications, office skills, statistics and analytics, and design and development, including photoshop, coding, and more. Among their clients have been McDonalds, Nike, Jordan Brands, Gatorade, HBO and others.


Ask host to enable sharing for playback control

Vindi Banga: Business Outlook in a Changing World

Once again this year, thousands of the world’s leading economic and business players met in the little Swiss ski town of Davos. And once again, the key topics and discussions had little to do with winter sports. The reasons are obvious. There’s a lot going on in the world today and plenty of questions: To find out, we spoke with Clayton, Dubilier & Rice London-based Operating Partner Vindi Banga. Some background on Vindi’s global business and policy efforts: Banga spent 33 years at Unilever, where he served as executive board member and president of Global Foods, Home & Personal Care. He led the creation of a 'One Unilever' agenda for the Foods, Home & Personal Care organization, responsible for innovation and marketing mix development across 170 countries for all 270 Unilever brands. Vindi also was responsible for Unilever's sustainability agenda, an issue – as you’ll hear – he has learned and thought about since his childhood in India. Vindi served on the Prime Minister of India's Council of Trade & Industry from 2004 to 2014, and in 2010 the India’s President awarded him the Padma Bhushan, one of the country’s highest civilian awards.