The Future of Business, Health Care, ESG, and Climate Change
At Booth’s in-person Management Conference, faculty and industry experts explored critical business issues two years into the COVID-19 pandemic.
- May 19, 2022
What is the future of business in Chicago? What trends are transforming the health-care system? What constraints exist within ESG investing?
These were just a few of the many questions that were answered at Management Conference 2022. More than 550 alumni, students, faculty, and members of the business community attended this year’s conference.
Here are a few takeaways from some of the event sessions.
Emerging Industries Will Impact the Future of Business in Chicago
In the keynote conversation, Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, JD ’89, and Madhav Rajan, dean and George Pratt Shultz Professor of Accounting, discussed the future of work in Chicago, ways the Office of the Mayor is working to solve various disparities across the city, and emerging industries that will be key to Chicago’s economic growth in years to come.
“There’s a wave of opportunity that we can invest in,” Mayor Lightfoot said. “We’re thinking about that now with the great investors and entrepreneurs in our city.”
The Pandemic Has Transformed the Health-Care Industry
Therese Wareham, ’82, a consultant for hospitals and health systems, shared her perspective on the current state of health-care systems and hospitals and the impact of COVID-19. With higher nurse salaries and the increase in travel nurses, she said, hospitals are fighting with nursing shortages.
Additionally, Karen Parkhill, ’92, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Medtronic, a producer of ventilators, said the company increased their ventilator output by six times during the pandemic.
Wareham said that in 10 years, she hopes we will need fewer hospitals and have more technology and innovation that keeps people out of hospitals. Parkhill added that artificial intelligence will help develop the next generation of systems for diseases like diabetes.
“A.I. is our future,” Parkhill said, noting A.I. in diabetes pumps could detect eating and exercise habits within patients, allowing insulin delivery to be managed automatically.
Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Investing Remains a Controversial Topic
What is the future of ESG investing? Speakers Marianne Bertrand, Chris P. Dialynas Distinguished Service Professor of Economics; Robert H. Gertner, Joel F. Gemunder Professor of Strategy and Finance and John Edwardson Faculty Director of Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation; Amy Christensen, ’11; and Lukasz Pomorski, MBA ’06, PhD ’06, debated key topics facing the future of ESG investing. Professor Bertrand said she felt encouraged that more than 80 alumni filled the room to attend the session, whereas 10 years ago, it may have been empty.
Christensen shared that her private equity firm, Vistria, which has a focus on health care, is finding success with their newer approach to investing, combining significant financial returns with positive change for communities across America. She noted defining success in ESG investing can be a challenge; for Vistria, that involves defining factors in quality health care.
Pomorski said to keep in mind that investing in ESG is a reflection of one’s values—not necessarily something that will change behavior in companies. He also said companies looking to improve their ESG profile should look to who their investors are and base their choices off of their interests. Professor Gertner added that consumers and employees are also critical stakeholders.
What’s Next with Climate Change?
During this session, Patricia Kampling, ’91, retired CEO and chairman of Alliant Energy Corporation, and Michael Polsky, ’87, founder and CEO of Invenergy LLC, debated how companies must care about more than just the bottom line and their performance today and be concerned with the future. They said ultimately, public policy will need to enforce these changes. Kampling said she’s thrilled to see that students are as interested in this topic as they are—a shift from what she’s observed in the past.
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