Lecture by Baroness Perry of Southwark. March 23 4-6 PM. Tempe Campus, Arizona State


A lecture by Baroness Perry of Southwark

Place: The Biodesign Institute Auditorium
(At the East end of the Orange Mall on McAllister Ave.)
Arizona State University, Tempe Campus

Time: Monday, March 23, 2009 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Baroness Perry of Southwark

As her Majesty’s Inspector in the Department for Education, Baroness Perry of Southwark worked with the OECD on projects in higher education and teacher education. In addition, she has participated on the EEC working group on teacher education, and was promoted Chief Inspector in 1981. She was appointed Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of South Bank University (formerly South Bank Polytechnic) in 1987. In 1994, she became President of Lucy Cavendish College, the University of Cambridge. From 2001 until 2006, she was Pro-Chancellor of the University of Surrey, and Chair of Council at the University of Roehampton. She is currently President of the Institute of Management, London, a position she took up in 2001.

Baroness Perry is an Honorary Fellow of Girton and Lucy Cavendish Colleges in Cambridge University; of Sunderland University; the College of Preceptors; the Royal Society of Arts; the Swedish Academy of Science; and the City and Guilds of London. She has been awarded seven honorary doctorates and eight honorary fellowships. She was made a Life Peer in 1991.

She is a graduate of Cambridge University where she studied philosophy at Girton College. She has lectured at the University of Manitoba, Canada, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Exeter, and Oxford University. She has published extensively on education issues having written four books, the most recent being The Womb in Which I Lay, a study of mother-daughter relationships. She is currently working on a book on aging.

This event is free and open to the public (no tickets required).

Please RSVP to Paula Miller at 480.727.7262 or paula.miller@asu.edu by Friday, March 20.

Hosted by the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education

New Homes (smaller+efficient+green) = economic viability for homebuilders

In the March 2009 publication of AZRE Danial Pollack of Pollack Real Estate Investments provided his thoughts on the Arizona economic outlook for 2009. What caught my eyes was his assessment of the residential market. He said, “At large, people are changing their goals from having the largest home possible, at any cost, to having the the best possible quality of life. That means small homes within infill locations will be the most sought after in the residential markets for the foreseeable future”.

Yet another comment in a string of news pieces from NPR, Washington Post, Arizona Republic, etc. regarding the changes going on in the marketplace. It will be interesting to see in the coming year which builders will capitalize on the smaller, efficient, greener home concept. Will it give them the competitive advantage they need to survive the financial crisis? Is this a temporary or permanent change for the home building industry?

NPR Interview – Elizabeth Warren: Foreclosures Threaten Economy

I listened to NPR’s interview with Elizabeth Warren, Chairwoman of the TARP Oversight Panel. She is exceptional at addressing complex problems and bringing them home to the common person. – http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=101611260

Warren is a Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the co-author of The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers & Fathers Are Going Broke, which she wrote with her daughter in 2003.

Arizona Builders Alliance – White Paper from Industry Leaders Roundtable

I received a quick summary of a recent round-table discussion (January I believe) Arizona Builders Alliance had regarding what contractors should and should not be doing during the tough economic times. Here are some of the things that the group suggested:

1. What should contractors be doing right now?

  • Preserve cash, manage credit line
  • Use credit lines or they may be cancelled
  • Keep cash in places that are safe, federally guaranteed
  • Watch cash flow and collect your money
  • Know the margins in your projects; ease margins down but don’t work free
  • Cut overhead fast: GC’s evaluate every 3-6 months; more frequently for subs
  • Project worst case scenario and adjust overhead accordingly
  • Lower overhead now for what you expect it to be in the two-three years
  • Use a stair step approach in downsizing
  • Eliminate helicopters, boats, condos and other non-essential overload
  • Try and get securities in lieu of retention
  • Create “what if” plans; it makes you less emotional
  • Change plans quickly if necessary
  • Be ready when market comes back strong
  • Identify and keep your core staff
  • Communicate with key employees
  • Be mindful many employees have never been through this before
  • Expect more from remaining staff
  • Stay close to your customers; maintain marketing strength
  • Make it easy as possible to do business with
  • Look to emerging markets
  • If expanding geographically, do so with familiar work
  • Maintain and improve your key customer relationships
  • Consider going “dormant” if sole proprietor

2. What should contractors NOT be doing right now?

  • Don’t load up on cheap work; sacrifice volume for margin
  • Don’t keep mediocre employees
  • Don’t chase lots of directions at once (geographically or niches)
  • Don’t bank on cash flow to keep company going
  • Don’t take on work outside of your markets
  • Don’t hide from your employees
  • Don’t reduce training and education budgets

3. How can leaders foster positive attitudes within their employees?

  • Communicate company current status (be open about financials) even closely held
  • Be open and visible
  • Inform your people what you are doing
  • Encourage employees to ask questions
  • Let the employees know their role and responsibility
  • Emphasize employee actions will determine their security and that of the firm
  • Demonstrate how the company values apply to the situation
  • Remember external communication- banks, bonding companies, suppliers and owners
  • Be engaged in the solution
  • Be optimistic and realistic about the future
  • Plan with your employees; strategic plan and targets (necessary)
  • Upside: economic conditions are fostering positive attitudes among workers (sense of urgency, improved work ethic, and increased productivity)

4. What are the top skills necessary to survive and prosper?

  • Communication
  • Leadership, courage, positive attitude, encourager
  • Decisive-willingness to make tough decisions early
  • Focus on present and future; let go of the past
  • Objectively consider all alternatives
  • Calmness, stability, don’t be frantic
  • Process skill improvement
  • Plan ahead while it’s unemotional. Don’t simply react; make the tough decisions
  • Being able to adapt/be flexible
  • Strong financial skills and know how to manage finance
  • Persistence/tenacity
  • Don’t let them see you sweat!

5. What should contractors do now to prepare for the next upturn?

  • Keep the cash
  • Keep the cash
  • Keep the cash!
  • Stay lean and flexible
  • Follow the money – look for new opportunities
  • Pre-buy some commodities
  • Improve your core people (education and training)
  • Upgrade your team talent; replace C players with A players
  • Cross train
  • Create teams of existing customers, subs, etc, architect, and engineer
  • Prepare for green culture
  • Maintain your client relationships and create new client relationship
  • Refine in house and construction processes

Good Read: Doctoral Candidates Anticipate Hard Times

Interesting how the economy has backed up a lot of different processes in our lives. Prior to the economic slowdown there was an expectation that there would be a lot of faculty positions opening up as tenured faculty retired. Now that the economy has significantly reduced retirement funds many are opting to stay employed a little while longer. Much to the chagrin of recent Ph.D. grads there is little available as they come out of the pipeline. Patricia Cohen’s article in the New York Times illustrates the complexities of the situation quite well. Original article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/07/arts/07grad.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1