Tuck’s Virtual Summer Sessions a Success

As part of Tuck’s Alumni Lifelong Learning initiative, the summer virtual programs brought the entire community together for rich, faculty-led sessions on topics ranging from race and equity to managing your brand through a crisis.

Tuck’s signature professional development program for alumni, Tuck Alumni Lifelong Learning (TALL), launched this winter with virtual events featuring faculty, alumni, and visiting luminaries. 

This summer, Tuck Alumni Engagement collaborated with Tuck Executive Education to organize a special series of eight online sessions addressing timely and timeless business challenges and the ripple effects of the pandemic. Open to the entire Tuck community, topics ranged from race and equity in the workplace to operations, communications, risk, and brand management.

“The program couldn’t have gone better,” says Renee Hirschberg, the director of alumni engagement and advancement operations. “We had more than 1200 people—from T’60s to rising T’22s, located around the world—attend the sessions in five weeks, and the sessions really highlighted some of the most notable faculty names, and those professors really showed what makes them legendary.”

The Summer Sessions aren’t the only way alumni can engage with Tuck this summer and fall. There is also Global Tuck Tails (GTT) and Reunion Reimagined, two efforts that leverage the incredible Tuck spirit to bring together friends and classmates digitally. For GTT, volunteers hosted more than 25 events, including updates on Tuck, Tuck Trivia, and a photo contest. This year’s Reunion Reimagined will be a one-day event that will feature Dean Matthew Slaughter’s annual Tuck Year Ahead town hall, a closing panel in honor of 50 Years of Women at Tuck, a career session on maximizing your LinkedIn profile, and virtual class get togethers.

These virtual programs illustrate the innovation Tuck is bringing to the current context, taking great care to connect the entire Tuck community. “We look forward to improving on these innovations even after we can all be together in person,” Hirschberg says.


"COVID-19 and Forging the Future"

Vijay Govindarajan
Coxe Distinguished Professor of Management

With his three-box framework for management, best-selling author Vijay “VG” Govindarajan has inspired innovation around the world. But what does this framework have to teach us about doing business in the era of COVID-19? During this Summer Session, VG discussed his three-box framework and how it can foster a thriving organization that invests in the future, even as the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout necessitate a sharp focus on business continuity.

What VG Wants Us to Know

  1. Exogenous shocks force new behavior that can cause you to grow and improve.
  2. Strategy is about achieving your true potential. It’s about making your competition irrelevant.
  3. Don’t limit your accomplishments by your expectations.

Additional Resources


"Race, Equity, and Conspirators in the Workplace"

Ella L.J. Bell-Smith
Professor of Business Administration

During the summer of 2020, race and racism in America have been at the forefront of national discourse. In this Tuck Summer Session with Ella L.J. Bell Smith, a nationally renowned expert on race relations in the workplace, Ella discussed race, equity, and the essential role business leaders can take in building a future that promises opportunity and success.

What Ella Wants Us to Know

  1. Race is about a cultural difference. It’s about values, norms, and assumptions within groups.
  2. You don’t need to prove that equality is important in your organization. It’s simply a part of good leadership and good management.
  3. Stop thinking the people in your company have the answers. You need to pay people to come in and do a deep collaborative diagnosis: What is happening and what kind of micro racial issues are people experiencing? Why are people leaving?
  4. People of color don’t need allies; they need co-conspirators.


Additional Resources

  • Ella Bell Smith, “Sisterhood Is Scarce,” Harvard Business Review podcast Women at Work.
  • Kira Hudson Banks and Richard Harvey, “Is Your Company Actually Fighting Racism, or Just Talking About It?,” Harvard Business Review online, June 11, 2020.
  • Stephanie Creary, “How to Begin Talking About Race in the Workplace,” Knowledge @ Wharton, June 15, 2020.
  • Jennifer L. Eberhardt, Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do.
  • Daniel Hill, White Awake: An Honest Look at What It Means to Be White.
  • Jonathan M. Metzl, Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America's Heartland.
  • Laura Morgan Roberts and Ella F. Washington, “U.S. Businesses Must Take Meaningful Action Against Racism,” Harvard Business Review online, June 1, 2020.


"Operations in the Emerging Era of Industry 4.0"

Brian Tomlin
William and Josephine Buchanan Professor of Management

Industry 4.0, a term first coined in Germany, posits that we are actually at the dawn of a new, fourth industrial revolution brought about by technologies that enable an almost real-time connection between the physical and digital worlds. In this Summer Session, Brian Tomlin gives an overview of some of the disparate technologies driving this digital–physical marriage and discusses the implications, including both opportunities and challenges, that Industry 4.0 holds for operations, supply chains, and business more broadly.

What Brian Wants Us to Know

  1. Industry 4.0 is a real-time connection between the physical and digital worlds.
  2. Industry 4.0 is enabled by 3D printing, advanced robotics, the Internet of Things, AI and analytics, augmented reality, and blockchain technology.
  3. Industry 4.0 promises to improve the operations objectives of cost, quality, delivery, and flexibility, while reducing the tensions between these objectives.


"COVID-19’s Manufacturing Revolution"

Geoff Parker
Professor of Engineering at Dartmouth College

In this Summer Session, Thayer professor Geoff Parker draws on a report he coauthored for the World Economic Forum to explore how the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred radical innovation in business and operating models, and what this means for the future. Will firms one day “snap back” to normal or find some new way to exist in a permanently transformed world of business?

What Geoff Wants Us to Know

  1. Business disruption from the pandemic will take the form of demand side, supply side, or both.
  2. The response patterns to the disruptions can be: “weather the storm,” “rapid pivot,” or “ride the wave.”
  3. In the “new normal” after the pandemic, operations will become a set of assets that provide strategic options; capital may be scarce; asset reshoring will need to provide better products, faster times to market, and more efficient and flexible operations; and both operations and business models will need to be innovated.


Additional Resources


"Risk and COVID-19"

Punam Anand Keller
Charles Henry Jones Third Century Professor of Management

Even people who seem to be similar in other ways have different views on the possible risks of COVID-19. Is this because of gender? Because they have different levels of anxiety or hope? Or because they are more or less aware of data, or can afford to accept different levels of risk? This Summer Session with Punam Keller, deputy dean and an expert in marketing health and wealth, offers perspectives from psychology, economics, sociology, and marketing that examine how people think about risk in multiple domains—social, financial, and health.

What Punam Wants Us to Know

  1. Risk is uncertainty that matters. It can be expressed as risk = likelihood x consequence.
  2. Know the difference between cause (a result of an existing condition), risk (an uncertain event that may be possible to occur), and effect (the positive or negative impact on an objective).
  3. We cannot identify all risk; all we can do is do our homework to identify and manage all knowable risks that matter.

Additional Resources

  • Graham, John D., Jonathan Baert Wiener, and Cass R. Sunstein, eds. Risk vs. Risk. Harvard University Press, 1995.
  • Nelson, Julie A. Gender and Risk-Taking: Economics, Evidence, and Why the Answer Matters. Routledge, 2018.
  • Rahman, Kashfia. “How Risk-Taking Changes a Teenager’s Brain.” Filmed February 2019 at TED Salon: U.S. Air Force.


"What Is a Business For?"

Paul Argenti
Professor of Corporate Communication

This Summer Session has insights and guidance from Professor Paul Argenti, corporate communications expert and trusted voice of reason in the fray. Centering on the tension between the financial ramifications of a crisis like COVID-19 and the need to satisfy all constituents over the long term, Professor Argenti explores best and next practices in corporate responsibility during crisis, the importance of focusing on employees, and how to determine the way you want your company to be remembered after the crisis is over.

What Paul Wants Us to Know

  1. Every leadership team has to think about how they will be remembered and judged in reaction to the Covid-19 crisis.
  2. Ensure advertising is in line with strategy and values and sensitive to the changing situation.
  3. Provide as much support as you can afford.
  4. View employees as assets, not liabilities.
  5. Corporate responsibility is not about saying the right thing, but doing the right thing.


Additional Resources

  • Argenti, Paul A. Corporate Responsibility. Sage Publications, 2015.


"Managing Your Brand Through a Crisis"

Kevin Lane Keller
E.B. Osborn Professor of Marketing

Times of crisis make it clear that brands are not immune to events in the wider world, as we’ve seen again and again in 2020. So what do you do when you just can’t rely on business as usual? Watch this Summer Session with Professor Kevin Lane Keller—senior associate dean for innovation and growth and an international leader in the study of brands, branding, and strategic brand management—for guidelines about which branding practices need to change and which do not. Drawing examples from the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis it unleashed, Keller will help you adapt your brand strategies to thrive even in uncertain times.

What Kevin Wants Us to Know

  1. There are four key marketing considerations during the pandemic: empathy (get closer to your consumers an customers), value (put forth the most compelling value proposition), strategy (be authentic and true to your brand, and innovation (stop, start, and continue – but improve).

Additional Resources


"Reflections on Wisdom"

Sydney Finkelstein
Steven Roth Professor of Management

The Tuck School is focused on developing wise, decisive leaders, a focus that parallels Professor Sydney Finkelstein’s own interests as a teacher and a thought leader. So, for our final Summer Session, Professor Finkelstein, a best-selling author and 27-year veteran at Tuck, will share five reflections on wisdom, both practical and philosophical. Each is about people and the things we try to do to create meaning, impact, and success in our lives and the lives of the people who surround us.

What Syd Wants Us to Know

  1. The best leaders ask great questions.
  2. Our history is who we are. We must try to understand how that history shapes us and our community.
  3. Most of us will pay attention to the evidence in front of us. What are we choosing to not pay attention to?
  4. It takes a village.
  5. The means justify the ends. Appreciate and enjoy the process of life.


Additional Resources

  • The Sydcast podcast, especially Season 2 starting in June 2020.
  • Finkelstein, Sydney. Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent. Penguin, 2016.
  • Finkelstein, Sydney. Why Smart Executives Fail: And What You Can Learn from Their Mistakes. Penguin, 2004.
  • Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur. “Silver Blaze,” Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories, Volume I. Vintage, 2020.
  • Finkelstein, Sydney. “Managing Talent.” MAD video presentation.