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Faculty Insights

WSB’s Hart Posen and Intuit Cofounder Scott Cook Discuss COVID-19 and the Business Landscape

UW Now Livestream Series for Alumni Examines Impacts of the Coronavirus Pandemic

By Wisconsin School of Business

July 17, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed challenges to business that have never been seen before. But in Hart Posen’s view, it’s an opportunity to question whether there is a “silver lining” to be had in spite of the negative circumstances.

“And my answer is ‘yes,’” said Posen, professor of management and human resources and the Richard G. and Julie J. Diermeier Professor in Business at the Wisconsin School of Business. “My answer is, things like COVID-19, but other large disasters and even small things, create new problems to solve, they showcase old problems in a way that perhaps we hadn’t thought of them before, and they also make possible new solutions to old problems.”

Posen shared his perspective and expertise during the virtual series, “The UW Now Livestream: Innovation in a Pandemic: How COVID-19 Will Change the Landscape of Business.”

He was joined by Scott Cook, cofounder of Intuit. Cook and his wife, Signe Ostby (BBA ’75, MBA ’77), who is an inaugural member of the Wisconsin Naming Partnership, founded WSB’s Center for Brand and Product Management and are current Center advisory board members.

“After all the damage of the crisis is over, will any good have come from COVID-19?” Cook said.
Using World War II-era hardships as an example, he cited numerous innovations—including the rediscovery of penicillin and greater aeronautics—that emerged as a direct result of that period’s challenges.

“I think it’s also true that optimists invent the future, pessimists never do,” Cook said, adding his own take on a Winston Churchill quote he shared with the live audience.

He also detailed four areas of business and innovation where he predicts positive growth and longevity. “These changes are already underway, and they look to be reasonably durable post COVID-19.”

The live YouTube event was hosted by Mike Knetter, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association (WFAA) and former WSB dean. Read the WFAA recap and watch the full video: