CEO & Founder of Chobani!

3 weeks until graduation – I can’t believe it!

Even though we have a ton of fun senior week activities coming up, I still have a lot of work to do before the semester ends. Even more than getting good grades, I just don’t want to let my team members down! I have a final this week in my Pricing class and three presentations – one in Customer Insights, one in Entrepreneurial Finance, and one in Decision Models. Yikes, so much work!

In this post, I want to write about a guest speaker we had this week. The founder and CEO of Chobani Yogurt came to Stern to talk about his success story. Hamdi Ulukaya said, “I scraped together funding to buy an old yogurt plant in upstate New York in 2005, with help from a Small Business Administration Loan. I didn’t have any concrete plans, and the place wasn’t in good shape — with water dripping from the ceiling and paint peeling for the walls. But when I got the idea to start making Greek yogurt in the U.S., the company fixed the factory up and ran with it, and I basically lived in the plant for five years to get Chobani off the ground.”

He talked about his strategy to focus on a substantial, yet healthy yogurt solution for consumers. He brought a low sugar and preservatives product with catchy packaging to the shelves, and it was a hit from the start. He refused to outsource any part of the process and instead controlled everything from production of the product to it hitting the shelves in grocery stores. He also emphasized his appreciation for his dedicated workers and how they inspired him to do more for the community and give back to people (especially children) of the town Chobani started producing in.

It was an inspiring discussion because it was really about a man that came to the U.S. for the first time with nothing – no job, no money, no future. He saw a need for something in the market and had a very simple idea. From there, it was passion and determination…and now he is a billionaire.

Along with Hamdi, we’ve had some other great speakers come to Stern – people I would never have had exposure to had I not been here getting my MBA in NYC. Some of these speakers include the CEO of Twitter, CEO of JCrew, CMO of Diageo, Founder of KIND Bars, etc. So many amazing, inspiring leaders in today’s changing business world.

That’s it for today. More next week…have a good weekend!