Course Spotlight: Businesses, Organizations and Society

Megan Lam ’17 recalls writing a 10-year life plan as part of Businesses, Organizations and Society (BOS), an Academy elective that teaches juniors and seniors about business. Revisiting that plan now, the Northeastern University senior, who recently completed a co-op at Goldman Sachs, is amazed at how much of it remains valid.

Meanwhile, Erik Jia ’17, who will graduate from Duke University this spring, remembers watching a TED Talk during the course of billionaire Ray Dalio discussing radical transparency and idea meritocracy at Bridgewater Associates, a hedge fund he founded with a principled-based approach to investing.

Jia applied such principles to the Duke Impact Investing Group (DIIG), a campus organization where he serves as partner. “I think it’s because of adherence to an idea-meritocratic culture that we have been able to grow from 10 to 200 members in the three years,” he says. “My involvement at BOS and DIIG also influenced my decision to intern at Bridgewater.”

Founded in 2004 by Punahou Trustee Mark Fukunaga ’74 and businessman Brian Barbata, BOS is now taught by Barbata and volunteer business professionals Ken Gilbert and Scott Paul, and Mark Loughridge, director of Punahou’s Case Accelerator for Student Entrepreneurship. All four instructors have extensive business experience both in Hawai‘i and elsewhere.

Since its inception, more than 200 students have taken the class, many of whom have ventured off into the business world. BOS is not a typical introductory course that only touches upon business fundamentals. Rather, it’s a big-picture course that teaches strategy and leadership and how
businesses operate and compete.

“At the mall, I see many of the marketing techniques we learned about, like the 4 Ps of marketing – place, product, price and promotion. But now, it has a deeper meaning,” says Sydney Lezy ’22, who took the class as a senior.

The course has gone through several experimental forms, the latest being a speaker forum of 15 local entrepreneurs and executives from a wide range of activities, sharing their experiences and the way their organizations work, with the students.

Last fall, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi spoke to the class about how business applies to government, while Trustee Emily Reber ’92 Porter talked about the MacNaughton Group’s real estate development process in Honolulu. Former Punahou President Jim Scott ’70 spoke to BOS classes for years prior to his retirement, describing the business aspects of the School and getting student input on strategy. The students got to interact directly with the speakers, making it even more relevant.

Geralynne Amasol ’19, a junior at the University of Hawai‘i’s Shidler College of Business, credits BOS with encouraging her to ask questions about the application of concepts rather than just about the concepts themselves, reflecting the practical nature of the course.

Janelle Ramos ’22, who operates a custom-designed sticker business called Demi Art, said the course helped her refine her business model. “I have a better understanding now of why the decisions I made to grow Demi Art were successful, and I also have a much better idea of how to do my business finances.”

Rustin Katsura ’22 says the course has furthered his plans to build a social media app. “I learned how to harness the power of exponential technologies, create roadmaps for my app and build my business from the ground up,” he says. To volunteer as a speaker for the 2022 fall class, please contact Mark Loughridge at

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