Tag: CES

Beverly Pagone, PMBA 44

Beverly Pagone, PMBA 44

Beverly Pagone, PMBA 44, contributed this post on behalf of Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning, which sponsors the Global Management Studies course.

I’ve just returned from an eight-day trip to Japan where I visited three major cities and had a whirlwind of educational and cultural experiences. And yes, you read that right, it all happened in just eight days.

This wasn’t a vacation. I went as part of the Global Management Studies course at Washington University’s Olin Business School. I visited several top Japanese organizations, including Bank of Japan, the Tokyo Station Hotel, L.E.K. Consulting, Japan Railway Central, Fast Retailing (Uniqlo), Toyota, Suntory, and Gekkeikan.

On top of that, the trip included countless precious cultural experiences: a traditional tea ceremony, dinner on a Yakata Bune boat, a ride on the bullet train, and zen meditation. In addition, we traipsed around the Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto wearing a traditional kimono, visited Fushimi Inari Taisha and Osaka Castle, and enjoyed plenty of karaoke.

Thanks to the spectacular team of Olin students who led the trip, I had the time of my life and learned more than I could have imagined.

Risa Tawase learning how to be a conductor on the Japanese bullet train.

Risa Tawase learning how to be
a conductor on the Japanese bullet train.

Not only do I have endless memories to take away from this trip, I have gained concrete insights I can immediately apply to my life and work. These learnings come from both the experiences and the people I met during my journey through Japan.


A Japanese term that signifies the unique, detail-oriented, customized hospitality practiced in Japan. Omotenashi became evident when I visited the Tokyo Station Hotel. When a guest arrives for their stay, the staff will take special care to learn about their likes and needs, and will cater service to each individual guest, providing special arrangements and gifts.

Furthermore, all guests complete a feedback form upon checkout where comments are put into real action to help improve the hotel and guest experience. They are really listening and acting on guest insights and requests.

In addition, the concept of omotenashi is about offering the best possible service without the expectation of a reward. Providing a high level of customized service is simply expected. In fact, tips are not customary in Japan.

Paulina Owens and Beverly Pagone at the Ryokan, a traditional Japanese hotel.

Paulina Owens and Beverly Pagone at the
Ryokan, a traditional Japanese hotel.

Seeing this principle in action reinforced the importance of listening to the needs of my client. It’s important to not only ask for feedback on my performance, but to act on feedback I receive. And that is exactly where I intend to focus more in my current role.


One thing our group focused on while in Japan was being strictly on time for all our appointments, which, of course, in Japan means being at least 15 minutes early. People’s time is something to be respected in Japanese culture. This concept was clear during our visit to Japan Railway Central, which operates with an average train delay of under a minute.

If a train is scheduled to arrive at 3:02 p.m., it will be there right on time, so you had better be on time, too. This almost certain punctuality helps everything run smoothly and problem free. It is one of the reasons we were able to pack so many amazing experiences in such a limited time. More focus on consistent punctuality is definitely something I would like to bring back with me and apply to my work life.


Japanese culture is detail-oriented to say the least. Every facet of life is well thought out. From my hotel room key, which turned on the lights in the room, to the seamless public transit system, which just works, and will take you anywhere you need to go at low cost.

This attention to detail is expressed in their business analysis, where errors and issues are tracked to the root cause, allowing targeted improvements to be executed. This concept came through during our visit to Toyota.

The production line has what is called an “andon cord” running along the entire length, which any worker can pull to alert others of an issue that needs immediate attention, preventing a chain reaction. I plan to take a page out of the Japanese book and bring a closer focus on the details, because small things can make a big difference.


Maintaining omotenashi, strict punctuality, and attention to detail makes for hard work and long hours. But Japanese culture balances all this hard work with some fun and relaxation as well.

I got a taste of this balance during our calming zen meditation experience and the fun-filled nights of karaoke. Not to mention the ultra relaxing onsen hot spring baths, where we had the pleasure of experiencing a stay at a traditional Japanese hotel, or Ryokan.

These traditions offer an oasis and balance to an otherwise work-filled, timetabled schedule. I intend to incorporate this balance into my daily life, because all work and no play makes for a dull life.

Ichi-go ichi-e

This literally translates to “one time, one meeting,” and became one of the favorite phrases learned on the trip. It is traditionally said at the close of a tea ceremony to signify the fact that this one tea ceremony will never happen again at the same time, or in the same way.

It is a way to honor the moment and remember that it is precious and unique. Every moment is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and should be respected, treasured, and cherished. This phrase will continue to serve for me as a constant reminder to live in the present moment and live my life to the fullest.

Applying to work as well, if you are present and performing at your best, you will be able to reach your full potential and do your best work. This is one of my favorite takeaways from the trip.

I started the Global Management Studies course with a limited knowledge of Japan and Japanese culture and left with a deeper understanding and insight, and some concrete takeaways that I can immediately apply to my work and life—including the concept of omotenashi, or wholehearted service, punctuality, attention to detail, balance, and living in the moment, encompassed by the phrase ichi-go ichi-e.

Pictured above: Front row: Wataru Toyohara, Kazuki Urushihara, Beverly Pagone, Camden Civello, Ariel Washington, Daniel Elfenbein. Back row: Julie Kellman, Nick Wolzniak, Jarrad Solomon, Risa Tawase, Takashi Otsuka, Sydney Miller, Elizabeth Hailand, Rachel Goldberg, Farrah Quershi, Jessica Jackson, Susie Fontana, Stephanie Fiet, Paulina Owens, Greg Brown, Robert Siedel.

Ivani, cofounded by EMBA

Justin McKinney, EMBA 45, reports that the company he cofounded, Ivani, has earned a featured spot with a global business partner at the Consumer Electronics Show, which starts today in Las Vegas.

Ivani, which develops technology that links smart devices, allowing them to detect whether people are in the room, will be a featured partner at the booth sponsored by French company Legrand, along with Marriott and Samsung. McKinney reports that he’ll be presenting Ivani’s “network presence sensing” technology and Ivani’s partnership with Legrand, the largest wiring device company in the world.

We caught up with McKinney for a quick Q&A before he headed for Las Vegas.

The news of the moment is Ivani’s featured spot at the Legrand booth at CES. What does that mean to attendees, to our readers—and to Ivani.com?

Legrand is the leader in occupancy sensing technology on a global scale. It speaks volumes that Legrand leadership believes in Ivani’s network presence sensing technology and sees this as a human sensing platform where their users can benefit from and grow with the technology.

To date, there have been few impactful advancements in the “internet of things” (technology that links everyday devices, home appliances, wearable devices, etc., to the internet). One of the primary discussions in IoT right now revolves around autonomous buildings or buildings that respond to people rather than the opposite.

This is where Ivani’s network presence sensing (NPS) changes things. NPS technology is a set of custom firmware and software packages which turns groups of wirelessly connected IoT devices like Legrand’s smart switches and outlets into advanced occupancy sensing systems without adding to or changing their hardware. Along with Ivani’s partners like Legrand, the data NPS provides can enable autonomous lighting, advanced physical security, optimized HVAC, proximity marketing and more.

What exactly does it mean to be an “occupancy sensing system”?

For the first time, occupancy sensing will be a software solution rather than a solution limited to a traditional hardware sensor, which will enable new business models like occupancy as a service. This allows the user to experience new functionalities over time through over-the-air updates.

For instance, a homeowner who has a group of NPS-enabled smart switches and outlets in their home could, with a simple update, enable motion sensing without having to add new hardware. A month later, another update could allow that homeowner to experience presence sensing (a valuable sensing capability currently not yet available on the market).

Beyond this, NPS holds the promise of counting and locating people all through software updates. These new functionalities would elevate their lighting experience, save them money on their energy bills and insurance, make their home more secure, and more.

Ivani’s partners could simply place a button in their app to activate these updates, allowing their customers to add functionality to their existing devices. This means customers can activate the functionality they want, and Ivani and its partners can share in the revenue generated by those activations.

Something else this news speaks to is the level of tech coming out of the greater St. Louis area. There is a myth that disruptive tech only comes from the coasts. Along with many other extraordinary tech companies in the area, we are hopefully changing this stereotype.

How does the company affect the everyday lives of its customers?

Ivani provides the world with innovative solutions to foster everyday sustainability. As a technology and intellectual property development company, Ivani focuses on providing our partners with cost-effective market-leading solutions to human presence detection for IoT applications. Along with my fellow co-founders, we started the company in 2014 and went through two important pivots that set us on the path we’re on now. We’ve been focused on our current technology—network presence sensing—since 2015, and we haven’t looked back.

Being a startup, we all wear many hats. The Ivani cofounders together determine strategy. As COO, I’m generally responsible for the company’s budget, marketing, business development, and overall operations. That said, I do nothing by myself and lean heavily on my co-founders and the Ivani team.

Using analytics and machine learning, Ivani turns groups of wirelessly communicating IoT products like smart switches, outlets, and lamps into advanced occupancy sensing systems without adding to or changing the hardware.

Why is NPS technology so significant? Don’t we already have things like motion detectors?

As the number of IoT devices grows exponentially, we see NPS becoming a standard because of its cost-effectiveness and the impact it can have on so many people’s lives at home, work, and in public spaces.

Occupancy data is key to making IoT devices smart. They need to sense people to respond to people. While this seems simple, it is often overlooked by many manufacturers of these products. With NPS technology, many of these devices can become truly smart, saving energy and significantly improving their user experience.

How did the name “Ivani” come about?

This is a fun story. One of our cofounders loves creative word games. After playing around with the word innovation, he came up with something we all loved as a name. Remove the words “no” and “not” from “Innovation,” shift a couple letters and voila! IVANI!

In what ways did your WashU Executive MBA influence your path toward cofounding the company?

Among other things, I was inspired by my fellow cofounders to step up my game to go for my Executive MBA at WashU. The EMBA experience has been invaluable for both myself and Ivani. It has influenced my decision making in all areas of the company, like strategy, marketing, operations, negotiations, and leadership—just to name a few. Additionally, the contacts I made during my time at WashU, both fellow students and faculty, have been very helpful with key advice when needed.

Pictured above: Ivani, cofounded by EMBA ’16 graduate Justin McKinney (inset), develops technology that can detect human presence by linking internet-connected smart devices.