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Annual Middlebury College business forum to discuss "Outsourcing: Opportunity or Threat?" May 3

April 19, 2006

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? A panel of three prominent business professionals will gather on Wednesday, May 3, at 4:30 p.m., to discuss the changing landscape of United States business, particularly in regard to issues surrounding the increasingly common practice of global outsourcing. The event, part of the Professor David K. Smith Visiting Economic Lecture Series, will take place in Room 216 of McCardell Bicentennial Hall, located on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125), followed by a reception. Both are free and open to the public.
Panelists include Scott Hardy, founder of NEOS Performance Overshoe; Nick Laird, founder and chief executive officer of Global Realty Outsourcing (GRO); and Michael Zeliger, a partner in the law firm Kirkpatrick and Lockhart Nicholson Graham. Pieter Schiller, a partner emeritus at Waltham, Mass.-based Advanced Technology Partners and a member of the Middlebury College class of 1960, will serve as forum moderator.

In his recent book, "The World is Flat," Tom Friedman contends that software, the global fiber-optic network, and ubiquitous Internet access are fundamentally altering the way we live and work. On a business level, such changes are empowering companies to seamlessly collaborate and compete globally, with the practice of outsourcing as a direct consequence. Similarly, this globalization is affecting how companies conceive, launch and grow entrepreneurial enterprises; develop and secure intellectual property; operate within increasingly transparent global supply chains; and compete and collaborate for markets and customers.

During the forum, the panelists will discuss the following questions and issues:

  • Does outsourcing jobs mean outsourcing America? Or does outsourcing create more jobs than it moves offshore?
  • Will outsourcing limit the U.S.'s ability to compete, eventually eliminating jobs? If so, how do we explain the fact that outsourcing, with its efficient and competitive nature, is creating U.S. manufacturing and service sectors that are increasingly healthy and vibrant?
  • What are the implications of a "flat world" for intellectual property?

Scott Hardy, an inventor and entrepreneur, created the concept for a modern, lightweight and waterproof overshoe in 1994. Like many great inventions, the prototype was sketched on a napkin and assembled in a garage. Today, NEOS Performance Overshoes are sold around the world to commuters, adventurers and gardeners, among many others. Hardy runs his worldwide headquarters from Burlington.
Nick Laird founded GRO in 2004. The global outsourcing company currently employs several hundred people in a range of areas, including software development and back-office functions in India. Prior to founding GRO, Laird was a managing director with Capital Trust, a New York-based finance company, where he pursued investment opportunities for corporate clients. He received a bachelor's degree in economics from Middlebury College and a master's in business administration from Dartmouth College. Both Hardy and Laird have established their current companies on a foundation of outsourcing and will bring a realistic and up-to-date perspective to the discussion.
As an attorney, Michael Zeliger focuses on complex civil litigation, with particular emphasis on intellectual property litigation. He is lead counsel for numerous technology companies, including those in the fields of vibration control systems, robotics, non-woven materials, laboratory instrumentation, food processing and manufacturing.
Moderator Pieter Schiller has been actively involved in economic and business development for many years. He has been a member of the advisory board of Fresh Tracks Capital, a private equity firm based in Middlebury, since its formation in 2000.

Forum organizer and Middlebury College David K. Smith Professor of Economics Michael Claudon said, "The goal for the forum is serious, in-depth and purposeful debate and discussion. As much as possible, we'd like it to be an open, town-meeting type of event that involves everyone in the room."

Middlebury College graduates Edward Schaefer of the class of 1956, Laura Schaefer Buckley of the class of 1979, and Edward Schaefer III of the class of 1984 established the Professor David K. Smith Visiting Economic Lecture Series in honor of Professor Emeritus of Economics David K. Smith, a member of the Middlebury College Economics Department from 1950-1988. An undergraduate economics major and a member of the Middlebury College class of 1942, Smith received four graduate degrees from Harvard, including a master's in economics, a master's in business administration, and a doctorate in economics. While a professor of economics at Middlebury, he served as department chair for 15 years. 

The event is co-sponsored by the DigitalBridges2.0 Club of Middlebury College. Both the panel discussion and the reception are free and open to the public, but reservations are appreciated. For reservations or more information, contact forum coordinator MariAnne Osborne at or 802-443-5435.