Stavropoulous rebuilds a brand – the boston globe mastercard ma

For nick stavropoulos, the key to managing a company in crisis has been to raise his employees’ spirits, to make them proud to go to work again.

Nick stavropoulos went to california five years ago for what seemed like the least enviable job in the natural gas industry at the time: he joined pacific gas and electric co. To rebuild its natural gas operations after a horrifying explosion killed eight people in san bruno, calif.

Now the explosion is back in the news: the criminal charges filed against the company are finally being resolved, in a lengthy trial. Another chapter will soon be closed. In the meantime, though, stavropoulos can celebrate the company’s significant strides toward his mission of making it the safest gas utility in the country.Mastercard ma

The former national grid executive said employee engagement has been crucial. Stavropoulos reached out to the unions after first joining P GE’s gas operations in 2011. The president of PGE gas operation’s has worked closely with them ever since.

Hessan sent an e-mail out to friends and business colleagues over the weekend telling them she’d be leaving her job as CEO of the startup institute this week after nearly two years there. The reason? She was a bit cryptic in her message, saying that an opportunity came her way “to contribute to a cause, leading to this november, that I feel extremely passionate about.”

Reached on the phone on monday, hessan didn’t divulge much in the way of details, although she said she considers the next step to be a “project” not a “full-time job.”

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“it’s a fun thing and it’s right down my alley,” hessan said.

Hessan has built a solid second act for herself at the startup institute, a boston-based program for those interested in working at startups, after shepherding communispace, the market research firm she led, through a sale to omnicom in 2011.

She said she hopes to be able to say more by the end of july, adding that the board of the silicon valley bank-backed startup institute has started talking with potential successors.

The november reference in her e-mail, of course, hints that hessan could be heading to a political campaign. But hessan, a supporter of hillary clinton’s presidential bid, wouldn’t confirm when asked.

“I can’t really talk a lot about it,” hessan said. “it’s related to a cause I care a lot about and I just couldn’t turn it down.” — JON CHESTO new hurdle for garage

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In the race to win the right to build a tower on the site of downtown’s winthrop square garage, steve belkin may have an extra hurdle to clear: preservationists.

The boston landmarks commission has put 133 federal st. — an office building belkin owns next door to the garage — up for review as a city landmark. The so-called blue cross blue shield building was designed by renowned midcentury architect paul rudolph, and several local architects are urging the boston redevelopment authority to reject belkin’s bid to tear it down to make way for an extra-large project on the winthrop square site. If the landmarks commission gives special protections, that could complicate belkin’s project.

Any landmarking needs mayoral approval, and mayor martin J.Mastercard ma walsh will presumably have a hand in picking a winner from among six contestants in the BRA’s winthrop square bake-off. He’s unlikely to bless belkin’s bid and later squash it with a landmarking designation.

Still, in this contest every angle matters. Justin krebs, who’s leading the project for belkin, said he hopes the BRA looks beyond the current building at 133 federal when making its choice. “we just feel like the community and public benefit (of the project) is of such greater value,” he said. — TIM LOGAN A dose of hollywood

If you’ve fast forwarded through a commercial or opted for an ad-free listening experience like spotify in the last few years, you can be confident that you’re probably keeping a marketing exec awake at night.

“it’s getting harder and harder for brands to reach their customers,” said tom gerace, founder and chief executive of skyword, a boston-based content marketing firm.Mastercard ma skyword hosted flacks from companies like mastercard, new balance, vitamix, and fedex to the westin last week for forward 2016, its annual conference offering tips on finding new business opportunities in an era of ad-blockers.

But the speaker who got the most buzz wasn’t an industry prodigy or veteran. It was robert mckee, the screenwriting guru whose workshops have been attended by writers of house of cards,” “ downton abbey,” “breaking bad,” and “ frozen,” among others. Alums of his program have a combined 60 oscars and 200 emmys.

Now, mckee is partnering with gerace to bring those storytelling skills to advertising through a series of “storynomics” seminars that are designed to help brands add some hollywood flair. It’s no longer enough to simply push a product and expect people to stay interested, they argue.Mastercard ma successful companies will find ways to tell a story about their brand that connects with the consumer.

“storynomics teaches the tenants of story craft and helps attendees apply it to business,” said mckee.

— JANELLE NANOS

Can’t keep a secret? Tell us. E-mail bold types at boldtypes@globe.Com.