How to Succeed in Today’s Dynamic Business World

What are the most important skills business students need to have to enter the today's workforce? Top business leaders and b-school administrators offer insights.


Shaun Budnik: [0:00] Students need to have an open, questioning mindset as they prepare for the future. A lot of disciplines now that we train our young people in are very technically focused, like accounting, for instance.

[0:40] We don't necessarily teach them to be innovative because it hasn't always been required in the past. This notion that you should prepare yourself to be creative. Think about problems, how you could change or rethink a problem entirely, instead of just doing the task. Most importantly, being agile when it comes to technology.

[1:07] It's not about learning one piece of technology, it's about knowing that you may learn about blockchain one day, but two years down the road it's going to be a different technology.

[1:18] You can't just learn one, go to class and learn one piece. You have to have this mindset of always being curious about what's going on in the world, how it's impacting you, and how can you keep learning and being open to change. That's hard for a lot of people.

Michael Arena: [1:34] One of the things that students need to double down on and focus more on is less on the technical side of things and less on the theory, and more on the what are the realities of a large, complex organization look like day to day.

[1:49] What does it look like when the theory doesn't apply? What does it look like whenever you don't have the relationships to gain adoption or gain momentum?

[1:57] For me, critical thinking, social navigation inside of a corporation, being able to build the necessary relationships in order to drive change, and being able to know when you're having the social and emotional intelligence to be able to back off of pushing your thing on someone else, and recognizing that there's a right time and place.

[2:21] It's all in the soft skills is how I would summarize it.

Tony Lee: [2:24] I fear that one of the problems is that there's a lot of students who use textbook learning as the key. If you learn these formulas, if you learn this approach to the industry, then you're going to know it. Sure, that's the core. That's the baseline.

[2:40] There's so much, again, changing that if you're not adapting, if you're not learning what the newest trends are. It's funny, I'm been in the business world for many, many years. When I first started, everybody knew what the next year was going to bring, what the next five years was going to bring.

[2:56] I can't tell you what the next six months are going to bring. [laughs] Things have changed so dramatically. By staying on top of what the latest trends are, what companies are doing, that's the only way that students are going to be able to succeed.

Dan Pontefract: [3:09] For graduates that are looking to go into the workforce or just about to graduate, let's say, here's my biggest tip for you. You will not find and enact purpose on day one in your job. Purpose is a journey, and purpose is very important purpose of self, purpose of role, and purpose of the org. You may not find it right away.

[3:28] Too many grads these days, in whatever level of the spectrum in a "B" school, they tend to think that, "OK. I've got my MBA, or I got my DBR, or I got my B Com, what have you. I can't wait to work in this next gig because it's going to be so awesome."

[3:44] Data suggests that it's not going to be awesome. If it is, good for you, good on you. Data says that it's not going to be. Don't worry. To get to purpose, you can't get there A to B, it's A to Z. Those letters in the alphabet are all journey steps into the purpose of who you are, what you're going to be, and, basically, your why.

Joseph DiAngelo: [4:06] Students today have some major challenges in front of them. First of all, most of them have no idea what they want to major in, and they shouldn't. Only 25 percent of the students graduate in a major they chose when they first come in.

[4:19] We've designed our programs so you don't start taking courses in the major area until you're a junior and a senior. First two years, everybody takes the same thing. They just think they're majoring in something.

[4:30] For students today, we tell them, "Listen. Participate. Visit with us when we take students out to companies. Find out everything you can about what's going on in the corporate community." You shouldn't know what you want to be at 17. I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. [laughs]

Filmed February 2019 at AACSB's Deans Conference in Vancouver, Canada.