Global, inclusive thinkers will shape the future - so how do we shape them?
The economic livelihood of the planet is in turmoil: debt crisis, market instability, double-dip fears. In every government and political institution, across international conglomerates and NGOs, even among the sacred spheres of monetary and fiscal policy - what is absolutely crystal clear is that the old rules have changed. The past is no longer a good predictor of the future.
What‘s needed right now are entrepreneurial leaders who can take creative action in the face of an unknown future to bring real economic and social value to all they do. It is a daunting task for business schools, but we must train and inspire these entrepreneurial leaders to create opportunities, to bravely encounter and learn from obstacles and to incorporate this learning into what they do next. This process ─ of acting, learning, repeating ─ is what managing in uncertain times is all about.
The world needs new entrepreneurial leaders because they cultivate hope and are masters at developing opportunities and creating jobs. And jobs equal peace and prosperity. Entrepreneurship today is all about giving people the tools to make it happen.
Yet, new entrepreneurial leaders will only thrive in an environment that is global and inclusive. We cannot be U.S. centered anymore. Look at any U.S. company and you will see that the majority of sales and most profits are generated from a foreign affiliate: Exxon Mobil, GE, any big company you can think of - where are they hiring? In China, in Brazil, in India.
We tell our MBAs that we want them to be able to go anywhere in the world and succeed. Building a student population that is intentionally diverse is a vital strategy in shaping entrepreneurial leaders. An entrepreneurial leader that is the embodiment of a global, inclusive community will have the best chance of making a real difference in the world.
Stepping Out Of The Comfort Zone
MBA students need the functional skills like accounting, marketing, and strategy, but they also need to be risk takers and be willing to step out of their comfort zone. A collaborative spirit is essential to motivate a team of people anywhere in the world. Entrepreneurial leaders must also be high-touch, display high-sensitivity, and grasp a deep understanding of how to bridge cultural divides and language barriers - in other words, how to manage globally.
Take for example, Babson MBA graduate Carlos Rojas, CEO of Rotoplas, a leading company of molded rainwater tanks in Latin America. While at Babson, Rojas' classmate from India identified the need there for environmentally-friendly water tanks. Together they expanded the business to India, creating new jobs while helping to fulfill a social and environmental need as well.
Or current MBA student Kuorkor Dzani who completed an innovative and global internship in China with Standard Bank facilitating corporate relations between African and Chinese government units and companies. Her international and multi-cultural experiences at Babson allowed her to successfully build relationships for the bank with ambassadors at numerous east African countries.
Strategies for Success
In an effort to cultivate a diverse, global community, business schools are actively seeking and shaping the right kind of student community. For example, this year we have awarded six African American and Hispanic Americans with scholarships from Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT). MLT links high-potential minority MBA students to the programs and organizations that will put them on the fast track to success.
On campus, we've enlisted the super talent of rock-star entrepreneur Daymond John (founder of FUBU) as role model and motivator. John best reflects the kind of entrepreneurial drive we want our students to embrace.
We, like other MBA programs, want talented, like-minded students to join us in our quest to write an exciting new chapter in the story of diverse, socially responsible, economic prosperity.
On Oct. 28th, Babson will host Diversity of All Kinds, an event where interested candidates can live the MBA experience first-hand through business case sessions presented by FUBU creator and ABC-TV's Shark Tank host Daymond John. For more information visit www.babson.edu.
For more information about Babson's MBA program visit www.babson.edu/mba.