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Guest Column

Published on: Nov. 27, 2022, 7:18 p.m.
Preparing for bigger challenges
  • The capacity to learn, the urge to learn, creates a spark that must never be extinguished

By Tarun Anand. The author is chairman, Universal Business School

We are at a special moment in history. The pandemic has questioned many of our basic assumptions like self-expectations, work life balance, work from home and the effectiveness of online education. It has also reinforced many of the values which we hold dear to ourselves – like the incredible support that family, friends, colleagues and the health services, provided to help us navigate these tough times. 

There is an even more important issue that is faced by the world. The maniacal need to focus on the sustainability agenda, as Covid was just a trailer of what devastation climate change can have on the lives of millions across the world. The burden of truth is on all of us. What are we doing every day to make a small difference and contribute to this incredibly important issue, where governments, corporations, educational institutions and the society need to step up and face this together? 

The students of today are the leaders of tomorrow – leaders, who will challenge the status quo and change the business. We know that business today has failed in multiple ways. They have generated super returns and created great economic wealth, but have failed society and have failed the environment. Businesses are changing, but they are fast enough to achieve the UN SDG goals. 

To achieve this, it is critical to train the future managers with the four pillars of learning. One, the future managers have got to learn every day. It is important that you ask questions, and we hope that the spark of curiosity will never get extinguished. What is happening now is an explosion of information. Every five years the quantity of information doubles which means that you can be washed away in a tsunami of information.

To develop critical thinking and analytical skills and it is important to develop the ability to sieve the information and distinguish the critical aspects. To achieve that, it is immensely important that our students learn to constantly ask questions. The capacity to learn, the urge to learn, creates a spark that must never be extinguished.

Two – the quest for excellence. You need to work incredibility hard with dedication with the right attitude. Having a purpose makes one understand the larger picture and helps one tackle one of the most complex problems that industry and society is faced with. We are trying to build a sane, harmonious, and equitable global society. It’s a great task and we cannot do it unless we learn to do it with all our heart and soul.

The third pillar is Learning to Live Together. And, perhaps, this is the most significant one, because of a world divided by extremism. There is fundamentalism, there is fanaticism and hatred – and these are dividing societies. There have been more conflicts in the world since the end of the Second World War than there were during the war itself.

So, we have, despite all our tremendous technological brains, not yet been able to overcome the essential conflictual relationships that exist in human society – and for that, learning to live together has got to be the transmission of values. So, unless we change our attitude towards society, unless we realise that we are a part of society, and that we have a debt to society, and we have to repay that debt through our actions, we will never build a harmonious society.

  • Future managers have to pivot from being problem identifiers to being solution seekers and this mindset change will foster new business models with a purpose

And the final pillar is the value systems we need to continuously remind ourselves about. Future business managers, who want to have a successful and sustainable corporate career, must be value-driven -- whether it is ethical practices, corporate governance or learning environmental values. We cannot accept the fact that we are endowed with some divine will, so that we can destroy other species as we like.

We are also part of the evolution of life on this planet. And, therefore, the environment is part of us, we are part of the environment. We have to repay our debt to the environment. 

Future managers will have a tryst with destiny, as they stand at this moment, when the world needs leadership to solve the toughest problems our society is facing like income disparity, gender bias, diversity & inclusion, the environmental challenge and extremism which are causing fissures in our society.

We do believe that the combination of young minds with an entrepreneurial mindset will foster innovative technological solutions to serve the society and planet. Future managers have to pivot from being problem identifiers to being solution seekers and this mindset change will foster new business models with a purpose.

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