A business student graduating today shall experience many professional and personal challenges as the global economic and political environment evolves.
The question is: are our business graduates — based on the curriculum and learning process that they go through at a typical business school in the country — equipped with the right skills to face these challenges?
To put things in perspective, in his State of the Union Address in 2016, Barack Obama announced the launch of the multi-billion dollar ‘Computer Science for All’ initiative aimed at empowering students from kindergarten to high school with computer science and thinking skills. He recognised coding as the new ‘basic skill’ (along with reading, writing and arithmetic) essential for economic mobility and growth.
We should expect that in the next 10-15 years, every student in the developed world will know how to code a programme. Where will that leave us if we do not keep pace?
In this context, this article highlights the areas our business students need to focus on in order to increase their relevance in the business world.
All businesses have a core value creating function: primarily production; and supplementary functions, such as marketing, finance, human resources and quality management.
These supplementary functions, which are the main focus of MBA curriculums, ultimately exist because of the core value creating function. If there is no product or service that can enhance collective public utility, the supplementary functions will become redundant.
Future entrepreneurs need to recognise that it is the growing domains that have high value and scalable opportunities, and which will generate wealth and create employment.
The trick is to understand underlying business trends. The world will change yet again over the years. There are major demographic, economic, technological and political factors at play. Globalisation is beginning to give way to protectionism.
We live in a knowledge economy; and knowledge and information are the key value drivers. Knowledge of support functions (finance, marketing, quality, supply chain) at the expense of core value creating functions — such as making a marketable widget — will not be enough anymore.
Artificial intelligence, 3D manufacturing, digital currencies, peer-to-peer markets, robotics and cyber intelligence are some of the upcoming sectors which will yet again transform the way the world functions.
As things stand, unfortunately, most of our business graduates will miss out on the opportunities prevalent in these sectors as they have neither the skills nor the business knowledge to tap into them.
However, the provision of the right combination of knowledge and skills demanded by the evolving global business environment can help Pakistani business graduates leverage their management, marketing and finance knowledge to exploit the afore mentioned opportunities.
We should expect that in the next 10-15 years, every student in the developed world will know how to code a computer programme or Smartphone application; since the USA now regards coding as a basic skill. Where will that leave us if we do not keep pace?
Information technology and computing is where the growth is, it is the blue ocean, the growth area, the frontier...and our current business graduates will have to delve into this domain to keep themselves relevant as value creators.
Published in Dawn, Business & Finance weekly, December 5th, 2016