Gabriel Mario Rodrigues, Chairman of the Board of Directors of ABMES
“The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.” (Peter Diamandis)
To start the article today, I would like to share with you a story, from a friend of mine, engineer and director of college in Paraná, whose son was studying History at USP. Every time he met him, he came with the same litany: “My son, with History you will not have money to support your family.” The speech was always the same, until at the end of the second year the son came to his father and said he would serve him: “I just asked for my transfer to Anthropology.” The father almost fell out of his chair and did not speak for a long time. Except that the boy was a good student, hardworking and focused. It got tight in the language of his mother, who was Arab. He took courses in English, Spanish and French and everything else that appeared in his area. Graduated, he went to graduate school in Mexico and, graduating, he was invited to improve in the USA. End of story: The young man is now deputy director of history museum in Florida and famed university professor.
In fact, parents are always worried about their children’s future and the doubts are always the same:
1) With the professions becoming transformed, will going to college help in anything?
2) If higher education is bad, why not improve it? How to do this?
3) This graduate fever with the postgraduate virus is due to what? The weak (?) undergraduate courses or is the market imposing it?
4) Knowing that graduation is not enough, do you think that post-graduation will give strength to the career?
5) Is there integration between the university system and companies for curricular adequacy?
6) Are entrepreneurs, hiring professionals with postgraduate courses, satisfied or disillusioned?
7) Is it worth doing graduate studies more abroad than in Brazil?
8) With graduate studies, does the professional have more opportunities to work and get better salaries?
9) Is the cost-benefit ratio ideal? Does the cost/investment in a post or MBA outweigh the commitment or, a posteriori, does the diploma stick?
10) Do employers, via HR, know what they are hiring?
To answer, there being no research on the issue yet, we turn to Peter Diamandis.
An uneasy personality, he was one of the founders, alongside Ray Kurzweil in 2009, of Singularity University, headquartered at Nasa’s research center, which, with Google’s partnership, soon emerged as the most trendy and innovative university of executive education.
It is good to note that Diamandis had some problems, according to the critical issue that Época Negócios magazine printed on February 16, 18 (Singularity is accused of losing its soul and becoming a money-making machine, according to Bloomberg report). He came out scratched by the news but continued his career as a great visionary of business and education endeavors even when no longer ahead of Singularity, from which he turned away. But let’s see what he says:
Millions of young people and adults around the world – in addition to their parents and mentors – end up asking these questions every year. For him, graduate schools are not all the same. In noble areas such as Medicine, Engineering and Law, formal training at undergraduate level provides a critical basis, or should provide, for ethical and moral practice. However, business schools, for example, are facing a difficult business problem. The rapid rate of technological change, an expanding job market, and the digitization of education are putting an end to the traditional graduate-level business program, not only here, but around the planet.
There is no shortage of evidence to show that enrollment in full-time two-year MBA programs in the US has fallen by more than a third from 2010 to 2016, but it has not reduced their numbers.
Another sign of change began to worry news about a scheme to challenge the process of admission to undergraduate courses at highly selective colleges involving students enrolled as competition athletes. This is because students are already suing multimillion-dollar civil suits arguing that this “scheme” has devalued their diplomas or denied them a fair chance of admission to the market, even though, in school enrollment, they have undergone rigorous selections, which is not happening today. Meritocracy in the selection process, which, whatever their detractors say, ensures the quality of the course.
We are also seeing the decline of MBA holders, who for decades were the mark of upward mobility at the CEO level. Not just there, in the States, but also in Brazil. Most of the time, over the past half decade, numerous schools with MBA programs have closed their doors (and the same can happen here). In contrast, a survey of more than 170 business school principals around the world has shown that many programs are working in the red, revealing an important insight: they keep the program open because of prestige. Regardless of a person’s knowledge of graduate school, attending one of the most rigorous and elite programs in the world gives external validation to trainees.
To the outside world, an advanced degree in training is a certificate of credibility for their abilities: simply passing through the filter of a higher school means (?) having a level of skills and merit. Much of the success of these elite business programs translates directly into the cultivation of networks and unmatched relationships.
For Diamandis, “graduate schools – particularly in the upper echelon – are excellent for attracting more qualified students. From future investors to consultants, friends and prospective business partners, relationships are essential to an entrepreneur’s success.” And he adds that this is “the only trip with a return ticket.” Also remember that a post graduate program in the USA costs an arm and a leg. The interested party may never be able to pay the investment.
Importantly, the increase in startup acceleration activity suggests a greater trend: our best and brightest business minds are choosing to invest their time and effort in gaining practical experience, creating tangible value for themselves and others in instead of plunging into the theory of business school classrooms.
For Diamandis, it is necessary to create what he calls a “strike force”: an elite team of young entrepreneurs who work directly with him in all his companies, travel next to him, participate in all meetings and help build businesses that change the world. These young people are learning a trade that they want to master, under the guidance of specialists (qualified metallurgists, engineers, medical technicians, electricians and others) who have already achieved the desired result.
Thanks to the power of the internet, there are no limits to when you want to learn about any subject of investment, leadership, technology, marketing, project management, medicine, engineering, religion, philosophy, literature or the arts in general. You can access an almost endless stream of cutting-edge tools, tactics, and lessons from thousands of high-performing individuals in every field of knowledge-instantly and for free. Whenever and wherever you want, you can learn from the best in the world. Just search because you are always there. Those who seek will find.
Given this context, how is the educational system as a whole, and the traditional undergraduate programs, masters and learning models? Virtual mentoring and coaching are powerful educational forces that are here to stay.
If the university system does not perceive this paradigm shift and, together with companies, teach its students to take ownership of this abundance of data provided by the web with ethics, creativity, criticism and cooperation, it will surely lose the “rocket” of history.