For a PDF of Ragna Bell's slides, please go to the bottom of the page.
For a summary of the IBM student survey, please click here.
This event was sponsored by IBM.
DEVIN STEWART: I'm Devin Stewart from the Carnegie Council. Welcome,
everyone. Thank you so much for coming.
This is a blue-ribbon audience. In fact, there's probably as much wisdom, if not more, in the audience as there is in this incredible panel today. We've brought you people from all over the United States, many different sectors of society, to speak about "Future Leaders and Global Business Values," based on an IBM worldwide student survey of 3,500 students.
Thank you so much to IBM for sponsoring this today and for choosing us as your partner to unveil your global survey. We're looking forward to working with you in the future. This is quite an event, quite an impact.
First up we have Ragna Bell. She is an associate partner and the global lead for Strategy and Change at the IBM Institute for Business Value. She is going to be our keynote speaker today. She is going to speak for about ten to 15 minutes, unveiling today the results of this global survey of 3,500 students.
Thank you very much.
RAGNA BELL: Thank you.
I'm very excited to be here today. We are going to talk about a survey that we did, as Devin just introduced, where we spoke to and interviewed online over 3,600 students.
This is part of our ongoing research into leadership. For the last eight years we've been talking to CEOs. We always talk to CEOs face-to-face. We have half-hour to an hour conversations with them. We really talk to them about what's new, what's changing in their environment, what strategically is important to them, and how are they adjusting.
For the first time, we also interviewed online a lot of students to see what the future leaders are thinking—not just the current leaders—and to see how they compare. Do they have different views? Do they have different perspectives?
Many of the changes that we've seen over the last two years have really impacted all of us. So there is clearly some congruence in how organizations are thinking and how students are thinking.
What we are going to talk about:
- First is some of the areas where we see some consistency.
- Then we'll talk about some of the really interesting findings, that future leaders have a distinctly new and different view about this environment and their future in the business.
- Then we are going to have some recommendations about what organizations and businesses can do, and also what students themselves need to think about going forward.
Let me first spend a minute on what's really consistent. Everybody, CEOs and students, are talking to us and telling us that this new environment is much more complex, and a lot more interconnected. In fact, students felt that even more so than CEOs.
We also heard from them that CEOs and students agree that one of the most important leadership qualities for the future to manage and deal in this new environment is creativity. We were very surprised to hear that from CEOs, having just come out of this grueling recession where it's all about cost and finance. They tell us creativity is crucial. We were less surprised to hear that from students. But bringing those two together is very important.
But let's start and focus on those areas where students really stood out, where they had a very distinct view, and where they had a view that we think is very important for everybody to think about as they continue to build leadership in their organizations.
- The first area is in this more complex world about the role and the importance
of information technology insight and how do you use that to manage in this
new environment. We found students are a lot more confident with that, a lot
more focused on that, and also having a lot more optimism about how this can
create value going forward.
- The second one is really the concept of a new ethos, about a much stronger focus on globalization, everything being interconnected, social responsibility, and sustainability. They're off the charts on pretty much every question we asked them vis-à-vis current CEOs.
Those were the two key areas. I want to focus on the data that supports that and some interesting findings around them.
We asked CEOs and students: "How is this new environment different? Is it different?"
[Slide #1 is the cover slide. See Slide #2]
We found that both CEOs and students across the board told us it's significantly different. Students, even more than CEOs, told us that it's a lot more complex.
Let me give you actually a quote here. We heard from one of the students from Brazil: "Interconnection is the word of the century [and this is their century]. Almost everything in our life will be connected by technology." A lot more interconnected, a lot more multi-faceted, which is how we defined complexity as we talked to them.
On the other hand, they seemed a lot less concerned about uncertainty and volatility. When we looked at the quotes, it helped us to understand why.
[See Slide #3]
They have a lot more optimism about the power of information and analytics and insight in being able to manage and respond to this more interconnected environment.
They all grew up being terribly interconnected—terribly connected to their peers, their companies, and connected in many different ways across their universities and everywhere. That is part of their upbringing. They didn't have to learn that. That's part of their culture. So in a world that's a lot more complex and interconnected and multifaceted they feel more confidence about how organizations in the future should be able to manage that.
But at the same time this shows you the connection between experiencing complexity and having this optimism about the impact of information and the insight that it can provide to actually deal with that.
But there is also a degree of impatience, that organizations have to start making this work for them. We have more data in the world. It should be more predictable.
A student from Argentina told us: "It's high time to manipulate as much data as possible in order to understand this changing world in a better way." So an impatience about "Let's move forward. Let's do something about this. We have the tools and we have the capabilities."
Interestingly, the biggest gap when we looked at the impact of information and insight—CEOs and students pretty much agreed on how important this was across the board.
The only place there was a huge difference was in China, where the students were 67 percent more likely to focus on the importance of insight and intelligence. This might create some future challenges as those new-generation leaders come into the organization and have the expectation how you manage in this new environment.
The one area that we found over and over again—and I just want to highlight this—is they are much more focused on globalization and environmental issues across the board, every question we asked.
[See Slide #4]
For the last eight years, we have always asked CEOs "What are the three most important factors impacting your organization?" It has consistently been market factors. Now it's technology for them.
If you compare this, students are twice as likely to select globalization, more so, and environmental issues. So there is a big development here: we think we will see a massive shift also in the CEO responses over time. But we clearly have the new leaders giving us a message here.
[See Slide #5]
This shows you on a number of different counts, any question where we asked, "Where do you see the differences?"
I would really like to read out this quote because I think it encapsulates many of our thoughts about the study in just one quote: "Organizations need to start looking at the world as if they were standing on the moon. Driving innovation, managing and analyzing data, delivering value to customers all with a global view will lead to the most successful organizations."
We nearly called this study "Standing on the Moon," but we thought that nobody would really understand exactly what we mean with that and they might put it into a sort of futuristic. This is not the future. This is what they think today. But they think we need to change our perspectives.
We also found another student, from the United States, who noted that "this generation is more aware of the effects of globalization and have taken them into stride."
There is a clear view of optimism about it, of the opportunities it creates for organizations, for individuals, and of the future opportunities to address not just globalization but linking it to sustainability.
We also found that they had strong views as to the need to optimize globally. They can't just run their organizations optimized locally. And they have a much stronger view here than CEOs to optimize globally.
[See Slide #6]
The second point where they are consistently different is about sustainability. CEOs and students saw a large impact, but much more so students than CEOs. It's really about enriching a leadership style, about introducing new elements to it.
A student from France told us: "I consider economic performance and societal/environmental performance two parts of the same process of value creation. We need to rethink what value means."
They don't question, like some previous generations may have done, the underlying institutions or the underlying structure. But they do say it's got to be enriched and it's got to be more two-pronged—not either/or, but a two-pronged dimension—as they enter the workforce, what they would be expecting their organizations to deliver.
We always look at all the data by region. A very interesting difference was that on every single count North America CEOs and students were the furthest apart. There the gap between what the CEOs are thinking and what the students are thinking is very far apart.
[See Slide #7]
I'm going to show you one here. This was about the scarcity of natural resources. Three times more important for students than for CEOs.
Europe similar—huge gap, not quite as big.
The only place where we see a closer connection is in China. We don't necessarily know why that is. We don't have answers for everything here. But it was very interesting that the Chinese CEOs are much higher than other CEOs and the students were closer to that. There is congruence there. They were different on an analytics, but they are clearly more consistent here.
We also want to give you the implications that students saw of what's going on here. On the one hand, they agree that there is this significantly increasing responsibility for organizations to incorporate this into their thinking, but at the same time there are different views as to the role of government in this.
A student from India said that there was much more a fear of a return to protectionism and the concept that you keep your resources within your own country because you need to manage them more effectively. Probably part of their historic experience.
On the other hand, there is the expectation of increased collaboration as the only way that you can actually address and resolve many of the situations and the issues driven by resource scarcity. We found that that was consistent. We capture here many of the quotes to give you the voice of the students that we spoke with.
Now, this has huge implications for leaders. We talked to current leaders and we talked to future leaders. We asked them: "What do you think are the three most important leadership qualities to succeed in this new economic environment over the next five years?"
[See Slide #8]
They all agree, interestingly: creativity. I mentioned this up-front. For the CEOs that surprised us more than for the students. But it's very important because it's so hard to do.
It's about breaking assumptions; it's about challenging your status quo; it's about rethinking what you do, even if it's successful. I think that's really key.
For students it is really bringing new ideas, new concepts, and moving in with that. But, once again, global thinking and sustainability as leadership issues are really rising to the top.
Let me give you one quote from a student in Japan that I thought was very interesting: "Global thinking is a must for leaders, but it must be associated with a focus on sustainability and integrity, otherwise business will be short-lived."
Japan has a very long-term view. They do see this as something they want to succeed at in the future.
[See Slide #9]
Finally, we asked them—this is maybe a little bit more sensitive—how are the universities and educational institutions doing in preparing them for this new world.
If we've just heard that sustainability and the impact of globalization are the two most important areas relative to CEOs, it was surprising to us to see that only four in ten students think their institutions are actually preparing them for this.
We talked not just to MBAs. We talked to students across all geographies, in 40 countries; we talked to students across all degree levels, undergraduate and post-graduate; and also any field of study—technology, MBA, social sciences, everything. But consistently there is a lack, in their view, as to how prepared they feel.
The other question that we found they were very concerned about—but that has maybe less to do with institutions—is that only about half feel that their organizations or the institutions that they study at prepare them to act ethically and accountably. Given how important that is in today's business, that's a real concern. I think that's something that many organizations have to think about.
Many institutions need to think about how do you incorporate that into your thinking.
Let me just leave you with a couple of thoughts here because we've got great presentations from other speakers.
Meeting the future challenges—that's why we're here—how do we do this?
- Students reflect on the urgent need to rethink business value—and I think it's enriching business value. It's not one-dimensional; it's multi-dimensional.
- Their confidence in globalization and technology shows a path forward where we will all create stronger global connections at every level—institutional, organizational, individual, public sector.
- And just one of the many things we think that all of them and all of us can do together is to inspire more creative leadership across the generations. How do we take advantage of what's coming in this really amazing new generation?
Let me end with a quote, again giving the students their voice: "My generation has a completely different view of unbounded, unlimited social connectivity, science and technology, and cultural conglomeration. This will lead to more open, interconnected ambitions."
We've got a very big agenda, and I think they are very optimistic about how they can address this.
DEVIN STEWART: Thank you, Ragna.
Now we're going to the panel part of the program. The next speakers can stay at the panel, but we're going to ask them to keep their remarks to about eight minutes so we can have time for the audience to ask questions.
Next up we have Christopher Adkins. He is director of the Undergraduate Business program at the College of William and Mary. He has worked with the Aspen Institute's Giving Voice to Values program. If I understand correctly, he also studied religious studies and philosophy in college. So welcome to your second home, Chris. Thank you.
CHRISTOPHER ADKINS: My reflections today will focus primarily on my day-to-day experience in leading an undergraduate business program.
I'm the director of the Undergraduate Business program at the College of William and Mary Mason School of Business, and so every day is pretty inspiring to work with these incredible students. They are so talented and ambitious. It's pretty exciting to see the results of the study, because they definitely resonate with what I see on an everyday basis.
I also teach business ethics as part of my role there at the university to all of the new business majors as part of their first experience. And then I do research on how do we trigger or promote ethical decision-making and sustainability decision-making.
I thought I'd just share a bit of how the current study connects with those experiences both in the classroom, outside the classroom, and from a research perspective.
There has been a lot written on Millennials over the last decade. Some have characterized them as the "me generation." I think that is far from true.
They are definitely very ambitious. They are high achieving, especially the students that we get at a school like William and Mary, where they come wanting to do great things. That's one of the things that I think never changes about college students. They are always very idealistic. It's one of those things that we love about late adolescents, that they actually do want to change the world.
One thing that I do see, though, that is different than in past generations is how multi-talented and multi-dimensional they are. They show up at the university with so many credits from high school and with so many interests and so many different paths that they could pursue. I think the challenge for them is not just picking the one thing, but it's how do they find that right combination that is going to prepare them for their life ahead.
One of the other things that makes them pretty unique is they really do look up to their parents and to leaders and they want role models. They want to be inspired. That's probably true of every kid growing up. I hope that's true for my three boys. But I do think that they are very much looking for leaders to let them be leaders and to inspire them to be leaders, and that's very important for organizations to think about.
I tend to think that at our core human beings are very much the same in many ways.
As you look at some of the latest brain research, you can see that particularly in studies of empathy. One of the things that you see very early on, even in two-year-olds or even younger, is this ability to trigger natural empathetic responses. This idea of empathy is really important to start with when we think about ethics, sustainability, and globalization.
Empathy, when you think about it, has three basic triggers:
- We typically have empathy triggered when it's someone we know well, so those in our in-group, usually our family and friends.
- We often feel empathy when we see someone who has had an experience similar to our own.
- And then we feel or trigger empathy when it's right in front of us.
One characteristic of this generation that makes them different than any other generation is how much they have seen. So if you think about the images that they have seen from very young ages, just because it's almost the screen generation—like how many screens did you see from the moment you woke up this morning to the moment you got here? All the different images actually trigger certain responses in us.
We're seeing that right now, obviously, as we see images of oil in water; and then we feel a little bit more empathy when we might see the oil-covered bird; and then we feel bit more empathy when we might actually see and hear the stories of people whose livelihoods will never be the same. Kind of building from that sort of empathetic response is really a sense of a call to action. I think that's true for all human beings.
I think, though, that for this generation it has led to a cumulative effect, which is that they do see the world as a shared planet. I really appreciate that language that is emerging. This whole idea of empathy really gets to the core of that: "It's not about me only. It's about others, it's about us being together, and can I think and feel as another."
It has been pretty exciting to watch over the last ten years as more and more students have wanted to go abroad. More than half the students at our university choose to go abroad. What I see, though, as a shift, is they don't just want to go abroad and have a great trip or go abroad and come back with some academic credits. We're now seeing this idea that they actually want to go and make a difference.
They are moved to see how other people live, and they are moved to actually say, "Well, my life could actually help alleviate this." You have definitely seen this in other generations. But as they have seen so many images when they are at home and they have seen these images experientially by going abroad, I think it does change them over time.
Where this is leading us is that as they think about their future, that empathetic reaction that they have had over these years is leading them to elevate both what they want out of life and what they want out of business, and also integrate those two things. So clearly, we've heard about work/life balance being now blurred. They actually want to have a great quality of life with a great quality of work. So the emphasis is really on meaningful work.
Some folks have said that this basically means that the Millennials want to have their cake and eat it too, that they want too much. I think it's pretty exciting and inspiring to actually think about what this might mean for the future.
As we think about what might education, business, and other organizations do to work with these leaders, I think it's really about harnessing this interconnectivity of all that they have seen and giving them an opportunity to make an impact.
When I talk to students who are thinking about coming to William and Mary, the first thing that you want to do with any new leader is inspire them. We heard that in the study.
So inspiring them to do what? Well, to, yes, develop their own goals and talents, definitely to be successful, but to think bigger than self.
And then, secondly, we need to invite them to make an impact. The most powerful message that I have found that is resonating in my conversations with students is to simply say, "Leave William and Mary different because you were here." Not "Come, sit in class, get a lot of great ideas, write a business plan, and then do it once you go out," but "Leave it different because you were here."
Organizations at every level, whether it's from their new hires, new organization, to whatever path that they're going to pursue, it really has to be about this idea of make a difference because of who you are and what you want to do or what's possible.
That might actually surprise people, in the sense that that they may say, "Okay, they're so young, they don't have the experience." Well, I would like to qualify that to say while they want to be invited to leave different, they want to be shown what's possible. So this idea of inviting them to make a difference really comes down to two core ideas: one is collaboration and one is co-creation.
Collaboration these students are very familiar with, obviously, from all the teamwork they've done ever since they were very young, to being so interconnected all the time, and how do they harness those collaborations. Companies are actually finding themselves very effective when they actually use or leverage the students' expertise in interconnectivity, particularly through social media.
But this idea of co-creation actually takes an idea that they figured out in consumer products and brings it into education and organizational development. The idea is that we would actually invite the CEO and the new hires to actually think about sharing ideas and building together.
They are still very young, and they very much want to be taught how to do things.
That leaves us at our last point, which is when they are given an opportunity to collaborate and co-create, they want to do it alongside people who they can look up to. As much as they have seen images, they need to see leaders who are going to inspire them and actually share their experience.
So as much as the Millennial idealism, optimism, and ambition could scare organizations, they should readily embrace it and say these students really do want to learn.
For education, the direction that needs to happen is there need to be new communities of collaboration and co-creation. I say communities because what often happens is it's like a pipeline—we get them from high school, we work with them at the university level or at the graduate level, and then we send them to the organizations. I'd like to see greater partnerships while these students are at the university.
So I would like to see universities and business coming together and, instead of writing case studies, I'd actually like to see us work on real-time problems that require expertise from multiple disciplines. If you remember, I said in the beginning that these students are multi-talented. They really want to bring their diverse talents to real problems.
So at William and Mary one of the things that we did is we did a course called Sustainable Commerce in the Sea for environmental study students and business students—and some students were actually both—to come together, 20 students, and work on over-fishing of the blue crab in their own Chesapeake Bay, and to actually look at it from a business, local fishermen, environmental and from a policy perspective.
They were able to actually go on a boat in the Chesapeake Bay and actually see what some of the challenges were in the over-fishing, to actually talk to some of the people, to work with anthropology, business and environmental science professors, and then to work with Darden Restaurants, the largest consumer, with Red Lobster [Restaurants], of seafood, and actually look at what this might mean.
That type of experiential education with organizations coming together with a university will give the students a taste of what it's like to do integrative problem solving, have a chance to actually collaborate with business, and actually inspire them to actually want to do this perhaps with their lives.
At William and Mary, this fall we are going to be launching a new community of collaboration on sustainability in business with our Sustainability Symposium. You'll be hearing more about that. The idea here is to really connect current business leaders who are innovating in this area of sustainability with the next generation of business leaders. We have a number of other business schools participating in that.
The more universities invite organizations in—and vice versa, the organizations inviting the universities to come together—is where we are going to have this opportunity to harness this kind of optimism towards globalization and sustainability.
DEVIN STEWART: Next up it's a real pleasure to have Jason Mangone. He has just completed his service as an infantry officer at the U.S. Marine Corps, where he led Marines in Iraq and Haiti. It's a real honor to have someone who has served his country like Jason here. He's also a Carnegie New Leader. He has led people. So you can actually ask him how to lead.
He starts up on his new job at the Council on Foreign Relations, just down the street, I believe next month. So congratulations, Jason. Can't wait to hear your remarks.
JASON MANGONE: Unlike my fellow panelists, I'm in my 20s, and I wouldn't really consider myself an expert in any field. I don't have experience in the business world. I do have experience, however, as a member of the Millennial generation. I also have experience as a veteran of this generation's wars. I'm going to answer these questions then on the basis solely of my experience.
I'll talk mostly about my understanding of my generation and a little bit about my generation's veterans and how we fit into everything.
I was asked to answer two questions today. The first was: Is there something unique about the current generation of new leaders? To that end I'm going to discuss globalization and complexity as well as the sustainability issue. After that, I was asked to answer: How should current leaders set us up for success? To that end I'm going to discuss ethics and incentives.
So to begin, I think that my generation, and especially its veterans, is uniquely equipped to deal with an increasingly globalized, shared, and complex environment.
According to the IBM study, students found the world to be more complex but less volatile and less uncertain than current CEOs. Additionally, students decided that globalization is the top factor that would impact organizations, while CEOs I think listed it as sixth.
I'll explain these disparities by saying that while my generation does see the world as increasingly complex and interconnected, we also accept these conditions as our baseline operating environment. These are the rules of the game to which we have grown accustomed, and we are comfortable thriving under these sometimes chaotic conditions.
In the job I used to have, I was trained to not only thrive in the face of chaos but to actually use a chaotic environment to my advantage over my adversary. In practicing counterinsurgency, which is the type of war that my generation's veteran leaders have practiced, we've gotten into some pretty intense fights, as everyone knows. However, we learned that the most important battles are often those fought over infrastructure, business, education, and civic involvement in the nations that we are fighting in.
While fighting these battles we've learned that partnership, even when your partners may be less proficient than you are, is more important than immediate success. In other words, we veterans have learned to opt for long-term success over immediate results that might look clean-cut in the press.
Just a brief anecdote. While I was in Iraq, I was in charge of 40 Marines, but I lived at a police station with about 150 Iraqi policemen. If an issue came up—IED [Improvised Explosive Device], or even something small like a petty crime—me and my Marines were trained well enough to deal with that pretty swiftly.
The Iraqis weren't quite there yet. But rather than just go and deal with the problem on our own, we would take me and two or three of my Marines and watch the Iraqis deal with it and debrief them. The point I want to get out of that is as a veteran we've learned in these wars to use collaboration to aim towards a long-term success.
In contrast to that, part of my generation's understanding of complexity has been growing up in a world where information is omnipresent and reactions to events are immediate and evolving but often short-sighted and overstated.
I think that the hazard of my generation's understanding of interconnectedness and complexity is this: We have grown so accustomed to immediacy that we run the risk of always thinking about the short term. When problems do occur, I fear that we may opt for feel-good quick solutions rather than fighting through a messy short term in favor of a quality solution focused on the long term.
Second, in answering the first question, very briefly I'm going to talk about sustainability.
Across many data points in the study students listed sustainability and environmental topics as more important than CEOs did. I see this as a really truly positive sign for my generation.
Just very simply, I feel that across both private and public sectors my generation sees the sustainability issue as our call to action. I think we see it as a challenge and our opportunity to help the Earth innovate and grow.
The second question: How can today's leaders help my generation to succeed?
I'm going to begin by talking about ethics. In a world that's this complex, talented people certainly need to be in positions of oversight. However, oversight alone is never going to be enough. The world is just too complex.
As a veteran I've learned that ethics is not a class, is not simply the thing that comes first. Ethics, rather, is part of the core culture of our nation's armed forces. Ethics is simply interwoven with every action taken and decision made on the battlefield, because it has to be.
Likewise, I think it is imperative that today's leaders, from deans of universities to the CEOs of companies, ensure that ethics is more than a course you take your freshman year or a PowerPoint you get at your corporate orientation.
Ethical action must be considered a qualifier for inclusion into your institutions and an inherent part of your collegiate and corporate cultures. It must transcend my generation's collegiate ambition and endure the realities of the workplace.
As I mentioned before, oversight in a complex world is still important. That brings me to my second question: How do we get talented people to serve?
First, civic and educational leaders must come up with a better method for incentivizing my generation's best and brightest into public service. I do not mean military service here. I mean any type of civil service.
I use the business world as an example. Banks will always pay better than government institutions do. However, getting an entry-level job at the SEC could be made to look just as prestigious as an analyst's position at a huge bank.
As an analogy, getting a lower-paying Supreme Court clerkship at a law school is arguably more prestigious than being hired at the best and highest-paying private law firms. These clerkships on the government's end are incentivized on the grounds of competition and prestige.
Likewise, on the end of educational leaders, most law schools provide loan forgiveness after a defined period of public service.
Governments must make their entry-level jobs more competitive and prestigious to try and attract more talent and schools must reward their students that select service over money.
As I mentioned before, I think the potential problem with my generation's grasp of the world is that its views on problem solving might focus more on the short term and less on the long term. Compounding that problem, in today's financial environment the word "risk" has a highly negative connotation. The fact is, though, without risk there is no growth and there is no innovation.
In closing, I think it is vitally important that today's corporate leaders encourage and incentivize my generation to take ethical risks associated with long-term goals that will drive sustained growth and innovation.
DEVIN STEWART: I think Andrew Carnegie would be proud of those remarks.
Next up is Michael Holland. He is executive vice president and group head of Edelman's New York CSR (that's Corporate Social Responsibility) and sustainability practice. His programs have won 75 awards since 2005. I hope we can give you another award today for your speech.
Michael, thank you so much for coming.
MICHAEL HOLLAND: Thanks, Devin.
Certainly I'd like to begin by thanking everyone here at the Carnegie Council—Joel Rosenthal, Devin, thanks so much. Ragna, this is great research, so I want to congratulate you and the entire team at IBM for pulling this together.
As Devin mentioned, I work at Edelman. To give you a little context to my perspective and the way that I view and thought about these questions, Edelman is a public relations agency. We are going to help companies and their brands all over the world really develop integrated marketing communications programs to try to drive results in the marketplace, how to engage with customers or consumers to drive gain.
My role within the agency is to help companies develop corporate responsibility programs. That could be the strategies and the platforms to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, as well as the programs and campaigns to activate them to drive business or brand results.
I think we can all look back over the course of probably the last five years, and we're really starting to see a tremendous shift in the importance of corporate responsibility. If we go back, say, 12 or 13 years, where we had Nike's Kathie Lee Gifford supply chain, these are really perceived by companies in the marketplace as one-off crises—damage control, spin, get to the market, make a statement, but move on. Now ethical sourcing, conflict minerals, these things in terms of how you manage or operationalize your supply chain are increasingly more important.
You think back to Enron, WorldCom—implosion of major corporations based on corruption and greed scandals. Now transparency, governance, and board independence are far more important, far more scrutinized by certainly share owners as well as Wall Street.
And then, certainly, if you look at this generation, they grew up, you think—okay, from a corporate standpoint for example, five years ago GE's Ecomagination, really redefining how a company applies both its principles and its behavior as well as its products and services to driving sustainability in the marketplace.
So if you think about driving, almost really at the same time, far greater awareness around climate change, I think about—and I'll get to it later—how this generation particularly has really grown up with the mainstreaming of environmental responsibility.
So with that context, that perspective, of what I do and how we work with our clients, I started to think about this generation—Jason talked about the two questions—and really what is different about the Millennials and what can we do.
It's fascinating to me, when I think about it really from a marketplace dynamics standpoint, the difference between this generation and previous generations.
As the study I talked about showed, and certainly what Chris had mentioned, this is a generation that has grown up with technology. It's not intimidated by technology. It has grown up with masses of information, and many times real-time information. So if you think about the complexity of growing up in that environment, it gives you the opportunities to learn and adapt and adjust far quicker.
If you think about issues being debated on blogs, people are posting issues—so there's that participation element, which is far different than any other generation. You have causes championed by not only corporations but also celebrities at a prolific rate. Whether it is Save Darfur, climate change, you name it, there are all these things that this generation was growing up with, and those things really became I think critical factors in helping shape their world view.
When I think about social media, this is something that—again, if you go back to the early days of the Web, this was all about "build it and let's hope they will come." We are going to spend massive amounts of money to try to drive traffic.
What really started to change, which was pretty remarkable, with Web 2.0 was this affiliation, the building of communities, and you saw a tremendous shift in the marketplace around going to those destinations, how to reach, connect, engage with your target audience at a location where they had defined a community or a group of people that they wanted to affiliate with or associate with.
Why is that important? Well, corporate America realized from a marketing standpoint, from an engagement standpoint, this is a better way to do it. This is the generation that really understands in a far more sophisticated way how to share information, how to co-create or collaborate.
As we were talking about before, there is a generational divide here. When you think about older generations, there's that privacy aspect, the ability to hold information, don't want to really share photos or post things. Not for the Millennials. This is a generation that's so accustomed to sharing that, to building those community groups.
If you think about how that has manifested itself out in the marketplace, just recently, over the course of the last year, you've had the American Express Members Project, Chase Community Giving, and a program that Christine, who's here with me today, and I worked on, the Pepsi Refresh project. This was all about targeting Millennials. This was all about driving engagement, activation in the marketplace, or activism, to get them to participate.
With the Refresh project or Chase Community Giving, this was about changing communities and this was about driving change on issues that matter to communities all across the country. So that is really something, when you think about how companies are operationalizing, which is a tremendous difference with this generation from previous generations.
This is also I think one of the things which really does shape the world view of this generation much different certainly than my generation. You figure these are either students that are about to enter the workforce, entering the workforce, or been in the workforce for, say, up to five to seven years.
One term that you hear time and time again is "we're in a reset world, we're in a reset economy," because of all the events of the past couple of years. So many different systems, processes, viewpoints are being challenged in a pretty profound way, which is really forcing us to rethink.
When I was on the corporate side—one of the things the study talked about was globalization; "globalization" was really a polite term to refer to the fact that we were going to move manufacturing or service jobs overseas to drive bottom-line improvement. Then we tried to find some artful way to mix in there that this is also a growth engine, we're trying to identify target markets to help us grow. So growth and productivity.
Globalization now really is being transformed. So if you think about some of the things that I was talking about before—when you think conflict minerals, that's the electronics industry, that's a luxury industry; ethical sourcing, particularly for the food and beverage industry, so much more important.
This is the generation that has grown up looking at labels. This is the generation that has grown up understanding the complexity of these issues.
So why is this important and why are things changing? Because it does matter.
When I talk to some members of my team and I talk about the mainstream, even environmental responsibility, I talk to them about how I remember the days when we paid an extra nickel for the can. They look at me like: "What are you talking about, extra nickel?" We had to incentivize people to recycle. Now if you're not recycling, if you're not taking tangible steps in your day, you're feeling like you're not contributing in some meaningful way.
So you take the convergence of all these issues, and that really in my opinion certainly creates a unique world view, a unique perspective on not only stewardship but leadership of the planet.
When I think about "Well, why does that really matter?"—so one part of my role is to help companies drive engagement, whether it's something like the Refresh project. But a lot of what we do is driving engagement with employees, because if you think about it, at the end of the day corporations want to drive long-term, sustained competitive advantage.
They're in business to drive competitive advantage, or their people come to work each day to drive competitive advantage. So access to talent, motivating and engaging those people, becomes a very critical thing.
So as I looked at some of the data that we think about in terms of why this is important, for this generation I'll read some statistics.
Eighty-eight percent of Millennials say they will choose to work for companies whose corporate responsibility values reflect their own, how they view that shared planet perspective. Eighty-eight percent is pretty profound.
Eighty-six percent in the survey went on to say that they would consider leaving an employer if these values no longer matched their expectations. Far different than previous generations.
The Kaplan Survey found that 75 percent of Millennials evaluate a firm's environmental and social responsibility records prior to choosing to go work for them. So you have access to information, but access to information leads you down the path of making an important and critical decision on where you're going to go to work.
And then, nearly 70 percent say they are aware of their employer's commitment to social and environmental causes, and 65 percent say that their employer's social and environmental activities make them feel loyal to the company.
As you know in working with companies, they want to have empowered, motivated work forces. So these viewpoints, this perspective on what this generation is really looking at, is really a wake-up call for corporations in how they look at employee engagement, how they value corporate responsibility, and how they approach environmental or social sustainability going forward.
So what do I think about the second question, "What can current leaders do?" I did sort of a snap poll around the office with some members of my team as well as other groups. I think that was pretty consistent with what other people have talked about.
The number one thing that came up was Millenials want role models.
I think what was also surprising to me is as they were saying that, I would ask them who they identify with as role models. A lot of them really felt like there was an absence of really strong leaders in corporate America as well as government.
The name that came up pretty consistently was President Obama. A lot of that was based on a platform of change that he is driving out to the country.
Again, they want to see role models: "I want to emulate. I want role models who are going to walk the walk and I want to emulate them. I want to learn from them." That's number one in terms of what current leaders can do.
Second was opportunities, to reflect or echo what both Jason and Chris had said. Opportunity—"I'm ready for the challenge. Give me the challenge. I think I can contribute right now. I believe I can add value, I can participate. I'm ready. Reward me for that and give me those opportunities and let me step up." That came as number two.
And finally, empowerment. When you think about how important it is to empower people and motivate people, when you think about the role that leaders play on any given day, certainly for this generation they really called out: "Motivate me, inspire me, and make me certainly feel like I'm a valued part of the company or the enterprise."
With that, I'll turn it back over to Devin.
I just want to again thank Joel as well as Devin and Ragna for allowing me to participate today. Thank you.
DEVIN STEWART: I had the good pleasure of meeting Ellen McGrath, our next panelist, at a panel at NYU on "The Future of Philanthropy" with Mike Edwards. Ellen did an extemporaneous speech on social enterprise and the attitudes of young leaders on-the-spot, right there, as one of the students in the audience asked her to share her wisdom about that.
She is a clinical psychologist working in New York City. She is also working at both the Wagner School and the Stern School of Business at NYU [New York University]. She is really leading up the social enterprise courses there, teaching three courses. And she just got back from China, where she brought several social entrepreneurs, had a very rich experience there, a lot of fresh insights. And finally, in January 2010 she won the Martin Luther King Jr. Faculty Award at NYU. Congratulations.
ELLEN McGRATH: Thanks, Devin.
I'm delighted to be here because of a number of things. Three of them are:
I just came off the front lines of the Millennials, because I was actually in Asia for a month with 14 people between the ages of 19 and 24. We were there for a class in global social entrepreneurship. I want to tell you a bit about that. That was a very powerful, powerful experience, which I hope many of you get involved in.
The second thing is to really thank Carnegie Council, but also IBM for doing this kind of study, because what we can say for sure, for those of us working with them—and you heard it from the panelists, they nailed it.
If you were living in the world that we live in, the kinds of things that they talked about and what they pulled up, what are they saying?
Our young people must have—it's almost programmed now into their DNA—globalization experiences, support, and skills, and sustainability. And they also need to cooperate and they need to co-create. I want to talk to you about what those actually turn out to mean.
Also I have three strains of experience that have me sitting here besides the opportunity and my love to talk about these things in open conversations.
One of them is that I do get to teach at NYU, and I am one of the really lucky people that is called an Encore, because my real job, my day job, is I'm actually a clinical psychologist in private practice in Manhattan, doing executive coaching and working with a number of these CEOs that we've talked about.
But I was asked about two years ago to teach Fundamentals in Social Entrepreneurship, which I really didn't know what it was but I thought it sounded very cool, and being an old kind of radical person who wanted to make social change and decided that you really couldn't, I thought it would be great to go try to teach that. So that grew and now at NYU we have a course called Fundamentals in Social Entrepreneurship in the fall.
We've got Advanced Social Entrepreneurs, which is project-based, in the spring. We have them do a blueprint for social change at the end. And then we have them go do it, because one of the things that you will see with this generation is they are about action and results. If you don't provide them with the means for that, you lose them. So we have them.
I have funders even. I know nothing about fundraising. All I do is I go sit on airplanes, and when people tell me they have business background and some resources, I ask them, "Have you ever heard about social entrepreneurship?"
They all say, "No." Then I say, "Well, let me tell you about our kids," and I start just talking about the projects that these kids are doing. And they give us money, which I just think is really cool.
Then I give the money to the kids, we all give the money to the kids, and we teach them all the basic skills, like how do you come up with a passionate project, how do you do a design for it, how do you do the budget that's required, how do you work through obstacles to success.
We actually now have gone global. We were requested to do that. This trip I just returned from last week was in Bali and Hong Kong and southern China and Shanghai, including being able to see some of the World Expo.
We have a team right now in Thailand, now that the civil unrest has calmed, which is with Doi Tung, which is the royal family foundation, up in the northern mountains of Thailand. We are working with them on a project for micro-financing for Thai village women, which they worked on the last time.
Then they added a fourth class, which is Advanced Practicum, which is where we are going to put these into sustainable businesses. This is all undergrad, and these are things that these people are going to be able to go do.
Now, that's one thing.
Another stream that comes, besides the private practice and the teaching, is also I have two kids, two sons. One is 24 and one is 21. So that also really informs what I'm going to say to you.
The challenge that we all face in working with our youngest generation means we have to make a fundamental paradigm shift. Listen to the things that they speak or say and the data that the IBM study generated and just think for a moment about what it actually means to you, to the way we currently do business, to the way we parent, to the way we hang out with these kids. What it means is there needs to be a very fundamental shift. I'd like to address that and include some of the comments that they made.
The first thing that might be helpful for you to know is that social entrepreneurship—and it's defined in the broadest sense of the word, because there's a big academic debate about exactly what it is which doesn't interest me in the slightest—what I'm interested in is using entrepreneurial business techniques for social impact and social change. Often it can be for-profit models and NGOs.
In our group what might be interesting to you is that they do not really believe as much in the old, traditional, not-for-profit model, because they saw too many of us burn out, burn up, turn out, turn off from that model. Many of our students have developed the most amazing business possibilities, or they're actually doing them, which are profit models with a social giveback, much like Michael's heading at Edelman.
The second thing is that in corporations our students are more interested in a corporation like his, in a corporation that actually is authentic in their giveback, not doing it for public relations purposes, which they can tell you about from several of the biggest companies in New York, and they won't go near it. They are going to go to a company that means what they say and walks the talk. So that's that whole piece of it.
The second thing is Carnegie Foundation actually came to our class. I'm not a traditional teacher anymore. I'm too old to do that. They heard about us. I'm at Wagner Graduate School but do service in Stern Business School looking at new business models. They've gone to ten top universities across the country to look at new models of how we teach Millennials. They kept hearing about our class. So they came.
I know it was a tough experience for them because it was really very different. They told us that afterwards. But they told us three things. I guess we're going to go into some book or something that they've written, hopefully not practices not to do. But this is what they saw:
- We have a level of connectivity and creativity that you have never seen. Any of you are invited to come down and see one of our classes if you like.
- They said we are three years ahead of other things that are going on because of the way that we do this, which I'll tell you about.
- And they said that this is what corporations need to be doing in terms of practice.
They said you need role models. Right. But a role model is not you bring somebody into your office and you tell them what to do, or you ask them what's going on with them and you just listen and you harvest their ideas. That isn't what they're after at all. They really want to know how to do it.
So what has happened is we've ended up—we teach the social entrepreneurship chunk—with three hour classes for the first chunk of it: current trends, current possibilities, these amazing new ideas.
But the second part is we teach the same skills that I work with executives around, which is executive coaching skills. They're life skills. We call them the "core four." They are the four most essential life skills that one needs for success professionally and personally.
They're based on amazing research that's coming out, which is one of the top trends in psychology on emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is your capacity to know your own feelings, to be able to read accurately somebody else's, to be able to communicate effectively to that degree of win/wins, and to resolve conflict. Actually the work that Christopher is doing with empathy is exactly right on with that.
What I find fascinating is when the executives come to Stern and they talk about this, they come in and they tell us all this great data, and then they kind of sneak in that they do some soft skills.
I went up to them afterwards and said, "What's so soft about the one thing that they really have to learn to succeed? I would suggest that these are hard skills now, or these are essential skills, because here's the deal: the research shows clearly that for success in the future world you are four times more successful if you develop and practice emotional intelligence skills."
That is a very different paradigm shift than the command/control business traditional structures that we've had previous to this. The Millennials that are coming in are part of this acknowledgement. That's what they're after.
So I thought I would give you the skills, the core four. It's not magic.
It's connection skills, and within that are communication skills. We call it communicating to the bulls-eye, and the bulls-eye is the win/win. IBM's study really felt like one of those.
We teach them what we call bottom-line skills, which is really where is the bottom line in something.
These kids really do not know boundaries. One of the ways we actually look at boundaries in the class is that I don't let them bring computers in. No one does that at NYU. But if you sit back in any of our lecture halls and look at what's going on on those computers, they aren't taking notes; they're on Facebook and they're on Twitter. Just sit back. Come join us at any of these. But just sit back in the lecture hall and take a look at what's actually happening.
I don't let them eat, and they have to come on time and they have to participate. Twenty-five percent of their grade is participation and attendance. There's the accountability piece. That's the boundary piece.
We teach the converter skills, how do you convert from negative mood and thought to positive mood and thought.
We're very interested in the dynamics about breakdown. We love that. The more breakdown the better, because I want these kids to be change-makers when they get out of school, when they're out of the bubble. They aren't going to be unless they know how to handle really serious conflict and breakdown and disappointment and all the realities that most of us face on a daily basis. How do we prepare them for that?
The last skill set is strategies.
To give you just a few examples of how this actually works.
We went to Hong Kong. We—not me—got to lecture at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The student who set it up thought that no students would come, because it was finals week. And it was a traditional lecture hall actually, which I don't like. I put them in circles with movable chairs because we get them to move around a lot. But we were in this traditional lecture.
I presented a PowerPoint on global social entrepreneurship. It was mostly mainland Chinese, some British, and some from South East Asia. But it was filled, and it was finals week, and these are kids whose life depends on passing those tests. It's very test-driven in China.
I had our students mixed up. As I said, there were 14 of us. They had been trained for now almost two years in our classes, because it has become a minor at NYU. So I did that. We talked about our projects.
And then I thought: This isn't going to work, what I wanted to do. It's just not going to work. What do I know about global anything really? But I can feel people and I can connect. I thought: All right.
I changed and dumped right away whatever it was that we had thought was going to be great, and I said to them, and I'm going to say it to you: "What are you doing these days with your passions? What is most passionate to you right now and how are you living it?"
Now, imagine Hong Kong Chinese. They didn't know what I was talking about. So I had to define it as "it's what you really care about so much that you can't stop doing it." They had no idea.
So we paired them with our students. There would be two or three Chinese students with our students. The room exploded. Our students were able to coach because they knew how to do it. The Chinese students were willing to be open and available.
The class stopped at 6 o'clock. And remember they have finals, so they always leave. They didn't leave.
The dean walked in as a courtesy call. She's Chinese. She had just been at Stern actually. She looked and she said, "What in the hell happened here?"
I said, "I don't know. I just know that we're doing what we do at home, at NYU."
She said, "I've never seen them like this." And she asked me on the spot to return.
So that's one—which at that point we thought we would, but now we think we have a better idea. So that was one.
The second one was we were working in southern China and we were guests of the Chinese government. They took our class around for one week, all expenses paid, to see the various things that they have in the hope that we would be a bridge for investment.
We went to a bamboo farm. We were talking about what the experience had been like. They served us rice in freshly cut bamboo.
This group was asking what eco-tourism really is and how they could bring more eco-tourists there. Their idea of that is they have gorgeous mountains and you go and you look at the mountain and that's eco-tourism.
We tried to communicate to them so many times that's not eco-tourism. It's what they've said, it's experiential, it's environmental, and it has to make a difference. You could have a big business doing this. But they didn't understand.
They gave us the bamboo. It looked like this. We started playing with it. Our boys in the group had been doing rap everywhere we went and we were attracting attention. So they started doing rhythms like this. Pretty soon they got a whole rhythm band going and they were singing and rapping. These Chinese officials were stunned.
Then, through a translator, we said, "This is what we're talking about."
It was as simple as bamboo. You build an experience and you begin to develop appreciation for something like growing bamboo and using it as a sustainable product, which many of our students are in.
The last is you learn an enormous amount. I was interested—Jason said he's not an expert because of his youth, but I was thinking I'm not an expert because of my age. I am totally open to learning from them, and I give them whatever I do have, and that's how it works. I learn so much from them. All of you can too if you're open.
We were at the Expo and the lines are three-to-four hours long to get in. They were like "No problem." So they went right up to the VIP line. I swear we talked our way into five exhibits, including the USA exhibit, by just connecting and communicating and convincing them that they really needed to let us in for one reason or another. It was very helpful.
The other thing is the students said to me, "This is so powerful."
We have decided that we are going to run our global class in Shanghai during the second week in next May.
And then they get to go out on internships. They have six different places that they can go. They can go to Thailand, Bali, the Philippines, Hong Kong, southern China, and Shanghai. They will get credit for this. That's what the speakers were telling you about, about needing to really create these things.
But here is the key. The students said to me, "Why don't you invite those executives, Ellen? They could learn from us. Let them come to our class. They want to learn about Millennials. They pay fancy consulting firms to give them this experience which we can teach them in a heartbeat. They want to learn about doing business in China. Why don't you bring them?"
So they created that. In fact, that's exactly what we're going to do the second week in May. The first trip is going to be for the executives, the second will be for our students, and we're going to put them together. It will be a co-coaching experience.
So those are the ideas I wanted to bring to you about how some of this is actually working. I would say to you make sure that you're showing how to do skills, make sure you're bringing in people with other skill sets besides the traditional corporate training, and make sure that it's connecting in a meaningful way. Then you'll actually have a great experience.
Questions and AnswersQUESTION: Mr. Adkins, this question is for you. You mentioned that my generation comes into your school multi-talented, with a diversity of experiences. I'm a junior in college and I kind of echo that experience, and my peers definitely have a wide range of experiences.
Another observation that is present in myself is that I feel that while we are multi-talented, we also don't always investigate these topics as thoroughly as we could or should. I'm curious if you agree with that observation and what the implications of that are if it's true.
CHRISTOPHER ADKINS: Education is primarily most influential to the individual and to the organization when it's experiential. So if you look at how people learn and then probably think back on how you've learned up until this point, there is something we call just simply knowledge comprehension. But in the 21st century, when you have access to the Internet, having all of that knowledge in your brain is only so helpful, and you can easily retrieve it at any point in time.
Then, if you think about all the different things you've learned over time, you kind of take it in really quickly and you lose it really quickly. Whereas in what call sometimes implicit learning, what we do day-to-day, the habitual learning, the procedural learning, is very important, as well as how does that connect to, say, your passions.
Probably the piece that is missing the most both in the classroom and then outside of the classroom, because as soon as we walk out we jump on the cell phone or on the laptop, is reflection. So when you say we don't really explore it perhaps enough, I think what's missing is just really thoughtful reflection.
Reflection can be shared. You talk to people who know you well, as well as talk to people that are out there doing exciting and inspiring things. It's really exciting when you actually can see somebody that has gone ahead and done something creative, innovative, entrepreneurial, and say, "That could be me."
We've had great success when we've brought in young alums who are out there doing exciting things. That kind of helps you through their experience to reflect on your own experience.
So I think the challenge for a lot of students whose parents have given them so many opportunities and developed so many different parts of themselves is to really try to make that choice between different things. That is how the question is often framed. I think it is actually more about how do you integrate those. That is going to continue to change as the world changes, but continuing to reflect on those.
The three themes that we use at William and Mary are: does your work engage you; does the work call you to excellence, to develop some level of expertise; and is the work ethical. Those actually come from the Harvard Project Zero research. So those three themes, the "Three Es," because that really taps into your strengths—does it engage you; excellence, developing expertise; and of course ethical—you know, the contribution is something bigger than yourself.
QUESTION: I have two things.
I think you mentioned, particularly Christopher Adkins, empathy and ethics. As somebody two generations older than any of you, I just think that that's something that we don't seem to stress in our schools today. You don't see people of quality, top people, going into the government. You see 10 percent of the population fighting the wars and everybody else being totally oblivious. It just doesn't seem that the schools are putting enough emphasis on empathy and ethics to me.
CHRISTOPHER ADKINS: I think, just to get to the first point, "integrity" is one of those words that gets tossed around a lot but most folks don't really think that much about it or quite know what it means. Students often will tell me that they define it as it's similar to that character definition: it's who you are when no one's looking. Everyone is looking these days.
The ability to know who you are, whether that's as an individual or an organization, and then do everything to your utmost ability to execute, is really key there. We've just seen a lack of that time and time again.
So I think it's interesting that the CEOs may see that that's more important, because lots of people are watching what the organizations are doing. I'm not quite sure, but I have a good reflection question to take into class, why only 37 percent of the students think that it's valuable.
I agree with you that empathy is something that more schools should think about. But if you listen to the types of things that Ellen was talking about, where people are sitting across from each other having an authentic conversation, looking, listening, that's where it begins. It begins at home; it begins in the schools. That's something that can be done through Facebook and texting, but it's really important to still have that human face-to-face piece.
ELLEN McGRATH: I want to just mention one thing, the ethics thing. It's not as academic for our kids. It's more functional and a very integrated part of the way they look at the world.
The comment you made about the schooling made me think of something. Some of you may know Bill Drayton, who's head of Ashoka, which is one of the stellar social entrepreneur giveback organizations. He will probably be nominated for a Nobel. We had tea with him about a month ago. I asked him—he's really at the heart of so many trends in this kind of thing—"Bill, what do you think is most important right now? What should we be looking at?"
He said he's absolutely convinced that social and emotional intelligence training in the primary and secondary schools is the key, that we need to be doing so much more training at earlier times just about what I'm talking about, this kind of practice and social skills.
Think about the implications in what the panelists and the research have said. Sure, these kids are more connected than ever, but at what level?
Here's one: the data shows that between 16 and 18, the current teenager spends 76 percent of their time on some kind of technology or technology tool, meaning the rest might be sleeping and eating.
How much time are they spending learning to do the very thing that they said they need, cooperation, co-creation, that kind of thing? Those are human skills and they're very complex to do. All of us in this field are very worried about that, because our kids are never more connected and never more disconnected.
I thought you might find that of value. Of course I echo that very much. I think it's absolutely essential, because that's the how-to-do-it piece.
QUESTION: I just want to commend IBM for an excellent study. I was just wondering if you plan to do a follow-up in a couple of years, five years, or down the line?
RAGNA BELL: Most likely closer than that. We've been conducting CEO studies for the last eight years every two years. That has been very successful. We had a lot of insight gained from this study. We're very excited about continuing the collaboration.
We actually have a session after this to talk to the Carnegie Council and a large number of other participants to see how we can continue the dialogue, continue the research. We don't have a study scheduled yet, but most likely yes.
DEVIN STEWART: Any concluding comments?
RAGNA BELL: One comment from my side. A friend of mine said, "This is really a generation worth getting to know." I couldn't agree more.
DEVIN STEWART: Well said.
Thank you all. The panelists were fantastic, very well behaved.