I recently visited my alma mater where I received my MBA. I had a chance to meet some the newer faculty members and even ran into some of my old professors. Our conversations centered around where the program was headed and how I can contribute to the growth of the school. I was honored to be asked to come back as a guest lecturer and a mentor for our future business leaders. As I was leaving, my visit made me think about my experience, how I’ve grown since then, and was there anything I wish I would have known prior to my enrollment. As a student, I was one of the older candidates in my early thirties. I had and still believe I had a solid plan and good reasons for earning a master’s degree but I often wondered why others were pursing the same path. The obvious and most common answers are career advancement, greater earning potential, or take your business to the next level. Most candidates are hungry to learn and use their new found knowledge and skills in the market. As I reflected on the students, I got struck like a lightning bolt with a profound question – as business leaders, why are we always trying to teach and not learn. The road to improvement is not a one way street. Since most of the students are millennials, I realize they think, act, and want to conduct their business in a different and better way. Now, as I continue with my renewed relationship with my school, I am approaching my experience with a fresh perspective to learn to become a better leader, strategist, and provide a greater impact to my company and community. The MBA Candidates have become my professors and here are two key topics I need to learn from them.
MBA students are trained to critically think about problems and create solutions with limited information. Business leaders need to understand the thought process of their future employees because in reality, they are going to be the ones handling complex situations. MBA graduates have grown up in a rapidly evolving world of technology. You can be safe to assume understanding and adoption of new technology comes naturally to this generation but it also allows them to be nimble and readily adapt to the new way of conducting business.
The importance of networking in business has not diminished with the rise of technology. No matter what new method of technology that improves and creates efficiency in communication, one thing will remain: Networking will always be a priority in business. What the older generations need to learn from MBA candidates is how they prefer to contact and what does that communication look like? Relating to your future employees will be critical but it will also help you learn how to communicate with your customers and prospects with similar backgrounds.
I have come full circle from student, to teacher, and now to student again. I may be on the professor side of the podium, but my studies have just begun. If the current leaders want to take their business and careers to the next level, we better be prepared to learn from the next generation. Never stop learning.