A series of interviews with experienced players and experts in human resources and organizational development. Here we ask the questions to Amrit Thind, who is taking an MSc in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at ESADE Business and Law School in Barcelona. He explains what he sees as the best way to ensure career success.
MCE : In your recent experiences as a student, what are business schools NOT putting into their curriculum that you think should be on the ”MUST teach them” list?
Amrit Thind (AT): Business Schools are increasingly moving away from standardized teachings; too often students tend to only enter the professional world with a strong understanding of management principles, financial fundamentals, and the basics of large industry to assist them in their job hunt. However, what students lack nowadays is a basic ability to solve problems.
For the past decades European educational systems have spoon-fed students problems and accordingly the right solutions. Students don’t tend to make many mistakes. This needs to change. For example, the MSc Innovation & Entrepreneurship program at ESADE Business & Law School has a different approach to educating their students: The course is very much built on practical principles, providing students with an array of different problems to solve: starting an innovative new venture from scratch, for instance. This gives students the freedom to identify problems and figure out how to solve them however they best see fit. More importantly, making mistakes is a crucial part of the process.
MCE: What life/work experiences do you think that you NEED to have to become an effective people manager and respected leader?
AT: Working in teams and taking on various roles with different people is absolutely key to becoming an effective people manager and respected leader. No matter where you work, people will always challenge you. The sooner you learn to manage individuals with different personalities, backgrounds, mindsets, and working styles, the better.
Moreover, if you want to become an effective people manager and respected leader, it is also crucial for you to allow yourself to be managed by someone else in order to identify how it would be working for yourself. Reflecting on who you are and what you do is often more revealing than anything else in developing strong managerial and leadership skills.
MCE: If you could choose to spend 24 hours with any business/management guru/thinker what would be your choice and why? (Basically – who IS your hero?)
AT: I would love to spend 24 hours with the authors of Freakonomics, University of Chicago economist, Steven Levitt, and New York Times journalist, Stephen J. Dubner.
Whilst their infamous book is already a decade old, I try to listen to their podcasts on Freakonomics Radio as often as possible. They talk about incredibly interesting topics, often discussing every-day issues and unveiling unexpected results. For example, do you know what “temptation bundling” is? Or did you know that the ability to think like a child could be incredibly fruitful in idea generation and developing creativity? I would highly recommend Freakonomics Radio for anyone who is looking for some intellectual stimulation during the commute. If you don’t know where to get started pick up any of the podcast episodes. It will definitely hook you.
MCE: Despite the fact that it appears to be a young people’s world, it looks like we are going to have to work until our 70s. What’s your thinking about keeping yourself up-to-speed current and relevant in your personal career cycle?
AT: I believe there are two elements that are crucial in keeping yourself up-to-speed and relevant in your personal career: Innovation and the ability to sell - yourself and your product or service.
Innovation is key because it is what companies rely on to continually grow and stay differentiated. In fact, without innovation, corporations become arrogant and die. Therefore, staying innovative doesn’t only mean that you need to keep in touch with the modern world and technology – which is often overwhelming in and of itself. More importantly, never become arrogant and always listen to your customers. This is not just a lesson for your professional career; it is a lesson for life.
Sales are key because, ultimately, everything boils down to sales: You may have an impressive personality and skill set; you may have amazing work experience and a wonderful CV; you might have the most incredible product or service in the world. But if you don’t know how to quantify your value proposition, identify your customer, and understand their needs as well as match your solution to their needs, you will be forever stuck in the same place.
Whilst innovation and sales are important, I believe that, if we are going to have to work until our 70s, it is equally important to take a step back and breathe every once in a while. The world moves so fast nowadays. We are constantly bombarded with information and things we should do: Emails, LinkedIn, WhatsApp Messages, and Facebook notifications – it is easy to become overwhelmed. Step back and breathe – if you are going to work into your 70s, you better find a way to enjoy it.