Global thinkers, flexible, collaborative, empathetic, learning-oriented, with values clarity.
That’s the skill-set for the future, one that is a little different from what HBS graduates might have had on their list even a decade ago. Cultivating these personal characteristics will be more important than picking the right country, industry, or job. The first job after HBS is a platform from which to view the world of opportunities before deciding whether to continue on that path or choose another one. Clearly, economic growth is occurring in the emerging markets, developing regions might be the best site for deals, the hot new powerhouse companies from India or Mexico are acquiring staid U.S. and European companies, and large pools of capital from China and other sovereign wealth funds are investing in Western financial firms, among others. Sensitivity to diverse countries, their companies and their cultures, with more than analytics but also with human understanding, is an obvious essential. So is the ability to find opportunities in unmet needs, whether economic or social, which means underserved populations, including the poor.
There will also be a great deal of continuing change, as today’s hot emerging giant can be out-competed by unexpected players from new places and also by established companies that transform themselves by shifting employment or remaking the business portfolio. This makes flexibility essential – to be able to anticipate the changes, create them, and flow with them. And with the likelihood of political volatility in many places, attacks on global capitalism (as well as on MBAs), and uncertainty about whether global institutions will bring a measure of stability, the best defense is “values,” or active efforts to improve communities around the world –which is why leading enterprises are jumping on the corporate citizenship bandwagon.