When my peers learn that I am in the business school, they often dismiss my discipline as crunching numbers and checking stocks in a suit. What they typically don’t realize is that business is so much more. It’s about learning how to think – asking the right questions and finding innovative answers. When reading The New York Times a while back, I came across an op-ed article that particularly struck me. As Harvard education specialist Tony Wagner stated, “The goal of education today should not be to make every child ‘college ready’ but ‘innovation ready’ – ready to add value to whatever they do.”
The key words there are innovation and value. Contending in a business world that’s undergoing such rapid transformation due to technology and globalization means it’s increasingly necessary to be able to create the change rather than simply adapt to it. As columnist Thomas L. Friedman points out in his article, the high-wage, middle-skill job is a luxury of the past. While our parents simply had to find a job, we now have to invent it. The reality of our generation is that the only high-wage job you’ll find is also high-skill, and these skills extend beyond the expected academic excellence. This revamped skillset calls for distinction in communication, collaboration, and critical thinking, in addition to an unflappable and intrinsic motivation to continue learning and take risks. Luckily enough, this skillset sounds remarkably similar to a business education.
When I thought about this new reality of my future as a businesswoman, I took my humanitarian passions into consideration and translated all of these ideas in to two words: social entrepreneurship. With that in mind, I began my hunt for some empowering female examples and soon found a brilliant advocacy organization called Women Deliver. In celebration of International Women’s Day, their voters choose the top 3 from a list of 25 social enterprises competing in the Women Deliver Social Enterprise Challenge to get their idea started with nonprofit seed funding and legal assistance. Among the top 10 winners are organizations that support computer proficiency for minority females, financial workshops for teens in poverty, maternal health care in developing countries, and so much more. Check out the link for a closer look at the amazing work done by these inspiring women.
This new reality of increased rigor may seem very daunting. In many ways, it is. But it also marks the beginning of something beautiful – doing more valuable, meaningful work than ever before. Back in grade school, we were tested on our ability to regurgitate facts back on to a piece of a paper. Now, our careers will instead be tested by our ability to address real problems with elegant and innovative solutions. The possibilities are endless; all that’s left to do is make it happen. How’s that for a number cruncher in a suit? •
Rachel Julie Huynh
The University of Texas at Austin | The McCombs School of Business
The New York Times Article
Women Deliver Social Enterprise Challenge Finalists Web Page URL