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Socially Conscious Business Leaders

This generation of millennials has grown up in a hyper-connected world. The next generation of leaders should be those who can communicate and articulate well, who can work collaboratively in a global environment and work seamlessly with virtual teams

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In today’s world of conscious economy, it has become increasingly clear that profit, sustainability and social good are not opposed to each other. We need our incoming business school graduates to view business holistically in their role as global citizens and they must be able think about long term stakeholder value as opposed to just shareholder value.

We live in a knowledge economy, in a constant state of flux. We ,therefore, need agile, adaptable leaders who are able to shift gears quickly and make decisions in the absence of complete data. There is a clear need for business schools to, therefore, focus on developing students’ critical thinking skills by offering them access to complex, multi-disciplinary problems similar to the one they are likely to face at work. Teach students how to think, rather than what to think.
This generation of millennials has grown up in a hyper-connected world. The next generation of leaders should be those who can communicate and articulate well, who can work collaboratively in a global environment and work seamlessly with virtual teams.

Organizations such as ours, need entrepreneurial talent who can spot opportunities and problem-solve. We need innovators who can come up with ideas, build a business case and “sell” or commercialize their ideas. Business schools need to nurture this mindset. We would also need to instil a mind-set to learn from failures. Perhaps, business schools need to build a course on corporate failures.

To ensure these key shifts, collaboration between corporates and business schools is necessary. Fortunately, there is an increasing focus on industry-academia collaborations for practical, hands-on experience of students. Applied skills, such as negotiation, teamwork, public speaking, leadership, and pitching ideas, too need to be tightly integrated into the B-school curriculum. We are beginning to see ‘internships for teachers’ or ‘professors in residence’ in many corporations. This helps teachers stay abreast of the needs of a corporation. Most business schools have advisory boards with senior corporate leaders to establish a strong alignment.

Certainly, business schools are increasingly building learner-centred paradigms of learning. The ethos of conscious capitalism and a purpose and values driven approach needs to be nurtured in future leaders. It is heartening that many business schools have recognized this and are now catering to students who want to make a social impact. We need more emphasis on teaching and practicing business ethics. Business outcomes or the ‘end’ does not justify ‘any’ means.

At the Piramal Group, we believe in offering young, talented people challenging roles very early in their careers. To succeed in these roles, we need management graduates who are entrepreneurs at heart, can make quick decisions, come up with ideas and work collaboratively with others. All our business decisions are driven by our purpose of “Doing Well and Doing Good” and our core values of Knowledge, Action and Care. We need future leaders able to balance business growth with social impact. Business schools have a critical role to play in shaping these leaders of the future.

Nandini Piramal is executive director, Piramal Enterprises Ltd. and heads the Human Resources function of the Piramal Group. She is also responsible for the consumer products business of the pharma-to-finance conglomerate

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.



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