As I work around the world with colleges and universities on how they can change their curriculum to both be more engaging to students and better develop them to be successful in the next decade – I’m frequently asked by students and parents what majors should be selected to give the best job opportunities.
Usually my answer goes like this “You should study what you are most interested in and along the way ensure you try to minor or get experience in some area that will be a good means to find a job. “
At IBM we’ve been talking for two years now about the need to develop “T-shaped” students – students who are deep in an area of expertise, but also have broad skills in a range of areas. A good example would be someone deep in engineering who has also taken some computer science and business courses, or someone deep in energy science who has some experience in public policy and IT networking. Why? Because the most challenging problems we face in building a Smarter Planet require solutions that are focused at the intersection of these fields -
- SmartGrid deployments require the intersection of energy skills, IT skills, public policy around pricing and privacy, etc.
- Smarter Healthcare requires a mix of analytics, business management, healthcare policy, and deep usage of technology to integrate medical records across systems and providers.
- Smarter Cities projects bring together leaders in transportation, civic affairs, healthcare, safety and security, energy and even smarter water and waste management. Each of these areas require experts to deploy new ways of integrating these systems to improve the quality of life in places like Rio, Sao Paolo, Mexico City, Shanghai and even New York City.
IBM has been looking across many of our Smarter Planet projects all around the globe, and one of the distinguishing factors that sets the most successful projects apart from others is the degree of creative leadership that is in place on the project. That’s right – creative leadership might be the trump factor.
Why? I think it’ s because these projects require a strong vision of “what’s truly possible” in the face of so many obstacles. Getting a network of city agencies, along with public and private leaders and stakeholders, to work together without being limited by the long list of obstacles and constraints takes strong creative leadership.
And how best to find this type of creative leadership? New research that was published by Tony Golsby-Smith in Harvard Business Review says that companies and institutions should hire students from the Humanities.
As a graduate of Saint Anselm College – a liberal arts school known for it’s great work in the Humanities – I couldn’t agree more!
Be sure to check out the article – it outlines four of the key reasons that humanities graduates are great at solving very complex problems.