PayPal CEO tells educators that future business leaders will have to "examine constantly" if the direction they're going makes sense

The chief executive offered his perspective on the changing business world during a keynote address to attendees at Rutgers Business School's Innovations in Undergraduate Business Education Conference.

Rutgers Business School hosted its second Innovations in Undergraduate Business Education Conference October 16-18 to exchange ideas about how to prepare students to be efficient workers and responsible business leaders in a dramatically changing world.

As Rutgers University President Robert Barchi said in his welcoming remarks, students being trained for the business world have to be able to analyze, to think quantitatively and to collaborate. "People in the work force in 20 years will be doing a job that doesn’t exist now," he said.

A highlight of the conference was a keynote delivered by PayPal CEO Dan Schulman, a Jersey guy whose trademark is wearing cowboy boots.

Schulman spoke more of the unprecedented change occurring in the business world that has eliminated Fortune 100 stalwarts and even the earliest Internet companies. "One after another, businesses are being upended," he said. "Technology is like a tornado."

"Linear thinking won’t work," Schulman said, "Creativity will be necessary. Business leaders will have to have an ability to look at the world in a different way and to examine constantly if the direction they’re going in makes sense."

Schulman also talked about how change is affecting how executives like himself lead. "If you have values and you don’t act on them, they’re just words on a wall," he said.

"We have a moral obligation to engage politically and culturally," he said. "What I’m trying to say to all of you is that the skill sets of future leaders will be very different and have responsibilities that go far beyond quarterly earnings."

Paypal CEO Dan Schulman with RBS deans
Paypal CEO Dan Schulman with Rutgers Business School Executive Vice Dean Yaw Mensah, Dean Lei Lei and Martin Markowitz, Senior Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs.

"What I’m trying to say to all of you is that the skill sets of future leaders will be very different and have responsiblities that go far beyond quarterly earnings."

The conference, organized by Martin Markowitz, senior associate dean of undergraduate programs at Rutgers Business School-New Brunswick, included panel discussions on job trends, innovative curriculum, talent acquisition and improving the student experience. Each panel discussion ended with a question-and-answer session with the audience.

Rutgers Business School hosted its first Innovations in Undergraduate Business Education Conference in 2015. Rutgers Business School's ability to collaborate and take a leadership role in thought leadership reflects another side of its membership in the Big Ten Conference. As members of the Big Ten, schools also belong to the Academic Alliance, a consortium of academic resource-sharing. 

Other keynote speakers at the conference spoke about new business models for 21st Century business schools and business ethics.

Eugene Gentile, director of the Rutgers Business School-New Brunswick Office of Undergraduate Career Management, moderated a panel discussion on talent acquisition among a group of veteran recruiters from Fastenal, Deloitte and Goldman Sachs.

The panelists encouraged the audience to have students initiate their career searches in the first years of college rather than waiting until junior or senior year. The earlier, students begin interacting with recruiters, the more opportunities they will have. The result will be better outcomes for students and schools.

Another panel discussing job trends and challenges to B-schools emphasized the need for students to be comfortable with data and capable of gleaning insights from data. The panel consisted of Judy Cavalieri of AT&T, William Korbich of Johnson & Johnson, Ronnee Ades of Rutgers Business School an Howard Handler of Major League Soccer.

Even as business changes and workers are required to use more technology and have problem-solving skills and able to be creative, Ades and Korbich suggested that students still need strong communication and collaboration skills.

"You can teach students presentation skills," Ades said. "You can encourage them to do case competitions and get them more experience working externally with companies, but students still need to have strong writing skills."

-Susan Todd


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