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By Bethany-Angel Chijindu ’17, Master of Global Management candidate
The evening of May 16 was truly an inspiring time at Thunderbird, as students, faculty, alumni and the community gathered together on campus for the first keynote in the 2017 Global Speaker Series.
Dr. Allen Morrison, CEO and Director General of Thunderbird explored the role technology has played and continues to play in the development of humanity. He emphasized the fact that technology continues to increase at a faster speed as the years go by, and that as humans we may never catch up to the technology. This raises a lot of questions, not only for business owners but for managers and the workforce. Because if a company is to succeed and stay on top of the game, for example being listed among the Fortune 500, that company must keep its eyes not only on the current technology but on the technology of the future. Dr. Morrison illustrated this by noting how many of the top companies in the world today are new breeds of leaders that were not around 20 years ago: Companies built around technology, software and heavily dependent on big data and analysis.
As a student from Nigeria, this got me thinking of the situation back home, where many of the companies that are coming up not only in Nigeria but across Africa are created by people who are using technology in some form to solve issues and are creating value at the same time. And as Dr. Morrison said, technology has increased the rate at which globalization has occurred in this century, and has given more people access to technology and information that was not available to them previously. And its impact is clearly seen and felt in the way business is conducted, and it is changing the way things are done in so many different sectors. In Nigeria alone, this is evident in the blossoming of businesses like Konga.com, an e-commerce platform started by Simdul Shagaya; Hotels.ng, a hotel booking portal founded by Mark Essien; and Honeysuckles PTL Ventures, an Agro business with Mosunmola Umoru as its CEO. To me, this is a very positive development, despite the many challenges that come with increased and rapid technological advancement in the world.
The main challenge then is how to properly equip the workforce for this change. As Dr. Morrison noted, a lot of companies and executives admit that they don’t have the answers. Many companies don’t think long term, so even when it comes to hiring, the workforce is not trained with the future in mind. Going forward, there must be a shift and change in the mindset of leaders and people; technology is not going to slow down, so society needs leaders and people who can think strategically, and who see opportunities and figure out ways to come up with creative solutions that change the world.
In conclusion, Dr. Morrison made it clear that the world needs leaders who are not contented with sitting on the side lines, but are out in front, not only changing the mindset of their organizations but also building capability. Because what the world needs are people with excellent character, a global mindset and global management savvy. This I believe is wisdom that is needed by all who seek to make a difference in the world, and I am glad I could attend and hear these words of wisdom.
Dr. Morrison's keynote was part of the Thunderbird/Phoenix Business Journal 2017 Global Speaker Series. Visit https://thunderbird.asu.edu/gss to see the full line-up.