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Future of Business Education , Gabelli100 | Oct 09, 2020 |

Academia and Industry: Working Together to Enrich Business Education

By Claire Curry

Partnerships between universities and industries yield many mutual benefits. They provide students with opportunities to put knowledge into practice and at the same time offer companies access to new pools of talent.

Panelists at the Gabelli School’s Future of Business Education conference on October 1 considered the many values of these connections as well as ways to leverage them to prepare students to succeed in tomorrow’s workforce.

“I’m a firm believer in the school of life,” said moderator Greg Minson, FCRH ’98, Global COO, MBD Real Estate at Goldman Sachs, who kicked off the conversation. “Providing our students with the ability to practically apply what they learn in the classroom is a critical part of their education. It’s one of our obligations as an industry to provide that opportunity.”

Scorpio Tankers, Inc., a shipping company that transports oil around the world, has a unique relationship with academia in that it recruits a very select group of employees. The firm, based in Monaco, employs 9,000 and 90 percent of its staff works at sea.

“The bulk of our partnerships are with maritime academies,” explained CEO Emanuele Lauro. “We offer internship programs and jobs to cadets. They come from countries where these jobs are still looked up to, like India and the Philippines,” he said, explaining that the merchant navy in the western world is sometimes viewed as a “second-tier” career.

A “Blind Scanning” Recruitment Strategy

Lauro agreed with Minson’s comment that the best education is the “school of life,” and acknowledged that students don’t necessarily have to have a 4.0 GPA to be capable and productive employees and there are many other qualities that are important. “I base my judgments on my gut feelings and personal relationships,” he said. “The first impression and human aspect are everything.”

EY uses a “blind scanning” strategy when it comes to recruitment, explained panelist Jag Chana, a marketing leader in the firm’s U.K. financial services group. “We don’t have information about schools and colleges on the CV. That’s helped in the selection process. I think it’s a more fair approach.”

All panelists concurred that getting to know a job candidate’s personality, hobbies, and interests is critical to the recruitment process and that creativity and curiosity top the list in terms of the non-academic qualities they value most.

The COVID-19 Challenge

While the COVID-19 pandemic limited opportunities for companies to host students in internships and mentoring programs this year, some found ways to navigate through.

Chana said that although her division couldn’t host Fordham students as it did in prior years, EY continued its mentoring program in the United Kingdom despite the pandemic.

“We can learn from this episode that mentoring and learning don’t stop because we’re not doing it face-to-face,” she said.

Chana has also continued to connect students with professionals in her organization who are working in the fields the students are interested in. For example, one of her mentees is interested in law, so she connected him with someone on the EY’s legal team. “He found it hugely beneficial just talking about his journey and how he got to where he was,” she said. “It gave him food for thought in terms of what direction he’s going in.”

While they did their best in a challenging situation, the executives agreed that face-to-face engagement is the ideal for mentoring students and onboarding new employees.

Balanced Partnerships

Carefully balanced partnerships between universities and companies can deliver valuable benefits to students, faculty, and industry—including practical experience, research and job opportunities, and more.

“University is a system for generating next-level faculty and widening the body of knowledge,” concluded panelist Jon Norton, managing director of Crestline Investors. “A happy byproduct is well-trained, smart people who enter the workforce.”

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