Giving Back and the Circle of Life

Each year our business school hosts a series of Global Business Panels that brings together alumni with significant international experience and our freshmen Intro to Business students. Those panels took place today; there were five panels throughout the day, with each panel consisting of four alumni, and about 100 students.

It was a wonderful opportunity for our students to learn more about global business trends, international business opportunities, and to simply hear first hand what it is like and/or work outside the U.S.

Each panelist shared a memorable international experience, and one of the messages common to virtually every story was the importance of being open to new cultures and a willingness to listen.

I personally found the stories fascinating, and I hope our students recognized the value in having such a panel session. It’s one of the advantages of going to a top business school that has a strong alumni network of individuals who want to give back to their alma mater.

As I sat there listening and thinking I wish I had some of the experiences they were talking about, I realized that the panelists seemed to enjoy the sessions as much as the students.

They seem to love making connections with the younger generation. After each session I saw a couple of our more outgoing students introducing themselves to the speakers, and in many cases ending up with the speaker’s business card, and an invitation to send the person an email.

There seemed to be a sense of joy among the speakers, and to me it was proof once again that it is better to give than to receive.

It was also proof of the great circle of life. Each speaker would note that they remember sitting on the other side of table, as a student, and now 40 years later, they are back at their alma mater talking about their successful careers and serving as a role model for the next generation.

I viewed their words as a challenge to the students; someday they would have the opportunity to be on such a panel, passing on their words of wisdom. Would they be willing to do so?

I also learned a couple of new things at the panels.

First, by 2100, the population of Africa will be close to 40% of the world, and Asia will have 45%.

Second, the panelists seemed to agree unanimously that there have been some recent setbacks in the move towards globalization because of the rise of nationalism/isolationism. However, they also seemed to believe (also unanimously), that such a movement will likely be short lived.

Globalization is a reality, it is here to stay.

And globalization creates wonderful opportunities for those who want to pursue such careers, and for those who want to share those experiences.

Thank you to all of our global business panel presenters for your will willingness to speak with our students and I wish you continued success.

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