When you look at some impossible or even crazy projects, one thing they have in common is that they are very motivating for people, who have been working on them. How would you consider cars driven by electricity when the entire automotive industry lobby is against you otherwise? (Tesla) Or privately owned space travel company? (SpaceX).
It is a similar situation when you try to connect major law firms and let them work on one project. This applies to other industries as well. Education has not changed in principle for centuries. Despite the odds, this is where I navigate my company European Centre for Career Education. But, why will we succeed? Because we can, because we have a strong foothold when it comes to global and domestic leaders, and because the idea is simply right!
What is wrong with higher education sector? It does not reflect outside world.
The problem stays the same everywhere in the world. Most of the teachers are generally people who either have not succeeded in the real world or did not have the opportunity to even try. If someone wants to teach how to do business, how to work with architecture budget, or how to defend your clients, his/her experiences learnt from books will not be sufficient. You must have the experience of practising for yourself. It is hard to earn the respect of students if you just read books written by people who might also not have even tried to apply their knowledge in the real world. If you want to prepare students for their career, you must let them get access to successful people, global leaders who already faced challenges students need to learn about. This is possible either through online education or as we do it - through short-term highly concentrated and focused program.
Learning by doing!
I have never done anything at Silicon Valley, but what I love about that environment is that every try and every fail is a learning exercise. Through trying by yourself and facing challenges, you understand deeper, gain more, and move faster than just by reading. That is why it’s important to reform education sector by letting students be in the real environment and learn about it by themselves.
As I have tried to describe, the future education cannot work without support from leading companies and institutions. By opening up to global young professional or students, these companies will get a more competitive edge, cultural understanding and access to true talents. Some of the talents have started practising outside the universities as they are doers who are not interested in devoting 5 years of their life to just study in university. We have the opportunity to work and connect students with companies such as Siemens, T-Mobile, DLA Piper, Bird & Bird, 大成 Dentons, Linklaters or Clifford Chance and many others excellent domestic firms. Or even at the beginning mentioned Tesla. I personally have huge respect for them because they do not just talk, they establish and represent trends. These leaders are those from whom students should learn. By opening to students, they also gain their own potential ambassadors for the future. It is difficult to put these leaders on one boat because they often compete against each other. Hence that is why it is so motivating to work on this ‘impossible’. What I have learned is that it just takes time. These global leaders are leaders because they often employ brightest people. The key challenge is to convince them to get out of their comfort zone and open to new possibilities. At ECCE, we have been convincing them by bringing concrete business opportunities. By growing bigger with their help, we can also bring more and more commitment and opportunities to them.
Why take care of students from other parts of the world?
To develop a business channel, you can either work on existing relationships with leading companies or build up relationships with companies which will become leaders in the future. Most of the fastest growth and more important potentials are currently not in the US or Europe, but in developing countries (incl. China where we focus). By ignoring students from these parts of the world, you might have ignored the key future markets as well. Sooner companies realise this, better for them. Unfortunately, many of them still stay local and nurture only their immediate needs by hiring and educating local employees. They ignore the fact that growth will come through next generation. Many corporations are set up in a way that they have branches all around the globe these days, while their operations are still highly local and it is hard to find ways to fit global students into their local operations. It is, however, superior importance to bring future leaders to new regions and allow them to understand how business or law is done in other parts of the world. They cannot open their full potential without this close understanding. It does not matter if global approaches of companies are unified as Apple or adjusted regionally as McDonald’s, future managers must understand clients from all parts of the world. Global education for these people should not be about only travel and professors, it must be also about local players involvement.
And the most important of all? Promises!
Once you made the promise, you should always keep your words. I remember one scene from the movie Pirates of Silicon Valley where Bill Gates negotiated successfully license agreement with IBM about operating system DOS which did not even exist at that time (Video below). It is clear that’s not a way how people should do business - to pretend you have something that does not even exist. In other words, to lie. However, what is more, important is the fact that if you lie, you must make certain that you can deliver the results at the end. This is basically why Tesla struggles these days. I do not think that problem is profitability, but it is about the capability to produce what was promised and deliver this to your partners/clients. We work closely with our partners at ECCE on an individual basis. When we have a new partner, we always assign somebody who takes care of them individually and works with them on a close relationship basis like a family. It is not easy, but all successful entrepreneurs know how important relationships are. And what about students? They need to learn it from these entrepreneurs, not books. This is what universities and professors cannot deliver.
Why will we succeed? Because we do what nobody else does and can do
Because we drive our company based on vision and not only profitability, our partners stay loyal to us even when short-term gains are small. At the end of the day, profits will always come. Partnerships and everything else must be built and forged. This is what we believe is the future of education and successful projects. Success is normally built on synergies, not beating the competition. To improve education requires work with universities, not their destruction or pure criticism. Nevertheless, you need to be stubborn and have the right vision to push it through. That is why I believe in Tesla, Apple or Amazon. These companies just came and changed the market, because they understood it and knew what is needed before anybody else. I hope we do the same with our partners in education and we are happy that these strong leaders are willing to invest in the future!
Founder at European Centre for Career Education