On Thursday evening, I attended the Inspired Leaders Network Livestream event called “Tomorrow’s University: Are degrees still worth it?“. It was hosted by René Carayol, and the purpose was to challenge business leaders whether they are really preparing the next generation for the future world of work and technology.

The panel of speakers came from a range of backgrounds who had each found their own route to success. Listening to their stories and learning who had influenced their careers sparked off some of my own reflective thoughts. It became apparent that for each person, someone had played a key role in shaping their lives and had inspired them to achieve their life goals. For some it had been a member of their family, for others it had been a friend or mentor who had supported them and guided them on their path to success. 

Inspired by my Granddad
Inspired by my Granddad

In my case, it was my grandfather (shown in the attached) who was my source of inspiration. Born to poverty in the East End of London, he joined the British Army at fourteen, travelled to India and worked his way through the ranks to eventually become the private secretary to the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia.

One key aspect emerged during the panel discussion, starting early in school our education system steers us into a career in either arts or science. We have created a tradition of intellectual apartheid embedding divisions and separating us into those who create and those who follow rational and logical approaches to solving problems. Yet, we all know that the true magic happens when you bring arts and science together? It naturally follows that we should be preparing our graduates in a more rounded and balanced way. Empowering them to be more creative in their thinking whilst having the structure and discipline to see things through.

Our future depends on equipping the next generation with the skillset to adapt and thrive within the ever more rapidly changing landscape. If our universities are not able to deliver those skills, then the next generation coming through will be looking elsewhere.