Viewpoints, Spring/Summer 2016 - Sauder School of Business

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more they stay the same by


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It is said the future is built on the past. So as we consider the 100 years since UBC was founded, UBC Sauder alumni and students look toward the future of business with an inspired and diverse foundation.


Who could have predicted

careers numerous times in their

successes stem from timeless

horrific wars and a resource-

these strange statements 10

work life, while others warned

values. That’s partially a matter

draining Cold War, the 20th

years ago, much less 100?

of career “ADD.” As first year

of how a company is perceived

century brought unprecedented

Astute business leaders in 1916

BCom student Jagriti Sharma

by people, but it’s also very

improvements in productivity

understood that concepts such

said: “I will decide if I want to

much about how it treats them.

even while rearranging social

as immigration, world unrest

work for you.”)

It’s about remembering the

structures with accelerating

and increasing mechanization

speed. Agrarian labour has

would profoundly affect their

dwindled by 95 per cent in

business and society.

the developed world, even

Interestingly, those themes

as it produces more food.

are still poignant in 2016 for

Rapid improvements in

business leaders, though they

manufacturing after both world

must also consider an array

wars prompted the rapid rise,

of others: the redefinition of

and even faster decline, of the

what work “is’” must take

middle-class blue-collar worker.

into account climate change;

And in the past 35 years,

automation; globalization of

computing power has given

goods, services, labour and

us the knowledge worker, the

cash; the shift of economic

“information class.”

power to developing countries;

For right now, the speed

and an aging population.

To gain a better perspective, Viewpoints spoke to alumni and students about how they view the future of business. They—like many of us—speak of the future in time frames ranging from next month to the next decade. In a turbulent world, it is about as far as most of us can imagine.

little things as you race towards your grander goals.” Building on their management consulting experience and sources, McKinsey recently identified four disruptive forces that they see upsetting the status quo and reshaping global society in the years ahead. Technology, the rapidly aging population (and shifting priorities along with that), our highly interconnected world, and emerging economics—

of change is accelerating, and

Moreover, we should assume

A recurring theme of

its impact startles our way of

change will be faster and more

conversation was about what

which we formed our think tank

thinking. In 2016, Uber, the

disruptive than ever before.

they can control and make


world’s largest taxi company,

So when we peer into the

constant—their own values

these are the themes around

While no one of us can

owns no vehicles. Facebook,

“future of business,” we often

and, as entrepreneurs, the

answer the question, “What

the world’s most popular media

peer into an unfamiliar place.

values of their businesses.

is the future of business?”

owner, creates no content.

Their sentiments echoed

panelists were clear: In the face

Alibaba, the most valuable

our businesses and careers

those expressed recently in

of all this uncertainty, armed

retailer, has no inventory.

will be buffeted by events and

Fast Company: “Ours is a time

with our best selves and rooted

Airbnb, the world’s largest

trends we cannot foresee or

that celebrates the new, right

accommodation provider,

control. (And some intend

now. But in our enthusiasm

in values, the future is in our hands now. >>

owns no real estate. And ISIL,

to take advantage of them—

for the latest innovations and

the world’s largest terrorist

several students and new grads

start-ups, we often forget that

organization, has no country.

noted their intent to change

many very modern businesses

Of course, we realize that