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Agile Mindsets: From College to the Boardroom

Updated: Feb 6, 2020

Are passionate, agile mindsets coming out of colleges and universities the most precious raw material employers seek, develop, and promote? Yes, to paraphrase one Chief Marketing Officer of a leading US corporation.

In a recent face-to-face sit down with MBA students, Mr. Kevin Warren provided three career tips for excelling in one's career journey based on his having excelled in C-level leadership at Xerox, UPS, on public company boards, and as a Georgetown University trustee.

Said Mr. Warren, "Companies looking to grow globally look for people who can help them do it — people who are passionate with agile mindsets, innovative ideas and diverse backgrounds." Leadership lessons he learned along the way and three key bits of advice included:

1. Make success a matter of choice.

2. Resolve to do the unthinkable.

3. Reframe change as an opportunity.

He added, "Successful companies know customer decisions and loyalty spring from interactions with people." Indeed, agile-mindset employees are a competitive advantage!

Eric Gustafson, Founder/President of Access Point Partners, has known Mr. Warren for two decades and adds, "An agile mindset that equips one's career begins in college and is usually seeded outside the college's course curriculum. Degrees are verifiable, but an agile mind requires probing. When we interview executives, we go back and explore this area."

For instance, did today's candidate or employee as a college youth proactively place themselves within organized programs, attend debates, etc. outside the classroom to hear out perspectives other than their own as 18-21 year old's? Or did they leave with only their degree?

One school with potentially fertile ground for enabling the "agile mindset" outside the curriculum is Lafayette College in Easton, PA. There, Prof. Brandon Van Dyck and a co-founding student created a debate forum and speakers program named The Mills Series to schedule a range of events offering competing perspectives for students and other guest attendees. The Mills Series funding spans supporters and alumni who are current and former entrepreneurs, consultants, and financial services and corporate executives.

It's too early to know whether Lafayette's current students, faculty, and career advisers are benefiting from such an innovative Series in support of the "agile mindset" being sought by employers. Still, it is this writer's hope for his alma mater's students - and for those employers who hire them - that this differentiated initiative has legs.

Eric Gustafson

For information on The Mills Series go to:

“He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.” John Stuart Mill


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