The University of Chicago focuses on preparing their students for life beyond college, through rigorous academics, community engagement and programs that provide the students exposure to various workforce opportunities—professional, corporate, entrepreneurial, and so forth. One of the more intimate and impactful programs is the Executive Speaker Series. The Executive Speaker Series for undergraduates provides a small-group forum for Senior Leaders at the forefront of business to share their experience and insight with undergraduates in the College. Two of The University of Chicago’s Career Advancement programs, UChicago Careers in Entrepreneurship and UChicago Careers in Business, are helping students explore a mission-driven career in business with the Executive Speaker Series. The Executive Speakers Series for the 2015-2016 academic year focuses on the topic of “Achieving Meaning and Service in Your Professional Career”. The Series offers meaningful engagement for UChicago students with Senior Leaders whose perspective can shape and add value to their pursuit of a professional career. UChicago has 6-7 speakers presenting during the academic year, around 2 per quarter. See a quick overview of this year’s speakers, with the upcoming addition of Jay Rasulo, former CFO of Disney, to the lineup.
Run by my friend Jerry Huang, UChicago Careers in Entrepreneurship (UCIE) Senior Program Director, Nancy Schaller, UChicago Careers in Business (UCIB) Senior Program Director and Elena Danos, UChicago Careers in Business (UCIB) Program Coordinator, the Executive Speaker Series is offered through the UChicago Careers in Business, Career Advancement department. Jerry, Nancy and Elena contacted me to see if Microsoft would meet with the students to discuss the Civic Tech movement and think through how the students could become more engaged. I jumped at the opportunity.
First—University of Chicago! You may know that my daughter is a 2015 graduate of the College so our family has strong emotional ties to the University. Want to learn how to burst into tears on cue? Sit in Rockefeller Chapel, watching the incoming cohort walk down the aisle while the magnificent E.M Skinner Pipe Organ plays. Microsoft also has many civic ties to the University, which we have discussed in our previous blogs. These include the Office of Civic Engagement’s Civic Leadership Academy and the recently announced Digital Alliance with the University’s Community Programs Accelerator. Our CEO Satya Nadella is a graduate of the Booth School of Business.
Second—The Students! Smart, international in both background and focus, committed, inquisitive, willing and wanting to make the world a better place. The students’ academic focus areas included Economics, Computer Science, International Studies and “Undecided”. Our conversation started with the Civic Tech movement, what it is, how its growing and some of the key organizations in the Chicago area. We discussed how civic engagement can be the great equalizer, crossing demographic and economic artificial boundaries. But we also discussed how lack of access to broadband and digital skills training can be a huge barrier to improving one’s life and neighborhood. The students are looking for careers in public service, nonprofits and policy. They love Chicago and their questions were spot on regarding how to use open data, digital skills and public private partnerships to impact economic growth, improved education and improved public safety.
We also turned to very current topics to illustrate the point that policy and government oversight need to be balanced with the local community having a voice in what’s important and essential. We discussed the Water Crisis in Flint as an example of an underserved community not having the voice, the social media network and impact and guidance on how to be heard. After the program, several of the students inquired on how to get “started and connected” in Civic Tech and Civic Engagement. It’s inspiring to see our next generation focused on making the world and their local communities better places, and having a resource like the University of Chicago Executive Speakers Series to make those connections come alive.
Tags: Booth School of Business, Chicago, Civic Engagement, Civic Leadership Academy, Civic Tech, Community Programs Accelerator, Elena Danos, Jay Rasulo, Jerry Huang, Microsoft, Microsoft Chicago, Microsoft Digital Alliance, Nancy Schaller, Satya Nadella, Shelley Stern, Shelley Stern Grach, the University of Chicago, UChicago, UChicago Careers in Business, UChicago Careers in Entrepreneurship