Next Generation Business Problems: Careers

What does a next-generation management career look like? Monash Business School Associate Professor Jonathan Matheny knows one thing: that nobody knows exactly.

“Half of the jobs of the future have not been conceived of yet!” he says. “The career of the future will be full of opportunities we can’t even understand.”

The response to this is not to throw one’s hands up in despair; it is to move ahead boldly.  People must develop skills in technical domains and areas that can be transferred most easily to the jobs of the future – like leadership and communication.

Matheny gives the example of his recent conversation with a managing partner at a major professional services firm who was describing the need to hire people with broad industry experience and the specific skills to meet immediate client needs.

“He was stating absolutely that he needed experienced candidates who can undertake professional tasks. And then, in the next breath, we were discussing the characteristics of the people he needs: people who can identify new business opportunities; those who can work effectively in a space of ambiguity; those who can communicate effectively; those who can lead change,” Matheny recalls.  

Demanding both skill sets narrows the candidate field, but the employer needed people to handle both the dynamic work environment and the risks inherent in the future.

“He was not in the least bit apologetic about being “Jekyll and Hyde” on this. He demanded both.”

The lesson, Matheny says, is that while core technical skills are vital, ambitious young managers need to continually develop highly-transferable skills also.

“Some people with years of experience think they have their careers set. They are going to be very bitter in ten years from now if they have not been continually growing into new spaces or developing new interpersonal skills. If they haven’t been growing, then they are not going to be able to continue to offer value to employers.”

The Monash MBA embodies this principle of continual growth and development in its essential structure. The key to high-level learning is to practice simultaneous work and study, and most program participants are engaged full time in their career while they pursue the program. Furthermore, they work on a series of live MBA consulting projects in a range of sectors throughout the program so that they can consciously broaden and deepen their knowledge and practice base.

“Our ethos for this next generation is that you should always be engaged both in learning and in work,” says Matheny.