Why, as a Scientist, I study Business and Global Affairs
“Why are you in Beijing doing a Masters at Tsinghua if you have already PhD?”
Ouch. The question is normally asked with a little jab, because I’ve clearly been in education too long for someone that doesn’t want a career in academia.
I’ll admit that I’m playing the ‘long game’, but the simple answer is that I think the sustainability of my career depends on what I will learn here and the connections that I make in this community.
It is frequently suggested that millennials (the monsters who eat avocados instead of buying homes, are killing businesses from the cereal to the oil industry, and are too socially sensitive) are habitual job-hoppers, but considering the world in which my generation has grown up, it is not surprising to me that we are driven to be multidisciplined, flexible, and open-minded.
This attitude is certainly one I empathise with. As a recent PhD graduate, one of my biggest takeaways is the benefit of collaboration and of being multi-disciplined. In a research and development environment, great things are accomplished when teams of varied but over-lapping skillsets are assembled. When their members have both expertise to share and the wider background knowledge to communicate effectively with their team members that have different expertise, these teams are particularly productive.
This observation acts as analogy for my participation in the Schwarzman programme. As I transition from an R&D role into a more business-orientated one, I must find a way to effectively communicate my scientific expertise with a new team. This means understanding some fundamentals such as business, organisational design, management, economics and public policy.
Of course, this specific programme also offers unique insights into China’s past, present, and future, connecting me with individuals and communities I would not have met otherwise. As China continues to play a leading role in science and technology innovation, such insight will only become increasingly valuable.
This year is also about interrogating what it means to be a leader. This means hearing from and speaking to global business leaders, politicians, and trend-setters, and learning how to embody their behaviours and attitudes.
Most importantly to me, my fellow Scholars form the biggest cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary network of like-minded people that I know of. I believe that it is these people who will help shape my future career as much as the formal education that I receive this year.