Reshaping higher education in the age of talent economy

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CEU's new building

Sourcing the right talent for the job is one requirement for developing any venture, but creating the right opportunity for the right talent is something more. In a complex scenario of nurturing international talents in an educational setting CEU’s Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation created its own response for the diverse student base and project requirements the university deals with. I had a good discussion with Judit Hildegard Hajos, Executive Director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Project, Director of External Relations at CEU, based in Budapest.

Peter: You say “nurturing talent to meet opportunity is just as important as the opposite notion to nurture opportunities for meeting the talent.” What do you mean on that?

Judit: Besides talent, there are multiple ingredients necessary for success like timing, bearing of responsibility, pace, courage, integrity, smart thinking, supporting ecosystem, willpower and a bit of leap in faith. None of these ingredients are tangible therefore they are rather determined by the environment the individual’s response.” In addition, a flexible give and take and a ready to change attitude is often the right base for growth. Vibrant communities have a thing in common: the best behavior is free to be copied, the right mindset is tested and adaptable and the rest is depending on the power of the network. It is worth to be at an open organization since for any phase of development it is certain that somebody has been there, has done that or similar and ready to share the experience. In our view, complexity, diversity and boldness is celebrated for boosting creativity but only in the framework of business integrity which is amongst CEU’s core values.

Peter: And what are your actions at CEU to get there?

Judit: The talent economy is a fair economy because it is free. All lessons, examples, leads are open to anyone to follow. Students and ventures are reaching out to multiple directions according to their needs and we have the special knowledge to see what is given at the market, tapping strategic interests, almost tailor made consultations to match opportunity with talent (supply and demand) with an honest assessment of pros and cons, a clear communication respecting the multiple mentalities re valuations, that along the constant value analyses, some visible activities are also boosting opportunities, like: 1. direct access of international professors and professional staff for mentoring and sponsoring, 2. accessible market / tech / practical knowledge, 3. New York Module (students directly access trends and latest mindset on spot at NYC), 4. unique partnership agreements and the CEU iLab gives space for in-door startups – these are just a few to mention which are to be leveraged the best according to my experiences.

On the top of that, dealing with the market in a safe academic environment and testing ideas is ideal at this geography, it makes us aware of the importance of social innovation, social entrepreneurship.

Peter: How can you feed opportunities from the region to business savvy progress? Do you have a recipe?

Judit: There is certainly the choice to dare and try, a startup at our iLab called AbsoRice has a real story how to turn the CEU opportunity to reality along with Talk-A-Bot. Both ventures have been recently featured by the Hungarian Forbes as interesting case studies on “CEE ventures with a wit and some well-planned luck”. They all stem from a story of a real CEU combo including winning a NASDAQ scholarship, pursuing their MBA studies with good action learning challenges, participating at the New York Module and well using our live networks and the positive organizational support. We assume this all sounds good as a glokal strategy. (To learn more about our programs, please visit our website.)

Entrepreneurs must focus on know-how and growth to become successful. As and advice I’d like to quote Justine Musk (Elon Musk’s wife): “The world doesn’t throw a billion dollars at a person because the person wants it or works so hard they feel they deserve it. (The world does not care what you want or deserve.) The world gives you money in exchange for something it perceives to be of equal or greater value: something that transforms an aspect of the culture, reworks a familiar story or introduces a new one, alters the way people think about the category and make use of it in daily life.

Peter: Thanks a lot for your time and insights!