Traditional education is not always the best path to knowledge. Universities and colleges create curriculum within a culture designed to deliver a certain perspective.
Bias toward one approach to programming may fail to expose students to other techniques. Lack of global experience among educators reinforces the indigenous worldview.
To break out of the constraints of traditional education, India’s Infosys, an IT services company, and Argentina’s Globant, an IT software and development company, have taken different but complementary paths to acquire and prepare talent to deliver value in a global economy that increasingly demands self-direction, creativity and collaboration.
Infosys Chairman Narayana Murthy maintains the title chief mentor. In a country where students are perceived as needing some polish, Infosys ensures that all new employees find mentors.
Infosys invested in a 1.5 million-square-foot educational facility at Mysore. Some 10,000 people can reside on the campus, and up to 13,500 can attend class daily. The goal, according to Tan Moorthy, vice president of research and education, is to “help the fresh students who make the transition into the corporate world.”
Infosys knows its new recruits are technically competent. According to “Young World Rising” author Rob Salkowitz, the emphasis is on soft skills, understanding corporate etiquette and shoring up communication skills.
Infosys sees its 29-week residential program as a way of unlearning years of Indian-specific education to help employees better fit into the global context.
The program fast-tracks workers toward being globally ready and helps spread soft skills and creative thinking back into the local culture, creating a virtuous cycle that may one day eliminate the need for such a program.
Helping people unlearn bad habits isn’t the only approach. Another is to find people who didn’t fit into the education system in the first place and hire them.
College dropouts and other disenfranchised workers make good employees for companies that practice loose affiliations and have few geographic restrictions. Salkowitz said the practice is fairly common among emerging markets ranging from Turkey to Argentina.
Globant regularly practices talent discovery outside the educational pipeline. Company leaders believe their bottom-up approach to hiring and the value they create as a company is not their only role in Argentina.
The company brings people from around the world to open events designed to introduce alternative points of view and inspire creative perspectives beyond their employee base.
Guibert Englebienne, Globant’s chief technology officer, is working with MIT and other universities to help scale the company’s innovative, entrepreneurial spirit so that education will become relevant, engaging and inspiring for the next generation of learners.
Infosys’s Moorthy said a test-driven education environment is one of the biggest obstacles to creative and collaborative thinking. Salkowitz said that is precisely the kind of mental indoctrination Globant attempts to circumvent by recruiting smart people who may have followed nontraditional educational pathways.
Globally distributed alternative education systems may be a minor disruption in colleges and universities today, but as the next generation seizes the global economic stage, these new approaches to talent discovery and development may come to dominate the work experience.
Daniel W. Rasmus is a strategist and industry analyst and author of “Management by Design.” He can be reached at editor@CLOmedia.com.
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