As I sit here in front of my laptop here in the Netherlands reading this week’s article “What Happens Next,” I couldn’t help but apply aspects of the article to Carnegie Mellon University’s approach to innovation that has and will shape the university for years to come. Creativity is the bedrock of the university, with world-renowned programs in computing, cyber security, robotics, business and drama. The number of start-up companies that have been created from on-campus research is unbelievable. Even so, in today’s economies, the cost and expense of running a university is quite daunting. The competition for grant money, recruiting and retaining talented faculty and students is at an all time high. No longer is CMU competing with just other U.S. universities but instead, it is competing globally.
CMU is like any other business looking to succeed in an extremely competitive environment. A good friend of mine works for the university as a recruiter for the university. He spends his time traveling the globe searching for new and amazingly talented people to attend the various schools within the university. I always enjoy the stories that my friend tells me about his travels to recruit young talented people to the university. Similar to the emerging markets discussed in the article, my friend has traveled to China, India, Mexico, and Singapore to name just a few of his routine stops. The university has campus locations in Doha and Adelaide as well as numerous degree programs spread out throughout the globe. Prior to my leaving Pittsburgh, I always enjoyed going to my Master’s classes because it gave me the chance to meet new classmates from various places around the globe and learn more about where they came from, and where they wanted to go. CMU’s emphasis on outreach and recruitment to countries with emerging markets has positioned the university to continue grow while at the same time has helped establish itself as a global brand.
I have another friend who works on campus in the job placement department for the Tepper school. Her job is to find work for the graduates of the program. While I wouldn’t say her job is easy, the graduates she places are in high demand here in the U.S. as a direct result of the university’s reputation for turning out talented “knowledge workers.” Many of my classmates in the MIST master’s program come from countries such as India and China. In talking with them, I noted that many preferred to stay in the U.S. and work for companies such as Google, Facebook, and Oracle. In most cases, the decision is a financial one. The salaries and experience gained in working in the U.S. is more appealing to the students. That said, many noted that they would like to return to their home countries after gaining experience so that they could assume higher paying work there and apply lessons learned to the companies in their country to make those companies more innovative and productive.
The university, by positioning itself on the global market and investing in its people, has certainly succeeded in transforming itself to be successful in the 21st Century and beyond.