MBA CSEA London Forum: the Future of the Workplace


by Paul Schoonenberg
Aston Business School

Gareth Jones brought thought provoking perspectives around the future of the workplace during his entertaining presentation to MBA CSEA members during the London Regional Forum at The Shard last week.

Looking out from the dizzy heights of the tallest building in the European Union onto some of the very city institutions that many have blamed for the financial crisis, he brought out the age old themes of corporate reputation but with a fresh, enlightening angle. Drawing on his own experience within corporate HR across the music industry and then at the BBC, he shed light on how important it is for corporations to instill a culture of authenticity. But what does authenticity mean?

Recently, some multinational organisations seems to have lost sight of values, whether that be through scandals which undermine their organisation,  but also how employees seek more and more from a career today that stretches the ability of the multinational to provide what employees really want. Jones discussed the 47x47x47 and the 60x50x17 model of a working career but chose to exclude the 60x50x40 model altogether.

Were there generalizations here? Possibly, but the message was clear. Working lives and careers are changing, and the so-called Millennial generation may even reject some multinational corporations altogether. That’s fine, but what will replace the MNC for this new, hungry generation in their quest for both fiscal reward and work life balance?

Jones discussed the ‘Rise of Clevers’ – those who are unimpressed by hierarchy, expect instant access and immediate connection and have skills that are not easily replicated. Herein lies that true value of the Business School – we exist to encourage people to challenge themselves and to connect our students, but loss of hierarchy is surely some way off. Even the unique MBA may have to work their way up the so-called corporate ladder or work within some form of structured (or less structured) hierarchy. Jones paints an interesting picture around not only the failings of the corporation in the past but also of the future of the workplace. We as Business Schools and Corporations have a responsibility to understand, navigate and lead this workplace revolution.

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