Entrepreneurship has emerged as a must-have skill to shape and accelerate careers but requires the “spirit of a pirate” for success, says leading MIT educator Bill Aulet.
The entrepreneur-turned-teacher (pictured above centre) led 118 of the world’s brightest innovative thinkers from 35 countries through the rigors of the MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp at Gardens Point campus in March.
The highly-selective camp condensed a one-year MIT course into a week-long, action-based learning experience for budding entrepreneurs chosen from more than 6000 applicants across the world.
Participants experienced the challenges of creating a start-up in just one week, a feat that typically takes years, and did so while weathering the unfolding crisis of Tropical Cyclone Debbie.
“Entrepreneurs love a crisis as we see it as an opportunity to attack a problem and find a solution,” Mr Aulet said of the ex-cyclone that shut the campus for a day.
Since its inception in 2014, the MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp participants have collectively launched 95 new ventures and raised more than US$32 million.
“You learn to really understand how to apply the concepts for a specific new opportunity and in entrepreneurship, every good opportunity is a new one,” Mr Aulet said.
“That’s the point of innovation.”
Research by CSIRO on tomorrow’s workforce over the coming 20 years revealed Australia’s unique conditions— a ‘perfect storm’ of forces meaning job seekers are increasingly creating their own jobs.
Enter the era of the entrepreneur.
A year after leaving Brisbane in 2014 with nothing but a backpack, Australian Leanne Kemp immersed herself into London’s epicentre of financial services.
Her insurance knowledge, tech experience and business savvy led to opportunities within emerging blockchain technology; as a result Everledger was born.
“The idea was novel, a little crazy but indeed possible and two years later here I am with a global team across four continents,” Ms Kemp said.
The tamper-proof digital verification system secures records indefinitely to reduce fraud, black markets and illegal trafficking of luxury goods.
More than one million diamonds have been uploaded to Everledger, which permanently tracks a stone’s origin, colour, clarity and ownership.
The company also registers fine wine, using information about the cork, label and bottle.
Back in Brisbane for QUT’s hosting of the Times Higher Education Young Universities Summit, Ms Kemp said education and emotional intelligence were fundamental to how people were trained for the workplace.
Ms Kemp said people had a tendency to panic reading headlines like: “Will your job exist in the next five years?”.
“We shouldn’t see new technology as a threat but as an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and our environments,” she said.
Ms Kemp said a strong technical and business background had played in her favour when it came to establishing and scaling start-ups but acknowledged more need for cross disciplinary graduates.
“When you work in the tech industry and walk into a room not understanding how the engineering runs, you’re at a huge disadvantage for being able to project how you are going to grow and sell a business solution,” she said.
“It is clear, beyond learning linguistics at school, every child should be able to communicate with code.
“Both the education and court systems need to catch up on social and technology impacts and as part of this we need to embed the learning and tooling into our social fabric.”
There’s little doubt the world of work is rapidly changing. So too is the higher education sector.
A report by The Foundation for Young Australians estimates a young person today will have five career changes and an average of 17 jobs in their lifetime.
It represents a shift in focus for education institutions, with recognition to teach skills transferrable across countries, careers and industries.
Catering to the growing demands of the innovative and technology-driven global economy, QUT established a start-up incubation space to nurture the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders.
The QUT Foundry is a co-working and mentoring space which brings together student entrepreneurs, staff and alumni to support them in transforming innovative ideas into real-world business solutions.
Mr Aulet agrees the future lies in breeding a new mix of “innovative pirates” for the 21st century who also have the precision skills of a Navy SEAL.