The Institute of Business Administration (IBA) hosted the IBA CEO Forum 2021 to discuss why it is important to bridge the gap between industry and academia and the ways to achieve it. For this panel the Executive Director of IBA, Dr. S Akbar Zaidi had invited Jehan Ara CEO & Founder Katalyst Labs and Raza Pirbhai CEO KFC in Pakistan.
Jehan Ara highlighted the importance of a strong academic foundation for a student when at university level. She highlighted that in the past universities like IBA prepared students to work in multinational companies or in large corporates. However, the pattern has changed over time with a plethora of students opting to start their own ventures or to work in innovative startups. She further elaborated on how the general consensus in the industry is that the human capital we are hiring is not up to par and needs at least 3-6 months of training which affects growth at the pace that is needed. This is primarily because the IT industry is growing at such a large scale. In this scenario, companies are searching for trained people and don’t want to go through the process of training their resources before they actually start to work optimally.
There is a lot of shifting of resources going on due to the scarcity of trained resources. Industry and academia therefore need to work together to fix this. The curriculum needs to keep evolving. Universities should play their role by providing foundational knowledge and be a source of building communities and networks. Coursera, Edx, Udemy, online free curriculum available via MIT, Stanford etc is accessible to students to upgrade their knowledge as and when they feel they need to.
Raza Pirbhai gave real life examples of this when he said that if he were hiring a marketer for his business he would look beyond his academic background and expect them to have extra skills. As the conversation progressed towards steps that could be taken to bridge this gap that exists currently, Raza highlighted how students pursuing internship at university or after university is particularly helpful. Internships allow students or graduates to gain practical experience and are exposed to the inner workings of a company.
Jehan Ara when asked by Akbar Zaidi about the role of gender in this particular area succinctly pointed out that many organisations now preferred to hire women based on merit and capability. If they wanted the competence and skill that these women possessed, organizations needed to provide facilities and flexibility that women needed to do their job alongwith handling their family and community responsibilities.
The conversation concluded with opening the floor to the attendees for questions.
While it may take several years to bridge the gap between industry & academia — it is important to acknowledge that having these conversations is integral to bringing the change that is needed!
To hear the detailed discussion watch the live session here: