Preparing Millennials for Their Inevitable Career Changes

In this installment of the Harvard Business School Healthcare Alumni Association (HBSHAA) Q&A series, Michael Wong talks to Joseph A. DiAngelo, EdD, dean of the Erivan K. Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University (SJU), about how the school’s programs reinforce real-world lessons and prepare younger generations to deal with a career environment in flux.

Wong: In 2012, when the HBSHAA held a career panel for area alums at SJU, we opened the session by sharing a point from Heidrick & Struggles around how Generation Y are projected to have an average of 14 jobs by the time they are 38 years old.1 With ever-accelerating changes to the workforce and workplace dynamics, how are deans of colleges and universities preparing their current students and alumni to successfully navigate such disruption?

DiAngelo: As one of the longest-serving deans in the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), I have had the opportunity to visit universities around the globe. Over the past 30 years, there has been a transformation of what constitutes a business school. Business schools have dramatically changed. Even before the pandemic, the nightmare for my brethren deans and me was that the coursework and technology for freshman students becomes obsolete by the time they enter senior year. Frankly, the AACSB accreditation standards that were in place no longer served the accelerating changing dynamics between employers and employees. In 2013 and 2020, we changed the accreditation standards so that educators could update course offerings and how business schools operate. Smarter deans/faculty created innovative engagement models among hiring firms, students, and their respective universities.

As companies often demand “unicorn” consultants who somehow possess not only a specific skill set such as data analytics but also knowledge of other functional disciplines, I have seen the trend of students becoming double majors. At SJU, we have increased course offerings in subjects like data analytics and enhanced pathways for students to enter premier firms like AmerisourceBergen, the largest company in Pennsylvania and ranked eighth on the Fortune 500. Since 2007, our co-op students have been gaining coveted experience and full-time job offers upon graduation. Importantly, these co-ops are paid, not volunteer positions, and when companies like AmerisourceBergen invest in such programming, they especially help with our first-generation students, many whom can’t afford to work pro-bono jobs. AmerisourceBergen is now SJU’s largest employer of our co-op students. We have been blessed with many successful alums, including Joe Wolk ’88, EVP and CFO of Johnson & Johnson. Alums like Joe and companies like J&J also are supporting our United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Dashboard, a data analytics model that helps business schools and universities share best practices and track institutional progress toward achieving the United Nations’ 17 SDGs.

Our groundbreaking work with SAP and our accounting program also has created opportunities for our students to become SAP certified upon graduation, which has opened many paths with the major accounting firms for our students, who have a value-added accounting degree at graduation.

Our Data Analytics and Insurance programs have been nationally ranked in the top 10, and they are the fastest growing programs in our school. Our insurtech partnership with many of the major national insurance firms is transforming this area of the industry.

Finally, with major food companies such as Aramark, General Mills, Hershey’s, Mars, and Ahold/Giant, our internationally recognized Food Marketing program has been a major partner with food retailers, food service companies, and consumer product companies creating new products and new distribution supply chain models for over 60 years. We work with more than 85 food companies to find opportunities for our students and create value for the food companies.

Wong: With healthcare jobs projected to grow by 16% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations2, current SJU students appear positioned for success, but how about your Gen Y alums?

DiAngelo: SJU has made strategic bets on key sectors (healthcare, pharma, food, insurance, and data analytics) with several new initiatives, and more will soon be revealed. For instance, with our recent announcement to combine with the University of the Sciences3, we’re providing new learning experiences for jobs within the healthcare ecosystem, such as pharmacy and physician assistant roles. Every professional in the healthcare space should have some grounding in business skills. Pharmacists trained with foundational business skills will be highly sought by retail pharmacies, food retailers with pharmacy divisions, and insurance firms who are involved in the drug management space.

Our Medical Doctor/MBA has provided transformational career opportunities for medical students at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and practicing physicians at Lancaster General Hospital and Inspira Hospital. One of our cornerstone courses, Innovation in HealthCare, where doctor-students attack actual challenges facing their organizations, has generated millions of dollars in revenue or savings according to the hospital CEOs.

Our research also points to the potential growth of relatively new areas like nutraceuticals (healthy foods). As such, we’ve combined our pharma business program into our nationally recognized food marketing department to create a new learning experience for our students.

Finally, for alums, there are several continuing education programs via our groundbreaking Stackable part-time MBAs, online certifications in the latest technologies and niche areas such as biotech/life sciences, fintech, insurtech, health informatics, and other topics that are crucial for each person’s career sustainability. Our goal is to allow students to create their own career path, and to be a partner with our corporate constituents in helping them achieve their corporate goals and develop their talent. Frankly, these continuing education offerings should be on the radar for all generational groups, be they Gen X, Y, and Z or even Baby Boomers.

Appointed dean of the Erivan K. Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University in 2000, Joseph A. DiAngelo, EdD, served as the chair of the board of directors of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International, the premier international accrediting organization for business schools. He also has served on the board of The Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, a government agency that oversees the annual budget and five-year budget plan for the City of Philadelphia.

Michael Wong is an emeritus board member of the Harvard Business School Healthcare Alumni Association and served as an adjunct professor at the Erivan K. Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University.

References

  1. Kelly, L. Kevin, “Heidrick & Struggles’ Annual Report,” 2007, https://investors.heidrick.com/static-files/aec8ca14-9b55-4a28-92d7-31c04befe522
  2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Healthcare Occupations,” Sept. 8, 2021, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm
  3. University News, “Saint Joseph’s and USciences Expand Opportunities for Students With Historic Merger,” June, 9, 2021, https://www.sju.edu/news/saint-josephs-and-usciences-expand-opportunities-students-historic-merger