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JSOM Scholarship Breakfast Raises $124,500

Fast Company Editor Describes Challenges in Fast-Changing Business World

Dec. 4, 2014

Robert Safian

Robert Safian

Forecasting sunshine or a rainy day is much like forecasting today’s business climate. 

That’s according to Robert Safian, editor and managing director of the award-winning business magazine Fast Company

“If you look at all the variables needed to predict the weather, it’s tremendously complicated. Sometimes you can make a good forecast for the next 15 days, and sometimes you can forecast for the next couple of days, but sometimes you don’t know what’s going to happen in the next two hours,” he told an audience of about 330 UT Dallas donors, students, alumni, faculty and staff at the 2014 Naveen Jindal School of Management Scholarship Breakfast. 

“Today’s business climate, it turns out, is a lot like the weather. And we’ve entered a next two-hour era. Things are changing that fast, and we need to be that adaptable.” 

Safian spoke about lessons from some of the world’s most innovative and creative business leaders in his keynote address at the annual breakfast, which was held at the Westin Galleria Dallas on Nov. 5. The event raised $124,500, which will result in more than 60 scholarships that will be awarded in the spring semester. The event has generated more than $500,000 and funded nearly 260 new scholarship awards since it began in 2009. 

Today’s business climate, it turns out, is a lot like the weather. And we’ve entered a next two-hour era. Things are changing that fast, and we need to be that adaptable.

Robert Safian,
editor and managing director of the business magazine Fast Company

This year’s theme was innovation and entrepreneurship. 

Safian said the adaptation of social, mobile and other new technologies has fueled the pace of cultural and economic change, blurring our visibility about the future. Uncertainty about what skills will be most valued and what opportunities are worth chasing make business decisions tougher when your business may change overnight. 

“We live in a mobile, social, globally interconnected world, where the old rules of business really don’t apply anymore,” he said. “We are in a very real sense living in a time of chaos.” 

Safian defines the climate of today as the “Age of Flux,” a transition when new businesses are forcing change and nudging others out of business. For example, just a few years ago, three companies — Nokia, Research in Motion and Motorola — dominated the global cellphone market; today, he said, the market is controlled by Apple and Samsung. 

“That kind of transition in a global business on a multibillion-dollar scale is unprecedented, but in the world we’re in today, it’s not alone,” he said. 

He said those who will thrive in this environment are members of “Generation Flux,” a term he uses to describe people who embrace change, and “are not defined by their chronological age but by their willingness and ability to adapt.” 

“Purpose and mission — they are the ultimate competitive advantages in a world of flux. When so much is changing, your vision of what the future of the university is going to be, the future of your business is going to be, that is what allows you to get through all of the changes to see the place where you need to be,” Safian said. 

At the breakfast, Dr. Hasan Pirkul, Jindal School dean and Caruth Chair of Management, highlighted Jindal School growth and rankings and praised Jindal School students for their many successes, including the recent first-place win by seniors Katherine Huston and Lewis Warne in the prestigious national Collegiate Ethics Case Competition at the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona. 

Pirkul also thanked friends of UT Dallas who have helped make the school’s successes possible. 

“We have a tremendous number of friends and alumni coming back and helping us on our boards, helping us in our classrooms, helping us mentor our students and helping us provide internships and jobs for our students. Without your active engagement, we could not do what we do,” Pirkul said. 

Two graduate students who are part of the inaugural cohort class in the Startup Launch Track in the Master of Science in Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program also spoke at the breakfast. Matthew Hinson and Alejandro Jacobo told the audience they are happy they persisted with developing their business idea, despite their fears. 

“If there’s one lesson I can leave a group of innovators with today, it’s this: Spend as much time as you can possibly bear outside of your comfort zone because that’s where you learn the most and that’s where the magic happens,” Hinson said.

Media Contact: Jill McDermott, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4951, [email protected]
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected]


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