Monday, March 31, 2008

Bill Green talks competitiveness

There are two Bill Greens out there. The one most Mainers are familiar with, is the Bill Green of WCSH fame that brings us Bill Green’s Maine every Saturday evening, highlighting the unique qualities and people of the Pine Tree State.

The “other” Bill Green is the Chairman and CEO of Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, committed to delivering innovation, employing 150,000, in 49 countries (30,000 of these in the US).

One year ago, Green spoke before the Senate’s Committee on Finance, about the key role that education plays in global competitiveness. He also posted his thoughts about this subject of competitiveness on the Accenture blog.

Green began his post with the following:

"For as long as I can remember leaders of business and government have been trying to work more closely to improve education, and in turn, boost business and the economy. In order for Accenture to accomplish its mission of helping our clients become high-performance businesses and governments – and remain competitive ourselves – we need to attract educated and talented people.

Finding talent to improve competitiveness is the number one agenda item for countless business leaders. This is because the foundation of a competitive company is a competitive workforce … and education is the key enabler of a competitive workforce.

To make this a reality, I believe there are three principles we must broadly embrace: First, access…providing access to educational opportunities; second, affordability…making education a reality by reducing financial barriers; and third, accountability…that we are teaching what is relevant and delivering good value for money."

Additionally, Green is an advocate for junior and community colleges. Unlike many public policymakers, who graduate from prestigious institutions, with name value, Green attended Dean College, a two-year school, outside of Boston.

Said Green, in the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire, “I credit Dean College with getting me on the right path,” he said. “I was not an especially good student in high school. I spent the year after high school working in construction, and considered becoming a plumber, like my father. Then one day, I went to visit some friends who were students at Dean College, and my mindset began to change. As I walked around campus and listened to my friends talk about their experiences, I realized this was an opportunity to change my path that might never come again — an opportunity to take another shot at learning. Dean reached out a hand to me, and I can honestly say it was a life-altering experience. Our community and junior college system does the same thing for millions of students every day."

“It was a Dean professor, Charlie Kramer, who ignited my passion for economics and taught me how to think analytically. After all these years, I still have my notes from his economics classes, and I’ve referred back to them from time to time — even as I went on to Babson College, where I earned my bachelor of science degree in economics and then an M.B.A.

Would I be running a global consulting company with thousands of employees today if I’d followed a different path? Who knows? But there is no doubt that my two years at Dean College not only prepared me for advancing my education and gearing up for a career but also transformed me as a person. Our network of junior and community colleges can produce these results. I am living proof.”

Green’s success story and his advocacy for two-year college programs is a strong endorsement of the kind of middle-skills model that Maine needs to continue to move towards, if our state stands a chance, economically.

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