Entrepreneur

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner: Too Much Emphasis On Degrees, But Not Enough On Experience

Jeff Weiner is not your typical Silicon Valley CEO.

The LinkedIn boss is well-known to have developed a leadership style that is vastly different from other traditional tech CEOs.

He was even ranked number one in 2014 for Glassdoor’s list of the highest rated CEOs. As someone who also holds a strong belief in education, he is in a prime position to connect talent to opportunity on a massive scale with his company.

LinkedIn CEO Meets Recode

Image Credit: Business Insider
Image Credit: Business Insider

Recently, he took to the stage at Recode’s Code Enterprise conference to share about what’s been happening in LinkedIn.

Right off the bat, he gleamed about how Spectacles is a gadget destined for bigger things. Briefly touching on the failings of the Google Glass, Jeff Weiner admits to being a huge fan of Snap Inc’s first attempt at hardware, and the situations in which it can help him to capture feelings in the moment.

Of course, the topic of Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn had to be brought up.

As a new “Microsoft Executive”, Jeff shared how both companies can feed off each other, and what users can expect from the products and services of both companies going cross platforms and integrating with each other.

While all that is exciting, Jeff Weiner spoke some important words that resonated with the state of today’s market.

“The days where you could go to school, study something, graduate, then have a job for the rest of your life is over.”

Image Credit: Wikipedia
Image Credit: Wikipedia

This is perhaps something that is very relevant in today’s world. The working environment that we are familiar with now is in a constant state of flux.

Job scopes change, responsibilities change.

The rules of work can also change. The World Economic Forum reported recently that five million jobs will be displaced by new technologies by 2020.

The modern worker is one where he/she always has to be in a state of constant education – lifelong learning if you will.

LinkedIn, of course, has all the data as to what which industries require what skills. Jeff reiterated that we should keep up with what new skills are required in the modern market.

“Anyone responsible for a technology that can reach beyond historically what was possible to think about the unintended consequences of what we’re doing.”

Image Credit: Business Insider
Image Credit: Business Insider

Companies will often have the best of intentions – these are people who take great pride in the value that they have added into the lives of their users.

But as with all good intentions, there are unintended consequences, saying that the rate of innovation has accelerated to the point that it’s exceeding society’s ability to make sense of it all.

These are questions that need to be asked for all the good that companies have set out to do, and they have to be open to the fact that there could be unintended consequences over the horizon.

“Historically here, there’s been a tremendous amount of weight that’s been given to four-year university degrees and not nearly enough weight in my opinion is given to vocational training facilities and vocational training certifications.”

Image Credit: Bloomberg
Image Credit: Bloomberg

This is the quote that has been dominating news headlines on the internet shortly after the conference went online. While he was referring to the educational gap in the US and the lack of initiatives taken to narrow it, this is a point where it is very relevant to many outside of the US – Singapore included.

People need to realise that education is not a one-way street, where only a degree will guarantee you a future. The idea that you need to get a degree to secure certain kinds of jobs need to be changed, and be open to the fact that your individual talents and experiences can also be used to obtain success.

Jeff gave Germany as an example where not everyone goes to a university, where vocational education in the country is so highly successful to the point that when appointing CEOs, German companies will tend to choose people from this track as they truly know what’s going on due to their expertise and experience.

“I feel like one of the most important things we can do, especially now, is teach compassion… in schools.”

Image Credit: LinkedIn
Image Credit: LinkedIn

Jeff is a strong advocate of “Compassionate Management”.

What that means is simply putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and understanding their perspective, so as to put you in a position where you can help them.

With all the focus on the literacy in traditional disciplines such as mathematics, he believes that we can do better by also teaching compassion on top of all these.

With the backing of Microsoft and the acquisition of Lynda.com, LinkedIn looks set to become way more than just an employment platform, and with an education-focused CEO like Jeff Weiner at the helm, they look set to equip the new generation of job seekers with relevant skill that every job opening requires.

If you’d like to catch up on the conference, check out the video below:

 

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