Featured Business Leader – Eric Schmidt
This week the AIB Featured Business Leader is Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google. Known for his outspoken opinions and ways of doing business, Schmidt has a wealth of business knowledge to share. He is also a strong advocate for higher education, regularly emphasising the value that education can place on your career.
Born in Washington D.C, Eric Schmidt came from a family who made education a high priority. His mother had a Masters in Psychology, and his father was a professor of international economics. After graduating from Yorktown High School in Virginia, Schmidt went on to obtain a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from Princeton University. He then completed a Masters in Computer Science, as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. With such a strong educational background, Schmidt joined Sun Microsystems in a leadership role in 1983 as its first software manager. From there he progressed through a number of positions within the company to take the lead as President of Sun Technology Enterprises.
In 2001, Schmidt joined Google’s board of directors, and in a matter of months became the Chief Executive Officer. According to Google, his role as CEO included ‘building the corporate infrastructure needed to maintain Google’s rapid growth as a company and on ensuring that quality remains high while the product development cycle times are kept to a minimum’.In 2011 Schmidt stepped down as CEO and moved to the role of Executive Chairman where he is currently still working. Amidst his current role, Schmidt is a regular feature in academic discussions and panels around the world. When speaking at the London Business Forum he discussed higher education and defended the shift of education from in person to via distance-learning. ‘The online model does not replace the teacher at all – all models have heavy teacher involvement – but the teachers are guiding students using online tools’ he said. This view actually links back to the fact that the AIB 12 Month MBA can be provided via distance-learning; some argue that online education cannot compare to face-to-face, when in fact there are a number of personalised benefits of studying online.
Finally, Schmidt touches on his view on higher education at the SXSW conference where he was promoting his book The New Digital Age. He highlighted that there are some people who believe that higher education is not a good use of time, adding that ‘they’re just wrong’. He also states that ‘the economic return to higher education over a lifetime produces significant compound greater earnings’.
I think that Schmidt’s commitment to education is very admirable; there are many business executives who do not highlight the importance of education and professional development. I am interested to hear your views on the matter – do you value education and its use in the workplace? Also, if you would like to see us profile a particular business leader then please leave a comment below.
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: Tech Crunch, Business Week, The Next Web and Wikipedia.