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A.T. Kearney Chairman Paul Laudicina on Global Change

The current period in modern American history is more revolutionary than 1968, when University of Chicago students commandeered the Administration Building in Hyde Park for 20 days, said Paul Laudicina, managing officer and chairman of the board of A.T. Kearney. “This is the most extraordinary time in my career in terms of the velocity and amplitude of change we all observe in the world,” Laudicina said during the Steingraber/A.T. Kearney Speaker Series at Gleacher Center on April 10.

As current MBA students launch their careers over the next few years, they will continue to face convulsive, disruptive change, he told them. “Your ability to deal with it and work with it successfully will determine not only whether or not you are able to deliver on your own professional ambitions or those of your firm, but more importantly whether you are able to deliver on the ambitions and needs of society,” Laudicina said.

High-value-added management consulting must create value in a way that is consistent with shareholder and stakeholder values, he said. “Our consultants carry a card quoting our founder that says, ‘Our success as consultants will depend upon the essential rightness of the advice we give and our ability to convince those in authority that it is good,’” Laudicina said.

Recovery from the recent recession will occur in a “very long, slow climb,” he said. Three economic indicators must improve before recovery becomes more significant, Laudicina said:

The business environment in which future MBAs will lead their professional careers will be much more daunting than the one Laudicina has enjoyed during his career, he said. “It is no longer enough to live off of your own domain expertise,” Laudicina said. “To be successful, certainly in leadership positions going forward, will require you to be intellectually omnivorous. You must, of course, have special domain expertise. But you must also have peripheral vision. To be successful, leaders must be able to continuously see opportunities and avoid risk.”

Mantosh Kumar, a student in the Evening MBA Program, attended the presentation to gain deeper insight on the responsibilities and challenges of consulting. “Laudicina definitely outlined the challenges and the way the economy and social sector are changing. The key takeaway for me is that I’m from India and given the way things are shifting at this point in time, I need to keep in mind that there are a number of opportunities in India, as well. That’s definitely important, especially in today’s economy.”

—Phil Rockrohr