Exclusive insights from Dr. CJ Meadows on the future of education and SP Jain Global’s pivotal role in shaping the learning landscape for tomorrow’s leaders.


In today’s rapidly changing world, every facet of our lives, both personal and professional, is undergoing a profound transformation, redefining the very notion of success. As the pace of change accelerates, traditional paradigms in business and education are hot to trot for disruption. 

Amidst this dynamic landscape, the global education sector is witnessing a monumental shift, with a significant portion of the student population veering away from conventional degrees and teaching methods. To delve into this pivotal topic, we sit down with Dr. CJ Meadows, a visionary leader guiding us toward a future where learning transcends boundaries. Dr. Meadows, renowned for her forward-thinking approach, has sparked discussions and ignited imaginations with her latest book, “The Future of Education,” offering a roadmap for revolutionising learning in the digital era. With accolades such as being named one of the Top 10 Women in IT in Asia and holding a Doctorate in Business Administration from Harvard Business School, Dr. Meadows brings a wealth of expertise to the table. As the co-founder and director of i2e – The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center at S P Jain School of Global Management, she pioneers initiatives that redefine innovation and education boundaries. Through her groundbreaking work in the Advanced-Technology Think Tank & Tinker Lab, she is shaping the future of work and education, one breakthrough at a time. With a career spanning continents and industries, Dr. Meadows’ insights are as diverse as they are profound. In this exclusive interview, she shares her vision for the future of education, drawing on the insights from her latest book. 

Join us as we explore the transformative power of learning and how SP Jain Global, a Forbes Top-20 International Business School, is leading the charge in shaping the next generation of business leaders under Dr. Meadows’ guidance. She provides unique perspectives on how SPJSGM ‘s innovative approaches to education not only equip students for the challenges of tomorrow but also empower them to drive positive change in the world.

Q1. How would you articulate the concept of “the future of education” in your own words? Additionally, how would you assess the current state of the global Education sector in 2024?

Currently, the situation is primed for disruption. How can we be certain? Well, when we examine the industry, we observe that many individuals are overpaying for services that don’t truly cater to their needs. This lack of personalisation often leads people into financial hardship, and a significant portion of the population can’t even access the services due to affordability issues. Hence, the state of affairs is ripe for transformation. Fortunately, there are numerous promising initiatives from various stakeholders aimed at addressing these challenges.

Q2. You brought up how the productivity and trends pertinent to education often mirror those in the business realm. What are three prevailing business trends that you anticipate will notably shape business education in the near future?

Absolutely, without a doubt, the first significant aspect lies in the opportunities presented by emerging technologies such as robotics, AI, and others, which open up numerous possibilities for our work and redefine its focus. We’re shifting towards a paradigm where human activities are intertwined with technology, heralding a distinctly different future of work. We stand at the brink of another revolution, wherein technology emerges as a major trend. 

Another noteworthy trend is globalisation and the widespread acceptance of hybrid working models and various styles of employment, including gig work, which reportedly constitutes up to 40% of the U.S. economy. Previously rigid employment structures within specific companies and locations have given way to more fluid relationships. 

The third trend revolves around economic growth, particularly in sectors like sustainability and green initiatives. There’s a pressing need to reconfigure our products and services to align with these principles while ensuring robust cybersecurity measures are in place. Hence, we’re compelled to rethink our approach to design and address various contemporary issues, including advanced technologies, globalisation, hybrid work models, and sustainability. These trends signal a transformation in the future of work, which in turn necessitates a corresponding transformation in the way we approach learning. 

Q3. Traditionally, B-schools adapt to industry trends to shape management education, but a gap persists between rapid industry growth and educational updates. From Java to generative AI, technology evolves swiftly. How can B-school & recruiters work together to make sure they meet the quality needs for skilled individuals? 

Ans: Organisations face a number of difficulties. Number one is understanding what the new skills are, particularly technology skills, as you’ve mentioned, and also the more human skills that are needed in the workforce. Additionally, as robotics, AI, and other technologies increasingly dominate what we do and how we think, more focus will be placed on human intra and interpersonal skills. This includes the ability to identify needs, design solutions, launch new offerings, and create new economic activities. 

Firstly, companies need to figure out what they require for the future. Secondly, everyone will be competing for the same talent pool. Therefore, it’s not advisable to simply let go of your current workforce and attempt to acquire a new one because disrupting today’s business while building tomorrow could be detrimental, and recovery might be uncertain. Moreover, finding people with the necessary skills could be challenging. Hence, companies should collaborate more with educational institutions than ever. This collaboration serves two primary purposes: firstly, acquiring the skills needed without venturing into the education sector themselves, and secondly, integrating work and learning, which is crucial for fostering innovation.

Q4: Could you elaborate on the role of companies as recruiters and their collaboration with institutions, particularly in shaping future trends, given that governments are also involved? Can you provide insights into any ongoing initiatives, even if they’re in the early stages, undertaken by SP Jain Global to bridge the gap between these entities – institutions, companies, and government – highlighting its significance?

One of the exciting aspects of our approach is the vibrant partnership we foster with our corporate allies. Picture this: in our GMBA, in our 2nd and 3rd trimesters, students dive headfirst into thrilling team-based projects directly with companies. It’s like stepping into a real-world business arena where they not only contribute value but also soak in invaluable insights directly from industry experts. And here’s the kicker – our programmes aren’t set in stone. We’re constantly fine-tuning and enriching them in close collaboration with our corporate community, ensuring they’re always at the cutting edge of what’s needed in today’s dynamic market landscape. 

Q5. As someone associated with promoting disruption and creative thinking, how do you balance these traits to assist global leaders in crafting sensible solutions that prioritise well-being and sustainability? 

I believe there are two critical perspectives to consider here: disruption and design thinking. 

Regarding disruption, it’s crucial for leaders to understand that it doesn’t occur at the top of the market but rather at the bottom, impacting a significant number of people who either need better service or are currently underserved. Typically, if an initiative is genuinely disruptive, a startup will emerge victorious by starting at the market’s bottom and gradually expanding. For larger organisations, knowing how to manage such disruptions is key. This involves learning how to respond to disruptors and even potentially becoming disruptive themselves. If an organisation has an innovation centre, it’s essential to channel innovations that benefit the current business. Conversely, for innovations that could pose a threat if not pursued internally, there’s the option to spin them out as startup ventures, freeing them from bureaucratic constraints. 

Moreover, collaboration between large organisations and startups is feasible through open innovation, allowing them to leverage each other’s strengths in terms of resources, branding, creativity, and agility. Switching gears to design thinking, once a disruptive opportunity in the market is identified, how should one proceed? Design thinking offers an approach. Firstly, it’s essential to deeply understand the needs and desires of various user segments rather than attempting to design a one-size-fits-all solution. Design with specific users in mind and aim for radical improvements over current offerings.  Additionally, prototyping is crucial. Start small, go through many quick iterations, create a minimum viable product, and ensure profitability before scaling up. Otherwise, there’s a risk of squandering significant resources.

Q6. How does SP Jain foster radical innovation? Can you highlight specific programmes or projects that showcase the importance of creative thinking in enhancing professionals’ skills?

Ans: Well, in the MBA programme, for example, I serve as the area head for consulting management, and I stay with those students throughout their programme, despite their being in different locations. We begin by not only offering classes and engaging in activity-based learning but also by incorporating real corporate projects into the classroom. 

Additionally, I work with them individually to nurture their passions, which is crucial for fostering creative thinking and personal leadership, ultimately leading to the leadership of others. I assist them in identifying their areas of passion, envisioning the future, becoming world-leading experts in those areas, and determining how they can contribute to shaping that future. 

During the second and third terms, I oversee company projects, and we encounter numerous compelling requests from companies like Google, UBS, and Procter and Gamble, among others. These requests often involve understanding market needs, mapping out market strategies, and devising plans for launching entirely new businesses. Our programme emphasises creativity, entrepreneurial mindset, and future-building, integrating these elements seamlessly into the curriculum. 

Q7. If you were to pinpoint three essential skills or personality traits that students need to fully engage with the programme and evolve into seasoned professionals, what would those three traits be?

You know, the first thing that comes to mind is actually based on LinkedIn research regarding the most desired traits in 2023, and the one that saw the most growth “adaptability”.  Everyone realises that with the rapid pace of change, businesses need to adapt, individuals need to adapt to what their employers need, and workers need to grow both skill-wise and personally. So, adaptability is crucial. 

The next important skill, also highlighted by LinkedIn, is communication. You might have an excellent data analyst or AI systems like ChatGPT proposing solutions, but who will effectively communicate these ideas to others and represent them to the world? Communication and presentation skills are absolutely essential. Another aspect I personally emphasise is whole-brain thinking. Nobel Prize-winning neuroscience reveals that leaders and teams make better decisions when they engage all parts of their brain—logic, creativity, higher-order thinking, action, and emotions. It’s not just about having a diverse workforce anymore; it’s about having a diverse mindset as a leader and being able to integrate all aspects simultaneously.

Q8. Refocusing on knowledge seekers, specifically Generation Z, we acknowledge their known tendency towards shorter attention spans due to the multitude of distractions. Given this, how do institutions adapt to ensure these individuals still receive the necessary education and skills to become informed and active contributors to shaping the future? 

It’s quite interesting and somewhat amusing that the term “Gen Z” is reminiscent of corporate CEOs with the attention span of a goldfish. Hence, not only are our corporations adopting a lean and practical approach to their work, but in terms of learning, microlearning proves to be an excellent strategy that can seamlessly integrate with your work and contribute to ongoing improvement. This continuous improvement is essential in the innovation cycle. When I lead workshops on design thinking, I typically guide participants through a microlearning course or multimedia book that I’ve compiled, presenting information in bite-sized chunks. This approach allows individuals to absorb information gradually, try it out, and engage in activities related to it. By presenting information in a comfortable and active manner, we can ensure engagement, and ultimately, we aim for action and implementation. 

Q9. Considering the current generation’s emphasis on both earning and learning, alongside a preference for small moments of happiness over materialistic achievements, what are your thoughts on making education more affordable, accessible, and inclusive for students facing constraints due to  location or financial circumstances? 

Another constraint to consider is that many individuals in the tech industry are hesitant to leave their jobs to pursue further education. This reluctance stems from the rapid advancement of technology, as they fear missing out on developments. The traditional model of learning, earning, applying what you learned, and then returning to learning is evolving. 

People now seek continuous learning throughout their lives. This shift necessitates the introduction of microlearning suitable for those balancing work and education, along with flexible programmes offering stackable certificates. Such programmes allow for gradual personal transformation rather than requiring immediate commitment to a degree. 

Educators must adapt by providing these new models and opportunities, leveraging technology to create engaging learning experiences that blend the benefits of both technology and human interaction. 

Q10. Congratulations on the launch of your book “The Future of Education”, tell us a bit about it. 

You know, it’s really the need of the day. We’re facing numerous opportunities in our work lives due to advanced technologies, which necessitates a differently skilled workforce. This translates to education.  The essence of the book, I’d say, lies in the idea that education is ripe for disruption. Design thinking offers an approach that both corporations and educational institutions can adopt to understand people’s needs and provide tailored solutions effectively, thus ensuring success in the marketplace. In the book, I delve into some of these needs and propose new models of educational business. 

Instead of paying for schooling, what if you could earn while you learn? This concept can be realised through investment, reaping the benefits of enhanced learning performance. Furthermore, students can contribute to businesses by aiding in innovation, assessing systems and practices, and identifying business opportunities that generate value. If they are indeed creating value, why shouldn’t they share in the rewards? And, of course, there’s the aspect of technology. What new possibilities lie ahead that we’re only beginning to envision and experiment with? It’s an exciting future indeed. 

Q11. As the author of this book, what key takeaway do you want readers to have? What message do you aim for them to receive after reading? I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter, particularly regarding any specific changes you hope to inspire in education through this book. 

Whether you’re a learner, an employer, an educational institution, an investor in Ed Tech or even someone in government policy making, it’s essential to recognise that the future graduates we need to produce in this age, empowered by advanced technologies, are fundamentally different from those required in the industrial era. The process through which they develop themselves and their skills will also differ significantly, necessitating the integration of technology and the creation of value for all stakeholders. 

In conclusion, the insights shared by Dr. CJ Meadows in this exclusive interview have shed light on the transformative power of education and innovation. As we navigate the complexities of the digital age, her vision for the future of learning offers a beacon of hope and possibility. Through her groundbreaking work at i2e – The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Centre at S P Jain School of Global Management, Dr Meadows exemplifies the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that will shape the next generation of business leaders. 

As we reflect on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, let us heed Dr Meadows’ call to embrace change and embrace the limitless potential of education to drive positive change in our world. With her latest book, “The Future of Education,” serving as a guide, we can chart a course towards a future where learning knows no bounds and innovation knows no limits. 

In the words of Dr Meadows herself, let us dare to dream, dare to innovate, and dare to transform the world through the power of education. Thank you for joining us on this enlightening journey, and may we all continue to strive for excellence in education and innovation.

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