In Clarence B. Jones’ speech at Michigan’s Ross School of Business, he stated, “History might well indict business students and CEOs as the Neros of today. We can’t know what is happening and continue to conduct business as usual. It doesn’t matter how innovative your company’s technology is. This is a problem that must be dealt with now or later, and fewer options will be available later.” This statement seems to be specifically referring to society’s lack of action regarding the well-being of mankind’s future. Although this is a significant issue to discuss, I do not necessarily believe that his accusation of business students and CEOs taking back row seats is true. While recent past events have shown that some businesses executives are, in fact, acting in support of their personal interests and not society’s, I do believe that there is a large majority of business people (and students) targeting weaknesses in today’s society and planning for change. One area that has evolved tremendously is the auto industry.
In the past 14 years, the auto industry has made numerous technological feats. Manufacturers have successfully integrated into an industry that does not only provide a means of transportation to consumers, but one that is driven by all sorts of desire-satiating technology. Some examples of automotive innovations include bluetooth integration, park-distance control, ultra-efficient engines, and 100% electric vehicles. These are major improvements that not only help companies survive through steady sales, but also concentrate on making the world a more sustainable place. People such as Elon Musk have taken great consideration of future (and present) global sustainability; therefore, to say that today’s business students and CEOs are the Nero’s of today is plain wrong. Instead of criticizing the choices that global business people make, maybe society should instead focus on the consumers themselves? And maybe it isn’t the manufacturing that is the issue, but instead, the idea of unsustainable consumerism? The wants and desires instead of the needs and requirements. Until we dive deeper into the problems associated with consumerism, there is no reason to point fingers at the general population of business students and CEOs.