Baby Boomers Are Passing The Baton In Strategy Leadership

An interview with P.K. Agarwal, Dean and CEO of Northeastern University - Silicon Valley


P.K. Agarwal is the Dean and CEO of Northeastern University - Silicon Valley, a regional campus of Boston-based Northeastern University, renowned for experiential learning and coops. He is also the Chairman of Future 500, a Bay Area pioneer in the area of global sustainability. Until recently, he was the CEO of TiE Global, dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship across 61 cities in 18 countries. Prior to TiE, P.K served as Governor Schwarzenegger’s Chief Technology Officer for the State of California.

We sat down with him ahead of his presentation at the Strategic Planning Innovation Summit.

What do you think are the main qualities of a successful strategy?

A key element of a successful strategy is that it engages all the stakeholders and nurtures creativity and dialogue. This way the strategy gets embedded into the culture of the organization.

How do you think the role of a strategist is changing?

A successful strategist in this day and age has multiple roles: the keeper of the process and the outcomes; an organizational therapist; a cheerleader and a motivator; and most importantly a champion for the cause.

How important is flexibility when creating new strategies?

In these disruptive times, change is the daily norm. Even large companies are pivoting to new business models. Not only is there the need for flexibility when it comes to strategy, but one must be prepared to start over.

Have the attitudes of a new generation of workers affected how strategy is formulated or implemented?

As the Baby Boomers phase out, Gen X move into senior leadership roles, and Gen Y into senior professional roles, a new organizational culture is emerging. This new culture is a sharp departure from what baby boomers shaped over the last 2-3 decades. Accordingly, the strategy has to take these cultural shifts into account. As an example, Gen Xers have a low level of trust toward authority, while Millennials (Gen Y) have a high level of trust toward authority. The strategy has to balance these seemingly contradictory expectations of the future of the organization.

What can delegates expect from your upcoming presentation at the Strategic Planning Innovation Summit?

The delegates will get a clear view of the disruption that lies ahead and how to be successful in shaping the organization in this new crazy landscape.

You can hear more from P.K., along with other leading senior strategy executives, at the Strategic Planning Innovation Summit, taking place in San Francisco on May 18-19.

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