Talent – as opposed to any other resource – is the biggest driver in the evolution and ultimate success of businesses, according to Dominic Barton, global managing partner of McKinsey & Company and featured speaker at the Carey Business School’s annual Ginder Lecture, held on April 11.
Barton, whose latest book is entitled “Talent Wins: The New Playbook for Putting People First,” related that in posing the question “What would you teach your younger self if you could?” to senior executives, the international consulting firm found that regardless of location or business sector, the number one answer was always a wish to have spent more time on people.
“With all of the capital flying around the planet, with all of the opportunities that are there, it’s really talent that drives [business innovation and success],” Barton said. The lessons of those executives also apply to McKinsey. “We can be much more sophisticated with how we allocate talent and how we develop talent,” observed Barton. “At the end of the day, talent drives strategy, talent drives performance, talent is what drives the results.”
Barton added that defining and recognizing talent has become an increasingly inclusive and diverse exercise. Stating that talent is “not defined by GPA,” he said that business had until recent years become too focused on “checklists and standards.”
“Talent comes in many different guises. It’s more about character than what people know. We’re looking for the resilience, judgment [and] courage people have,” said Barton. For their part, business schools are adapting to recognize and attract this expanding pool of talent, he added. This has taken the form of increasingly diverse student backgrounds and work experiences, together with expanded curriculum offerings, instruction modalities, and the idea of lifelong learning, the latter being “critical” to sustained success.
“Business schools have a role to play as we reskill and retool,” emphasized Barton.
McKinsey has also put this philosophy and practice to work in its own recruitment strategies, as it continues to hire a greater number of more experienced, older people from diverse backgrounds than in decades past, said Barton.
For the past 25 years, the William M. and Katherine B. Ginder Lecture has brought prominent speakers to the Carey Business School to discuss timely and stimulating issues relevant to the business community. The intent of the series, as William Ginder explains, “is to broaden the opportunities for students and alumni, and the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. community, to learn from outstanding speakers and role models.”