Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sandbag, Meet Ocean

I spent the vast majority of my day Friday at an event called Spotlight! (yes, the italics and exclamation point are mandatory for the branding of the event).  While in college at the University of Michigan, I was a member of a program called the Tauber Institute for Global Operations during my undergraduate and graduate education.  Without going into too much detail, this program is an interdisciplinary organization driven by action based learning where students in engineering and business team up to work on large-scale projects for some very well-known companies.  Suffice it to say, those who join this program are typically highly competitive, motivated, and extremely bright individuals who aspire to the highest levels of executive management.  I am not sure how I slipped through the cracks, but I am a better person for my experiences in this organization.  Spotlight! is the culmination of the summer projects where the teams present their results to other teams, students, professors, executive sponsors, alumni, and staff over the course of the entire day.  It happens once a year, I have attended for 6 years straight, and it provides a great opportunity to catch up with my former contemporaries from school.

Because of the type of ambitious people who join Tauber, they are driven to take jobs immediately out of school with companies like General Electric, McKinsey Consulting, Intel, Dell, and Boeing.  In talking with them year after year, they clearly state their belief that the opportunity for them in Michigan is less than in other states and that the only true professional path for them is one outside of the state.  Many of these people are not originally from Michigan so they do not have the emotional ties like me, but year after year I stand in front of the wave of criticism and negativity, and I fight for the respect of my state.  It is daunting.  I wish they could be dummies so that I could work my ninja-like verbal gymnastics on them.  Then, if I was losing the argument I could be like "What's that" and when they look I would run away.

More than anything else, this group is a representative microcosm of the problems Michigan curently has in retaining the brain power to stabilize our economy, develop new industries, attract established businesses, and continue with the push to make our state an attractive place to live for those born and raised anywhere.  After spending a lot of time with this group, I am inspired to dedicate several (at least more than one, including this one) of my postings this week to the issue of brain power in Michigan.  I don't know if I know what this means, but I imagine I will figure it out when I start and finish writing.

4 comments:

Alex said...

You better not have been in Ann Arbor without telling me.

Shame on you.

Dan A. said...

If it's brain power you seek...I'll stay clear.

Pedro Vaz said...

i made it here!

also, pls keep your "blogfreezone" commitments..jk

Ken said...

Alex - I'm in AA pretty much every weekend because Maureen lives there, so we should find our way to each other.

Pedro - Thanks for stopping by! I did not expect anyone to swing on over to my blog despite my advertising, but I couldn't be much happier that you actually did. I hope you enjoy it. Don't work yourself to death.