In a global, technology-based economy, successful careers will be built on human traits that cannot be automated, said Carol Fulp, president and CEO of The Partnership, Inc., in her speech at the Sawyer Business School undergraduate commencement.

To discover new opportunities, graduates should focus on the things that can’t be digitized – “human-only traits such as creativity, imagination, intuition, insights, critical thinking, emotion, curiosity, ethics, awareness, judgment, presence, inspiration, foresight, passion and more will be most important in the future, because machines are very good at simulating but not at being,” she said.

Fulp, who works to enhance regional competitiveness by creating opportunities for professionals of diverse backgrounds, received the honorary degree Doctor of Business Administration at the ceremony, one of three Suffolk commencements held Sunday, May 21, at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on the Boston waterfront.

Rapidly evolving workplace

In the transition from a manufacturing economy to one centered on technology, career prospects are changing rapidly, said Fulp, noting that “the top 10 jobs available in 2010 did not yet exist in 2004.” She cited Facebook as an example: founded 13 years ago, now available in 17 languages and with a population of users that, were it a nation, would place it just behind China and India.

“We are currently preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist, using technologies that have not yet been invented in order to solve problems that we do not even know are problems yet, and as a result it is essential that you be innovative, forward thinking, flexible and that you remain curious in order to succeed,” Fulp told the graduating students.


Emotional intelligence

Humanity and leadership are where the lasting value will be, said Fulp, and the new way of working will allow people to focus on things that can’t be automated, most importantly, emotional intelligence, which enables people to “connect more quickly, build more trust, avoid conflict and solve problems more efficiently” – all important qualities in business leaders.

The Partnership is an organization that emphasizes the importance of leadership and emotional intelligence skills, with the adage “IQ plus EQ equals leadership,” said Fulp.

“While technology is an incredible tool to increase productivity and expand communication, emotional intelligence gives us the ability to be true leaders.

“At the Sawyer Business School you have been well prepared to succeed in this diverse, technology-driven world where emotional intelligence and leadership are prized,” she said.

“You’ve gained more than just technology and business knowledge, you graduate with real-world skills, with an emphasis on practical experiences. You have learned how to adapt to dynamic work environments, think innovatively, and lead others. You have met students and professors from around the world, enabling you to gain a multicultural perspective in this era of global diversity. Your studies have had a global focus that explores how businesses differ among nations and have introduced you to new cultures and economic environments. …These skills will help you lead in this new economy.”

Fulp had begun her speech by mentioning many successful Business School alumni, and she urged graduates to draw on the global alumni network for support as they pursue their careers.

The value of experience

Acting President Marisa Kelly focused on Sawyer Business School student experiences in her speech, citing internships in top Boston financial healthcare and other organizations, service learning activities, study abroad and entrepreneurial successes.  

“Some of you started your own businesses and funded them in a Sawyer Business School crowdfunding course that is one of the more innovative and experiential entrepreneurship classes in the nation,” she said. “Others in your class brought Suffolk’s first TedX Talk to campus, where speakers explored future economies including the networked economy, the sharing economy, the global economy, the space economy and importantly, the economy that you will all be graduating into.”

She urged them, as they advance in their careers, to offer the same sort of alumni support that they benefited from as students.

The Sawyer Business School undergraduate Class of 2017 is made up of 535 new alumni.

Suffolk University conveyed a total of 2,029 undergraduate and advanced degrees during weekend ceremonies.