Experience working or studying abroad most common business leader characteristic

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18th June 2015 16:17 - Education

A recent study by the British Council – which surveyed 1,709 professional leaders from 30 different countries - has discovered that a degreeExperience working or studying abroad most common business leader characteristic in social science and experience of studying or working abroad are the two most common characteristics of business leaders, worldwide.

The survey indicated that 44 per cent of professional leaders have a degree in a social science subject and 46 per cent have experience working or studying abroad. More specifically, 40 per cent of the respondents had studied in the US as part of their undergraduate degree.

Of the professional leaders surveyed,  those under 45 favoured degrees in social science or humanities, as opposed to those over 45 who were more likely to have degrees in specialist areas such as health or engineering.

The research also showed that extra-curricular and networking experience gleaned during higher education is just as important as studies.

Director of Education at the British Council, Professor Rebecca Hughes, said of the research:

“The world needs leaders who can handle complexity and give diverse perspectives on the challenges we all face. Globally, we need to go beyond a simple 'two cultures’ binary outlook these days.”

She went on to say that the research suggests that the people who place a focus on multiculturalism and look at social dimensions, instead of just looking at data “have tended to succeed and reach positions of leadership”.

US Director for the British Council, Paul Smith, said of the findings:

“Our research shows a clear need for leaders who have critical analytical and interpretative skills as well as professional knowledge, leaders who can make decisions based on understanding of cultural context and human insight, and leaders who are international in their outlook and, increasingly, in their learning experience.”

The professional leaders surveyed were said to be in a position of power or influence, and worked in a variety of industries. All of the participants had experience in higher education.

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