How can the United States stay competitive and lead in a world of rapid and dramatic change? Deborah Wince-Smith, president and CEO of the Council on Competitiveness, discussed the challenges and opportunities of a transformed competitive landscape at a BB&T Colloquium on Competitiveness and Innovation on Feb. 21, 2013. The event was sponsored by BB&T in partnership with Center for Leadership, Innovation and Change (CLIC) at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. School of Business.
Tectonic shifts in technology and the global economy have reshaped the competitive landscape and driven a deep transition in the world order of production. Wince-Smith discussed these key forces of change, the challenges and opportunities they present, and what we must do to set the stage for future economic growth, job creation and business competitiveness.
“We are transitioning between two great ages of human development,” said Wince-Smith. “[From] an age in which physical resources were the main factors of production, to an age in which ideas, imagination and creativity are the most important resources.”
She stressed the need for everyone to be an innovator. “Innovation is a word that begins with the letter ‘I’ and everyone in this room is an innovator and it is up to us to innovate for the future,” she said.
Staying competitive in the current turbulent and transforming business environment will be a challenge as new social and ethical issues arise. Wince-Smith encouraged students to get out of their comfort zones, take risks and focus efforts on systemic thinking and a broad-based knowledge. She said it is going to be up to the next generation to solve concerns at the intersection of food, energy and water.In this new era of unprecedented knowledge and unprecedented innovation, we are in the midst of a scientific revolution – way beyond the Information Age, said Wince-Smith. We are at the dawn of a nanotechnology revolution that will generate trillions of dollars of wealth as we find new solutions for health, energy, defense, etc.
One student asked her opinion on what the U.S. needed to do to be a competitive global leader. Wince-Smith said the U.S. needs to focus on reducing the debt, curbing the growth of entitlements, investing in resources for the future, energy, security, skilled workers, and effective leadership.
About Deborah Wince-Smith
Deborah Wince-Smith is the president and CEO of the Council on Competitiveness, a group of CEOs, university presidents and labor leaders committed to driving U.S. competitiveness. She has more than 20 years of experience as a senior U.S. government official, including as the first Assistant Secretary for Technology Policy in the Department of Commerce. She is a Senate-confirmed member of the IRS Oversight Board, and has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc., and the Board of Governors for the Argonne National Laboratory. Wince-Smith currently serves on the Smithsonian National Board and the boards of several other public and private organizations. She is the president of the newly formed Global Federation of Competitiveness Councils, whose creation she led. Wince-Smith is the vice chair of the World Economic Forum’s global Council on Global Competitiveness and is a member of Japan’s Science & Technology in Society Forum Council. Wince-Smith earned a degree in classical archaeology and graduated Magna cum Laude.
In March 2010, the Robert H. Smith School of Business received $1.5 million from the BB&T Foundation to support business ethics and leadership programs. Awarded over a 10-year period, the gift will fund new curricula and the BB&T Colloquium, which brings together students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the public for an annual lecture series. The center also uses the BB&T gift to create undergraduate, MBA and executive education curricula that focus on the logic and morality of capitalism. BB&T has been a strong supporter of the Smith School for nearly 15 years, recruiting students and investing in student scholarships, the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, and academic program initiatives such as the Undergraduate Fellows Program.