Last month the Greater Houston Partnership held a Workforce Development Summit as part of their UpSkill Houston initiative at which Joseph Fuller of the Harvard Business School was the luncheon keynote speaker. The Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) launched UpSkill Houston earlier this year as a six-year, $6 million project aiming to close the gap between middle skills job openings – jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a degree from a four-year university – and the lack of qualified workers to fill these. Gathered business leaders, educators, and representatives from community organizations enjoyed lunch at the Waldorf-Astoria Ballroom in the University of Houston Hilton Hotel while hearing his presentation U.S. Competitiveness: Building America’s Middle Skills.
Following GHP’s President and CEO Bob Harvey’s welcome, Gina Luna, GHP Vice Chairman and Chairman at JPMorgan Chase in Houston, introduced the following 3½-minute video with a few remarks on the need UpSkill Houston aims to fill. She quoted Fred Dedrick, Executive Director of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, from his presentation earlier that morning when he spoke of the goal to “move people up and bring people in.” About the UpSkill Houston project, she said,
“This must be driven by the business community. We have great partners and capable partners in our educators and in our social service agencies that all play a role in this, but to be successful and to make the difference that we intend to, it will be business driven.”
Luna then lined out the three strategic goals of UpSkill Houston:
- to attract more individuals into this workforce pipeline,
- to train them and to prepare them to be successful in mid-skill careers, and
- to place them in open jobs so that Houston can continue to fuel its economy.
After encouraging everyone to think about what each could do “within your business or within your organization to take the first step or the next step,” she introduced the afternoon’s keynote speaker, Joe Fuller, as follows:
“Joe is a senior lecturer in General Management at the Harvard Business School, and he heads the Entrepreneurial Manager course in its MBA program. He is also a member of the faculty group overseeing the U.S. Competitiveness Project, which is a research-led effort by the Harvard Business School to identify practical steps to strengthen the nation’s economy with a recent emphasis on beefing up job skills, K-12 education, transportation, and infrastructure. (Sounds like he’s the right guy for us – you may have to stay, Joe!) He was the founder and the first employer of the global consulting firm Monitor Group, which is now Monitor Deloitte. He served as the CEO of its commercial consulting operations from 1994 to 2006, and remained a senior advisor to the firm until its acquisition by Deloitte in 2012. Joe has spoken at numerous management conferences and has written extensively. His work has appeared in major media across the nation and around the globe, and his white papers, Just Say No to Wall Street and What’s a Director to Do? – written in collaboration with Professor Michael Jensen – are used in curricula of dozens of MBA programs worldwide. Today I believe that Harvard Business School is releasing an important paper that Joe was instrumental in writing – Bridge the Gap: Rebuilding America’s Middle Skills. It is appropriate to have you here with us today. We are pleased to have you and look forward to your remarks. Please join me in welcoming Joe Fuller.”
Look for highlights from Mr. Fuller’s fascinating presentation, with video, here on Construction Citizen in an upcoming post.