Take it from someone who graduated in a recession

As a newly-minted college grad, when Victor Bennett hit the job market the only work he could find was at a small startup. Google. He suggests that when it looks like business is not going to be the same as it was before: ask yourself - how do the skills that I've had, become disproportionately useful? Maybe some of the things that were holding you back before, are opportunities now.

Dean Bill Boulding interviews Professor Victor Bennett on Instagram

Victor Bennett, Associate Professor of Strategy

“Six months ago when I talked to folks about automation (most of the work that I am doing right now is on automation that is both robotics and artificial intelligence or AI) people were really cautious about it, they were really afraid about the impact that some of these technologies are going to have on work. They were scared because these things don’t take breaks, they run all night.”

“All of a sudden now, in a world where we are really concerned about the situations that we are placing central employees in, I think some attitudes about automation may be changing. And the fact that maybe these things, maybe robotics and A.I. being able to run all night, maybe being able to do deliveries without risking humans, in a world where we are more globalized than we have been in the past, there is more risk from human communicable diseases, maybe those are going to be more valuable things in the future.”

“Instead of preventing automation, we should be thinking about how to make people ready for it.”

“In 2010, we were really concerned about having a recession - and how do we adjust to that? And A.I. - how do we adjust to that? And now COVID, how do we adjust to that? If you are treating each new instance like something brand new, you will always be out of your element.”

“Hopefully what business school can give you is some structure (in how to think about challenges). So here is how I would like you to think about this, in a recession you might say, ‘OK, I’ve been there before.’ Here is a situation where maybe demand is down, supply is down, liquidity is constrained - that seems really scary, but maybe that’s an opportunity, maybe the fact that liquidity is constrained means that it would be harder for other businesses to copy. How do the resources that I have become disproportionately useful in this situation? How are the skills that I’ve had going to become disproportionately useful in this situation? Maybe some of the things that were holding you back before are now actually going to be opportunities.”

Quick Facts

Area: Strategy

Core Course: Fundamentals of Strategy

Researches: Automation—both robotics and software—and implications for competition and jobs

Street Cred:

Senior Economist, White House Council of Economic Advisors (2016-2017)

Google alum - and patent holder

Administrator of the Manuel Bennett Art Trust

Advisor to the government of New Zealand



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