Jeffrey Immelt

Remarks at 2011 CES by Cisco's John Chambers, GE's Jeffrey Immelt and Xerox's Ursula Burns

The Consumer Electronic Tradeshow gave me a great chance to meet other mommy entrepreneurs in the Mommy Tech Summit**, and to hear the provocative remarks of Fortune 500 Chief Executive Officers of Cisco, Xerox and GE on a keynote panel. Of all the issues they could have spoken about, they wanted to address the need for better education of our students to prepare them to work in a global economy.

This is a topic that resonates with most parents raising their children to speak a second or third language, often doing so for some combination of cultural heritage and desire for their children to have that extra advantage in the future.

All three CEOs said our educational system is not doing enough to prepare our children for the global marketplace. Their companies need people who are able to work across borders, engage in cross-cultural teamwork and communicate with people of other cultures. Ursula Burns also noted that we are closing down our borders in the U.S. (accepting fewer immigrants and asking international students to leave) right at the time we need more international brainpower to drive innovation and execute on the entrepreneurial abundance here in the U.S. "The future of big tech is going to be compromised if we keep pushing out international talent."

The fact that fewer students from abroad can get educated here will also mean fewer bridges between our country and others. Two CEOs pointed out that they do business with people running major companies in other countries who were educated in the U.S. and therefore understand the American way of working. Personal relationships are key, and many are formed in undergrad, grad and business schools, when international students study abroad. Fewer international students today may mean fewer American CEOs at international tables in the future.

CEOs love facts and numbers and these CEOs were no different. They reminded us that there are 6 billion people in the world, only 300 million of whom are in the U.S.

    • All successful big businesses are selling to and working with the international marketplace.


    • Over 50% of the revenues collected by their three mega corporations (total of over $80 billion) came from OUTSIDE the U.S.


    • International sales are currently the biggest growth area for most U.S. Fortune 500 corporations.

Our K-12 schools are not doing enough to prepare our kids in math, reading, science and language, so what can we do to prepare for this shift?

    • Globalization is here to stay (Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE, notes he revived the entire company by going global), so as leaders we need to have a "healthy paranoia" about getting left behind in the global economy. We need to pay better attention to what is happening in other countries and make sure we remain competitive.


    • Companies in the U.S. need to step up and partner with the government to improve schools and provide more educational opportunities (one such example is the "Change the Equation Foundation" that helps kids improve in science and is funded by the private and public sectors)


    • We need to rethink how we teach kids using new technology at our disposal (John Chambers of Cicsco mentioned his two year old granddaughter's seamless use of the iPad and questions how tablets, e-readers, and other new such devices are going to be integrated into the classroom)

Ursula Burns ended the keynote panel by saying she felt the most important question we need to be asking as a nation is "what are we going to do prepare our children to participate in the global economy?" She feels this means more science and math, and more exposure to the tools that will help our kids become global citizens.

We know that speaking a foreign language will give our kids at least one of the tools they will need... Do you agree with their take on where things are going? You can post your comments to our Facebook or Twitter page.

** Mommy Tech Summit

Digital moms' influence as the “chief decision maker” for their families, extended families and friends continues to grow. In turn, the Mommy Tech market has grown into a $90 billion dollar marketplace driven by tech-savvy women who are recognized as both powerful consumers and advocates for new technology.