The rapid evolution of communications technology that has helped businesses stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic is also speeding up big changes in organizational structure that will outlive the virus, according to Shayan Hussain, managing director for investment firm BlackRock, the world’s largest assets manager.
Hussain recently spoke to more than 100 Kennesaw State University students as part of the BlackRock Lecture series, a semester-long partnership between the company and the Michael J. Coles College of Business, the College of Computing and Software Engineering, and the College of Science and Mathematics.
The series’ goal is to help students better understand interdisciplinary trends in investing. Each participating college is hosting an event, with the series running until Nov. 4.
BlackRock manages $7.4 trillion in assets and has more than 16,000 employees globally.
During his presentation, titled “Investing with an Eye Toward a Post-COVID World,” Hussain discussed how advances in computing power, data collection, artificial intelligence and high-speed internet delivery are upending traditional ideas about how organizations operate and raise capital.
Hussain’s presentation was moderated by KSU students Raicheal Tringali and David Lee, the chief operating officer and chief investment officer, respectively, of KSU’s Student Managed Investment Fund.
They guided the conversation to several topics, including the effect of the Federal Reserve reducing interest rates to zero and how increased teleworking is affecting workplace culture at BlackRock — a subject relevant to many students on the call interested in one day working for the firm.
Hussain described how the staff has become more connected through online group chats, even using the platform to organize volunteer activity to help pass Georgia’s recent hate crime bill. They have also instituted new virtual training sessions for junior-level employees where senior members of the team interview their peers on the investment side.
Economics professor and SMIF chairman Govind Hariharan helped organize the event, saying that it helped students put the economic challenges brought on by COVID-19 into perspective.
BlackRock views the lecture series as an important part of its corporate culture, which values engaging directly with the communities in which they operate.