“What impact would Brexit passing have on the financial markets?” This question was asked in late April during one of our live sessions, an interactive component of our UNC Capital Markets Certificate Program that enables students to connect with their faculty in a synchronous online setting. At the time, few participants in the class had even heard of Brexit, let alone considered its possible impact. And yet – in a 12-week program on capital markets that covered the nuances of bond math, swap pricing and risk management – no discussion or material proved more valuable than that prescient question.

Is it possible that today’s age of big data has had the inadvertent impact of impairing our critical thinking abilities? Employers seem to think so. A recent Harris Interactive survey of 1,000 hiring managers found that less than 50% of employers believe recent college hires are “very or completely prepared” for problem-solving tasks in the workplace. Meanwhile, philosopher Michael P. Lynch (author of The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Datastates that learning from Internet search – or as he coins it, “Google Knowing” is now the primary way knowledge is acquired.” According to Lynch, “Google-knowing has given us lots of benefits, but it doesn’t allow us to synthesize those facts all by itself. It can give us more facts… but in and of itself it doesn’t tell us how to understand what we’re processing. That is something that in a sense involves a whole different set of cognitive abilities.”

The opportunity to strengthen critical thinking and cognitive abilities is at the core of our 3rd and newest Execute Online Certificate program: Strategy @ HEC-Paris.  Like all our certificate programs – it includes 3 courses, asynchronous videos, live sessions, interactive forums, quizzes, case studies and a proctored 2-hour final exam. Graduates of the program will earn a credential and join the HEC Executive Community, an international community of 6,700 top managers, representing one of Europe’s premier business schools.

What is the study of strategy? In Strategy @ HEC-Paris we break the program down into 3 courses – Business Strategy, Corporate Strategy and Strategy Implementation. The goals for our students are three-fold: 1) be able to ask better “Brexit”-type questions, 2) understand the practical mechanics involved in rolling out a product, executing a merger, etc. and 3) overcome “Google Knowing” by better anticipating the events and developments that prove most critical to long-term business success.