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Education is more important than ever in today's business world, because the Internet will soon "level the playing field on a global basis," John Chambers, president and CEO of Cisco Systems, told a standing room only crowd in the Stata Center's Kirsch Auditorium on Sept. 8.
MIT President Susan Hockfield introduced Chambers as "one of the outstanding business leaders of his day."
Chambers' talk on "The Power of the Network to Change the Way We Work, Live, Play and Learn" was sponsored by the Office of Corporate Relations and Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL). Cisco employs 100 MIT graduates.
Chambers said he sees a troubling trend: Other countries are beating out America in broadband subscriptions, education and productivity. "It is a battle that is hard to win," he said.
Comparing the business world to "a multidimensional chess game," Chambers spoke of the importance of education, an arena in which he feels the United States has fallen behind.
"We are not preparing our students in this country," Chambers said. Speaking to a crowd at MIT that "leads in innovation" is great, he said, but he emphasized that more attention needs to be paid to kindergarten through 12th grade.
Additionally, he worries about gender diversity. Many women are already lost to the computer science field by the time they finish the sixth grade, he said.
In order for the United States to remain globally viable, some changes need to be made, he said.
"We are not putting our best and brightest where the jobs are," he said. "That needs to change."