Ruhl says technology companies like Infor can help universities shape their courses so that they are more in tune with businesses' needs today.
She is also looking at running more internship and graduate programs in New Zealand and Australia, and bringing similar learning programs Infor has started across the globe.
One of these is the ‘Green Bean Program’, an “internal accelerated learning experience” for new university graduates with limited business experience.
The participants are partnered with trainers and assigned a specially certified mentor to provide business professionalism coaching and individualised career planning across 18 months. Initiated in 2008, more than 500 individuals worldwide have successfully completed the program.
The young people of today have grown up in a world where everything is possible… Their frame of reference is so wide.
Another program is the Internship and Educational Alliance Programs launched by Infor CEO Charles Phillips late last year. This program is available to three groups – educational institutions, not for profits, and industry associations.
The program includes scholarships, internships, software and training materials for professors to use in the classroom and laboratory work, and the building of centres of excellence for research.
“In all my past experiences with different companies, you get the most benefit from having graduates who bring fresh thinking into the organisation,” says Ruhl, who was vice president Asia Pacific for Oracle, before she joined Infor over a year ago.
“The great thing about young people today is they have grown up in a world where everything is possible,” she adds. “You can get on a computer and you would be talking to someone in Russia in the middle of the night playing a game. Their frame of reference is so wide.”
She says her focus on training the next generation of skilled staff is one of the reasons why Infor’s sponsorship of The Crusaders includes a University Rugby Scholarship.
The first scholar, Matt Morrison, a mechanical engineering student at the University of Canterbury, attended the ceremony in Christchurch announcing Infor’s four-year partnership with the most successful team in Super Rugby history.
Morrison is looking to being selected for the 2015 Canterbury U19 team, with the ultimate goal of making the New Zealand U20 team in 2016 and a future in professional rugby.
She says Infor aims to get a scholar every year. Aside from the financial support, she says the scholars will be given the chance to work at Infor or projects for its customers during the school breaks.
“It is one way we can continue to show our support for the city, the region and the rebuild of the city following the devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011,” says Ruhl.
Ruhl was completing her doctorate in law when she was asked to work on a software project. She decided she wanted to do that and started as a junior business analyst at a software company.
“Any field of study is never a loss if it teaches you how to think, reason and learn,” she says on how she felt leaving the legal profession. She says having the ability to adopt and do new things, and welcome change “has given me a career that is sensational”.
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