The Rise of STEM and its Impact on Education, Careers, and Industry

The Rise of STEM and its Impact on Education, Careers, and Industry

I had the honour of being invited back to my high school a couple of weeks ago to describe some of my experiences at the cross-section of finance and STEM (as it’s now come to be called) and answer some great questions from the students.

For those that are not familiar with the acronym “STEM”, it stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and has become increasingly popular as a reference to career opportunities within the sciences.



Once upon a time, not all that long ago, if a student was interested in STEM and was commercially driven then he/she was usually constrained to medicine and any entrepreneurial opportunities were generally limited to the biotech field. Outside of this, career opportunities would lead one to the halls of academia. This has changed.

When I was at school and someone was academically inclined and looking for financial independence they generally focused on finance, law, or, to a lesser extent, medicine. I myself opted for the former and gave up my studies in the STEM areas due to the lack of commercial opportunities (and have recently spent the best part of a year in my “spare time” on Coursera and edX playing catch-up programming neural nets and building robots).


The world has changed and commercial opportunities using STEM skills are only limited by one’s imagination — what was once science fiction is now not only science fact, but also a business opportunity. Flying cars, interplanetary travel, fusion reactors, quantum computing — there are several companies now competing in these spaces, and some with revenue.


Photo Credit: The Scots College


I believe that the tide is turning and that STEM is becoming an increasingly important collective of skills that will be required as standard underlying the advancement of every industry, from manufacturing through to finance and even law, and that more resources need to be dedicated to supporting these areas. No industry is safe from the revolutions that have started.

What this all means however for society, especially with regards to automation, is another matter and a subject for another day. In the meantime, it is with excitement that I watch increasing amounts of human resources and brain power pour into this area away from finance and law — the potential positive impact is huge and no problem too big to solve.


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