The P.A.

A weekly address from Patrick Adams,
President of St. Louis Community Credit Union

You Won’t Get All The Answers From A Textbook

On April 16th, 2012, posted in: Uncategorized by

Years ago, I said to anybody who would listen (a scant group, as I recall) that I would gladly exchange a business degree for a psychology degree any time.  My point was that the data dump of accounting and finance nuts and bolts isn’t exclusively what is needed to survive long-term in the business world.

The workforce would be much better served by flexible thinkers with innovative ideas. What is needed in the office setting today is critical thinking and problem-solving skills.  Deductive reasoning and discernment are the hallmark of today’s business leaders, not content knowledge.

Being able to motivate people to accept and assimilate the purpose of the organization as their own is far more valuable than fully understanding some “Efficiency Frontier” graph that defines “risk vs. reward” in investment programs.  I’d rather have the guy who knows the nuances and has a sixth sense regarding investing than the guy who knows where to plot the points on a graph.

I believe that students from a non-finance background have a far better viewpoint as to what is needed to be successful in a diverse and demanding marketplace than does a “bean counter” whose perspective is narrow and regimented.  To survive in the financial services industry, we need people who have an ethics background.  We need people who understand social responsibility, sustainability and anthropology.  These skills give us a better chance of survival than does another data pusher.

Sure, technical training is a part of it.  So is analytical know-how.  But give me a young person who has a well-rounded background inclusive of the humanities, and my guess is we’ll be better off long-term.  I can teach the business formulas; I can’t teach the people piece.

How ‘bout the guy who managed a mom & pop grocery store during college?  Did he actually learn more from the day-to-day practical application of his people skills in the workplace?  Or did he learn more in that lecture hall discussing some manufacturing model from the early days of the industrial revolution every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.?  I think you know my answer.

Recently, I helped a bright young man with his homework from a Business 101 class held at the local U.  Mind you, we have been mired in the hangover of the worst recession in the history of our country now for the better part of three years.  As a result, there must be a thousand business cases to be contemplated and discussed regarding our current times.  No, his case study dealt with the impact of disease-infested chicken in Indonesia and the impact on their egg production during some fictitious period of time.  No kidding. 

Really?  That’s the best they could do?  I mean – REALLY?

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