Corporates have long been emphasizing and underlining this aspect of there being no correlation between Education and Employability. The seemingly sharpest of Engineers are happy doing some of the most redundant jobs. They were refrained from asking too many questions as students. And now, they are too conditioned to not ask questions in their existing job profiles. Some of the sharpest Engineers from some of the sharpest institutes, but never sharpened to be imaginative. Never engineered to be enterprising. Look around and it’s not a case of over-qualified professionals stuck in monotonous jobs. It’s more a case of under-inquisitive professionals very rightly mapped to the jobs they are possibly the best at – clear, unambiguous, process-driven. ‘Ratta maar’ jobs!
Growing up in value-chain can never be achieved by being served highly intellectual projects on a platter. As it goes in the Bournrville advertisement, “You do not buy a Bournville, you earn it!”
An exciting job profile is necessarily an acknowledgment and award of some exciting ideas. You don’t graduate to intellectually-stimulating projects by demanding for it. You exhibit Intellectually-stimulating ideas and thoughts and then graduate to such projects. Your clients and stakeholders will never ask you to do rocket science, till the time you don’t educate them about the impact of rocket science and infuse (their) confidence in your capabilities to do so! But how will you exhibit such rocket science traits amidst your existing ‘A, B, C, D…’ job profile? Now that’s a classic Catch 22 and that’s something that you’ll have to imaginatively figure it out for yourself.
It’s odd to be quoting a cliché in this piece on imaginative thinking. But perhaps some clichés are unavoidable and necessary to drive home a point - “Ask not what your job has done for you, rather challenge what you have done for your job”.
Look around for all those goody-two shoes toppers and front-benchers in your school and college. Are they necessarily at the top of their game? Are they the front-runners in their professional avatars as well? Ummmm….not exactly, right?
During an interview for the position of head of an analytic team, I questioned a potential candidate on a simple aptitude problem. A problem that involved calculating the area of a circle. He fumbled and had retorted “But how is that important to my role? And as it is, it was too far back in school. Can’t exactly recollect the formula.” Can’t recollect the area of circle formula? You were the Math topper mate! “But we do have Google and all the advanced tools and techniques for formulae.”
Another potential candidate, who had been at a very senior position in a reputed consulting firm, was asked to run me through his most acclaimed project. Some project where advanced analytics was put to best use with some very insightful and actionable results. I requested, “Walk me through your statistical/analytical approach to the problem”. He was deadpan in his response “But, I had teams doing it!!”
Yes Google will answer everything and there will be teams doing the groundwork. But as leaders if you don’t know the basics of flying, why would I hand you a pilot’s license? Won’t it be a recipe for disaster? Yes, leaders are meant to provide directions, navigate teams and clients, steer thought processes. But it would be dangerous to be led by an explorer captain and hope to discover America. As they say, Hope can’t be a strategy.
Yes, the area of circle formula was way back in your school. You crammed it up then, topped the grades and then started focusing on the new syllabus and paper patterns.