Business Help from the Humanities

I believe one of the biggest challenges I had in seeking a new position was my background. I didn’t attend business school, have an MBA, or major in marketing or some other business focused major. Instead, I had a degree in interdisciplinary studies, spent ten years in non-profit management, a few in education, and a few in government.

None of this experience correlates to what HR in larger for-profit corporations seek out.

I was interested to read this piece in the Harvard Business Review blog, “Want Innovative Thinking? Hire From the Humanities” by Tony Golsby-Smith. The post notes:

  1. ”Business leaders around the world have told me that they despair of finding people who can help them solve wicked problems — or even get their heads around them.”
  2. “Intellectual wattage is not lacking. It’s the right intellectual wattage that’s hard to find. They simply don’t have enough people with the right backgrounds.”
  3. “This is because our educational systems focus on teaching science and business students to control, predict, verify, guarantee, and test data. It doesn’t teach how to navigate “what if” questions or unknown futures.”

And this is where the Humanities come into play according to Golsby-Smith.

The article then addresses how those who studied the Humanities are better trained/prepared to address complexity/ambiguity, innovation, communication and presentation, and customer and employee satisfaction.

So from a person with this background who fortunately made the transition, I call on more companies to look to do the same and not be so concerned that the individual’s lack of business training will hamper their ability to perform, but look at the upside potential.


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