In some of my spare time, I actually google chemical engineering news just to keep up with current events. (I know it sounds so lame, but one must stay informed.) Just a few minutes ago I saw the following article from Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/top-ceos-study-engineering-2014-10.
In this article, the Harvard Business review compiled a list of the top 100 CEOs in the world. One individual they specifically mention is the head of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, who grew his company’s value to $140 billion. This is a noteworthy feat obviously, but it is specifically noteworthy because Bezos had a bachelor of Science in computer science and engineering.
According to the article, 24 of the 100 best performing CEOs have a degree in engineering, which is only 5 less than the 29 individuals who have MBAs on that list.
The Harvard Business School dean Nitin Nohria said “Studying engineering gives someone a practical, pragmatic orientation. Engineering also teaches you to try to do things efficiently and eloquently, with reliable outcomes, and with a margin of safety. These are principles that can be deeply important when you think about organizations.”
As I have previously stated in my blogs, I want to have my own makeup line after I spend some time working for a cosmetic company. If we’re being honest, I was always worried that I would not have enough business knowledge to make that dream a reality. That fear is one of the reasons I am pursuing a business minor. After reading this article, I realized there is a large amount of accuracy to what they were saying. I haven’t had a huge amount of exposure to engineering yet, seeing as I am only a sophomore, but from what I have gathered, the education engineers receive is multi-faceted and can be applied many ways.
For example, in my chemical engineering class, I am learning how to create balanced systems and solve for unknown variables with given information by applying past knowledge and making connections between what is given. If we applied this more broadly, I am looking a problem and combining past experience with new information to come up with the best possible solution. The phrase “best possible” can refer to a combination of things, such as: least time consuming, most cost-effective, simplest, or meets the most criteria. Ah yes, now that we generalized it, it sounds to me like that could apply to business decisions as well.
For a second example, let us start on the business side. Business presentations/meetings are a common thing. You can’t just show up and expect to make a presentation happen and convince people to support you. You need to prepare the slides, do your research, run through it a few times so you’re prepared, and THEN give the presentation, all within a strict deadline I might add. Once you win them over, you have to follow up on what you presented. Okay, now engineering. Think about labs! We have three hours to complete a lab that involved pre-work and post-work. I couldn’t successfully complete my labs in that allotted time if I didn’t take the time to read through the procedure a few times and understand the concepts involved in the experiment. Also, afterwards I have to reflect on what I learned, process it, and answer questions about it. The idea of pre-work, work, and post-work is applicable to both business and science.
My main point is something I alluded to in a previous blog, but I will repeat: learning isn’t completely about the lectures and regurgitation on tests, it is also about the broader application. To be a good student means having the ability to make these connections! Be creative and think outside the box.