How Management Training Broadens the Mind: A Message for Garcia
“The great benefit of studying management is not merely in gaining a qualification – though of course that is important too – as much as the personal development that students go through during the learning process.”
Lizz Clarke (source: www.hampshirechamber.co.uk)
Clarke says the framework in which the qualifications are obtained is what really makes a candidate attractive to employers.
“What’s important,” she explains, “is intellectual rigour: the change that someone goes through during the process of deep education. That’s almost more important than the end product of the qualification.”
Clarke, who is also chair of the business advisory board of the University of Portsmouth Business School, says: “Something very interesting happens when people go through some kind of formal learning.
“Though I know some incredibly clever and well-rounded people who don’t have qualifications, I have also worked with others without qualifications and somehow there’s a dimension missing. Education, formal learning experiences, can give people a depth they didn’t have before.”
Think About the Value of Your Qualifications to Your Employer
Clarke, a seasoned recruiter in her capacity as managing director of Logical Creative Marketing (LCM) http://www.lcm.co.uk, thinks the business qualification has to be part of a bigger package.
She says of job applicants: “I get frustrated at people who do a qualification just so they can put it on their CV. They’re not doing it to improve their employer’s business. If someone has an HND in business management but they have an inward-focused attitude it won’t help them or their employer. What matters is that they can demonstrate, in detail, what they can achieve for, and add to, their employer’s organisation.”
Management training has taken on a higher profile, she says, because of the rapid pace of change in business. “Things used to stay the same for longer, so structures were in place for years, but now things change more often, so it’s important to re-skill people. I remember 30 years ago management gurus saying change was a constant and it’s even truer today. It’s the manager’s job to be able to handle that change. As a manager you have to be prepared to grasp the nettle and hold it, however much it stings.”
She urges management students: “Use your learning to make things happen in your organisation. What you’re learning has to be used to benefit the company you’re working for.”
A Message to Garcia: A Lesson from Cuban History
For those students who are not yet in work, Clarke advises them to do work experience – or voluntary work for a charity – so that they are not studying for the sake of study, so that the skills they are learning can be tangibly applied to the operations of a workplace.
She cites an 1899 story called A Message to Garcia http://www.birdsnest.com/garcia.htm, which influenced her as a young businesswoman in the 1980s. The story tells of how a man who was asked to take a message to a Cuban insurgent leader went through huge inconvenience and danger to carry out his task. The relevance of the story to business is that it illustrates the need for initiative, self-reliance and enthusiasm in achieving a goal – all things that cannot be taught by universities and colleges.
“It is not book-learning young men need,” the author notes, “nor instruction about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies: do the thing.”
It’s that ability to “stiffen the vertebrae”, when added to academic achievements and a genuine interest in business, that particularly impresses employers, says Clarke.
“Can you put yourself out?” she asks. “Can you make something happen? Are you able to communicate and get people to do what you want them to do? I want to know what students and graduates have done in their lives that demonstrates a skill relevant to the workplace. And I need to believe that you can do what you say you can do, that you can help my clients.”#
Isn’t an MBA the Only Worthwhile Management Course?
What does she think about the MBA versus lower-level business qualification debate?
“If everyone in business had a management qualification I think it would make a big difference,” she replies, “because there would be a commonality in attitudes and knowledge; people would be on a similar page. Though an MBA is vital if you want to get into a very senior position, lower-level [management] qualifications can give a very valuable understanding of business and an appreciation of the corporate environment, which employers will appreciate.”