Your Greatest Asset: People vs. Performance

Hello, colleagues and friends. My 2018 cohort and I are in our last term of business school before we head off to the next chapter of our careers. Most of us will graduate with 54 credits or more, which consisted of qualitative and quantitative courses. As an incoming student, you can expect that you will work on teams for multiple assignments in every class. The objective of these teams is not only to learn, but also to earn the highest grade possible. The experience of working with teammates from all backgrounds has led me to reflect on what is most important to a successful team: people or performance.

I value and want both. I want to enjoy the time I spend with my teams but I also want results. I encourage you to construct teams that will give you the optimal balance of strategic insight and substantive analytics. A big challenge of elective classes is that  professors stop making the teams for students, and we have to build the teams ourselves. One needs to build a reputation of being a great teammate, strategic enough to develop reasonable hypotheses for recommendations, and strong enough quantitatively to bring precision to those recommendations. 

You soon realize if you are being asked to be on teams or if you are scrambling to find a team. Your place in the b-school team ecosystem is correlated with your ability of being good with people AND with numbers.  I believe this occurrence in business school is a sample of what happens in real life. Here are salient points you should think about as you build your career, reputation, and skill-sets in hopes of being successful.

1. It’s Not Just Who You Know

Spoiler alert: it is not just who you know, but who you are. This book held the latter point until the last chapter, but upon reflection, Tommy Spaulding Jr. told his story and it was true that he was sought after because of his intentions, actions, and ability. People can get you into the room for that interview or even the job, but it is on you to convert that interview or get promoted based on your performance. 

2. Future Marketplace Demand for Highly-skilled Workers

We have seen industries be completely revolutionized, invented, or disrupted. Many “blue-collar” or “factory” jobs which were once protected by unions, were outsourced overseas. This created a large gap in the American workforce, a polarization of extremely highly-technical or service-oriented jobs. I believe even the STEM jobs  are also under threat of being automated. We see artificial intelligence moving into the investing industry overtaking a once in-demand active investing employee. This posits that quantitatively analytical and tech-savvy workers need to increase their own value not only by being able to crunch the numbers, but also by connecting with other talent to generate theories that become inputs to our beloved machines.  

3. Be Good to People & Never Stop Learning

I highly recommend reading the book below by Dale Carnegie to understand the importance of being great with people. I also encourage you to never stop learning by going to workshops or association events in your industry, learning a new skill online like at, or finding mentors who have deep industry knowledge and can guide you on where to go next in your career. 

Go get them folks! My next blog will be “I Have New Goals & They Scare Me”.

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