I’ve been working for a small company over the last two weeks. The senior partners are a real pair of assholes, and they treat all the trainees and juniors like pieces of turd.
But I get along rather well with middle management. But the thing I sense the most from them is (whilst not a hatred per say) a sort of subtle laughter or snickering at those in the financial sector who are academics, or students.
Guys who study in this field (whether at college or whether they further on and become professors) are according to my managers, a bunch of useless morons who wouldn’t last five minutes in the “real world” of business. Only people who actually work in a firm-oriented environment are worthy of any mention. It’s almost like they look down on these academics with disgust.
Why is this? Why has there been this traditional notion (specially in any financial sector) of viewing academics as pathetic people who don’t know how to cut it?
And does this mean that I should quit my plans of going on to further my studies in the finances (which I’ve been planning to save up money for)??? Is it just a useless waste of time??? Will it teach me nothing???
I’m really confused right now, because I found my studies in both Accounting and Economics extremely interesting. I actually wanted to learn more (I know, ain’t it crazy?) about how the economy works, and the circulation of money through it. But these guys have put me off.
They basically are saying if I go down that road I’ll be screwed for life coz I won’t have enough working experience and therefore live like an academic (making peanuts all the way). This is not how I envisioned it.
None of them are educated beyond a college level. I want to have enough money to be stable in my life, but now I’m scared I won’t be able to do what I want to (study further) because it will screw up my time.
Are all business academics useless??? Know any that make money??? I always thought it was a good thing to have lots of knowledge.
“Guys who study in this field (whether at college or whether they further on and become professors) are according to my managers, a bunch of useless morons who wouldn’t last five minutes in the “real world” of business. Only people who actually work in a firm-oriented environment are worthy of any mention. It’s almost like they look down on these academics with disgust.”
I’m not too sure what the problem is:
Are they looking down at professors? Or at education in general?
Both are rather short-sided opinions, one that will not lead their organization to much long-term success. Sounds to me that the problem is with their imaginations, in that they think there is only one “real” way to earn a living. You don’t need people that limited in their thinking giving you career advice, imho.
Well, there is the old saying “Those who can’t do, teach” which could explain some of the annomosity.
Take it from an academic who works for a bank: the described behaviour is pure insecurity, possibly coupled with jealousy because an academic title will render you a fatter pay check, ceteris paribus.
If you want to go to universoty, then by all means, do it. It’s a choice you don’t have to justify to anyone but yourself. The managers you’re talking about seem to look down on a theoretical understanding of economics, whereas that theoretical understanding can be of great value in practice. Unless, of course, you’re satisfied with doing the monkey tricks you were trained without expanding upon them, learning from them, or being able to question them when they’re stupid or insufficient.
There’s no such thing as too much knowledge, even though the fact that you have it might fill others with fear or envy.
[sub]Edited to correct my erroneous spelling of “ceteris paribus”. Yeesh.[/sub]
Knowledge is power. How you use it is a reflection of your character. I have two degrees, one in applied math, and the other in Computer Science - both of those degrees I got in the mid 1980’s so times have changed of course.
In my experience, corporate environments aren’t for me - I prefer to be in charge of my own destiny. By and large, I’ve found that corporate environments tend to breed corporate assassins who’ll stab you in the back every chance they get.
So… I own my own business and have 8 employees. I haven’t worked for a corporation for 3 and a half years. Interestingly, I also haven’t worn office clothes or a “tie” in 3 and a half years either. I threw out all those clothes a year ago.
Fucking felt great man - fucking great.
I suppose I’ll have to talk to a Bank dude again some day. I can only pray it’ll be someone like Coldfire. He’ll understand why I showed up in a 1966 Shelby Mustang wearing a t-shirt and cargo pants for a business meeting.
But I’m cash flow positive these days so I hope it’s a long way off.
Xavier - What exactly do you do? The only part of the financial sector that I am aware of where education might not be valued is in sales. And then it’s in firms that hire a hundred meatheads a year, pay them $200 a week until they get their Series 7 and then set them to work on the phones until they either make money or quit.
Keep in mind that people who work in small firms can often be small minded. They see the world in terms of their little sphere of influence while an advanced degree may open doors to bigger and better opportunities for you.
Besides, most of the good professors I had in business school were former CEOs or bankers or McKinsey consultants and such.
I’m currently getting my MBA and work with professors closely. The classes I’m taking are exceptionally useful, interesting, and teach me skills that I can use in my current job.
I think the attitude described in the OP is an old school opinion from way back when business professors just taught theory and wrote business cases meanwhile working the rigorous 11 hour workweek.
Academics in finance and business nowadays are quite active in the “real world” working as consultants or even holding down a second job, while still writing business cases for tenure, teaching, and holding office hours. They usually do quite well financially - like seven figures.
So, these people are useless morons? What about the geniuses at Enron, Worldcom or Healthsouth? Whatever…
Ignore the people you work with and further your own education - just get into a good business school!
On the other hand, my MBA has done jack shit for me professionally.
Pointy Hair Bosses are of course complete idiots. As a self-defense mechanism they create fictional reasons why educated, intelligent people aren’t as good as them. In all fields of business, there is a bias against academics as know-nothings. It really is the other way around. Sadly, the creator of the PHB ideal, Scott Adams, also feels this way. Sigh.
An example, companies love to hire my students. They don’t think I know anything and that I am out-of-date since I got my degree so long ago… Umm, I only taught those students a tiny fraction of what I know. What I taught them cannot be more current than what I know. I point this out and get blank stares.
Sorry to say this ftg but you got a blank stare from me too I’m afraid.
I read your last paragraph about 7 times and I still don’t get it. Sorry buddy.
Seems like there is a lot of emphasis on ethics these days at business schools. The real-world financial people probably can’t relate.
Mindless number-crunching. It’s basically all the dog work (I’m a junior trainee) - sorting files, adding up sales/purchase invoices and tax returns. Although I guess some experience is better than none, clearly I don’t wanna be stuck doing this shit all of my life. Nor do I intend to. But the thing is, the guys in the company keep telling me I’m better off trying to gain more working experience rather than attempt to pursue what they term “a useless academic career”. This basically includes any real “study” of commerce, period.
Any type of study in the financial fields. Basically they think that the only way to gain any real knowledge in the working world is to go get working experience, instead of “wasting” time studying it.
I can understand what they mean to a point, but like Boo Boo Foo says, I always thought knowledge was power. So it strikes me as odd when people working in finance + commerce sector(s) tell me it is effectively a “waste of time” to attempt to learn stuff. Anyone who knows me will tell you that whenever I put my mind into doing something, I need to learn tons of stuff about it, it’s just something I like doing. I like to have the knowledge, and it feels like (in this case at least) that knowledge will be worth nothing.
I think that one of the main advantages of advanced academic programs in finance or business is part of the reason that these fellows are down on such programs.
A good academic program in most fields, including business, isn’t really about teaching the specific skills that students will use when they enter the job market. Instead, it’s about exposing students to the broader concepts and theories underlying the field. With this broader exposure, graduates should both be able to quickly pick up the necessary skills and adapt those skills in the changing marketplace.
From those middle managers’ point of view, the academic training doesn’t really help the juniors, whom they really just want to apply specific skills in their jobs. However, later in one’s career, the academic training can be vital in moving beyond a position that merely involves applying specific skills.
My perspective is that of someone with an undergrad degree from an exceedingly highly regarded business school. When I started out as an accountant in a major firm, it was clear that I didn’t have as much specific training in the tasks done by a first year accountant as the graduates of many other schools with a less academic focus. However, it was also clear from the backgrounds of those higher up in the firm that the more general academic training was highly useful later in a career. Personally, I left accounting after a couple of years and went to law school, but my academic business training has been very helpful in the law as well.
Why don’t you try finding out what THE ACADEMICS say about depreciation of durable consumer goods and planned obsolescence. Galbraith mentioned PO in 1959. Samuelson called him an iconoclast and talked about a guild of economists.
Have you heard any ACADEMICS saying that accounting should be mandatory in highschool? It’s 700 year olde fifth grade arithmatic.
The system depends on people who think they are smart, hiding information from people that are supposed to be dumb.
“Look out kid, they keep it all hid.” - Bob Dylan
School is just another scam where they dribble out information as slowly as possible. see:
YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE by Joe Dominguez
WALL STREET by Doug Henwood
Why isn’t there a national recommended reading list? Would a good list make it too easy for too many people to know too much?
Mess up the information hiding games.
Dal Timgar, the cynic
We just couldn’t have a business-related thread without dal ranting about depreciation and conspiracy theories.
Are academics incompetent? Of course not; some people just LIKE teaching. I’m sure there are some dimwits teaching business classes, but there are also dimwits running businesses.
So why the animosity? Because, frankly, there is animosity between groups in business. People dislike those who think differently. It’s part of the scene. In my company the revenue-generating folks hate the salespeople, won’t even go into their area to ask a question. Scheduling hates IT, IT hates everyone. Nobody likes senior management, and senior management hates the other divisions of the mother corporation. It’s hardly a surprise businesspeople hate academics, that’s an even greater difference than the little differences inside my company.
Thereby quite clearly supporting my contention.
Ick, who would want to work for a company who thought book larnin’ was useless, or a threat.
Lots of companies seek out MBAs and PhDs, and pay them enough money to make the rest of us envious, so the attitude you speak of is (thankfully) not universal. I think this attitude you’re encountering says a lot about the managers you work for.
Then again, this is coming from me, a member of the VAST CONSPIRACY to keep all knowledge locked away and doled out only to those we deem worthy. rubs hands together gleefully
Some people, especially people who either did not enjoy their academic experience or did not have the same opportunities as others, who create their own successfeel a need to thumb their nose at those people who did pursue academic achievement. It’s like they feel a need to revel in their ignorance.
There is also the belief that real world learnin’ is better than book learnin’.
Usually it’s jealousy or ignorance. The uneducated admin at one of my last jobs thought she was the smartest person in the world because she was an admin at some consulting giant before and thought she could run the company just because she knew how to file everything. Well, there’s more to running a company than filing and pushing paper.
I think that people who make a big point of eschewing academics are jealous or insecure. There is absolutely no reason to not get a formal education, if you can afford to do so. Sometimes, just having that piece of paper (degree) can open doors for you. For that reason alone the degree is worth pursuing, I should think.
However, no matter how impressive the degree is, you’ve got to be able to cut it in the business world. Assuming that you can, how exactly could a degree hurt? I can’t think of one intelligent reason to not go for a formal education. More education is always better than less, as long as you’ve got your head screwed on straight.
I don’t know much about the business world, (my area is art), but I do know of people who are so full of pride over their academic achievements that they will discount those who do not have a degree. This to me is just as bad as discounting academics (like the bosses in the OP have done). There are a lot of people who have learned things in an “unorthadox” way (i.e. not through a formal education), so why assume that because they don’t have a degree, they must not know anything?
I also know people who are so full of their academic achievements that they think that it should garner them “instant respect”–like they don’t have to do anything else. (I see this a lot in the art world. They’ve got a degree, so no need to show that they know how to draw or paint or anything like that.)
So it’s all a balance. I absolutely think that the bosses, as described in the OP, are bitter and jealous. However, every once in a while you’ll meet a pointy-headed academic who is very “puffed up” and doesn’t really see the forest for the trees. And such academic snobs probably set the defensive non-academics off, and so we have this conflict of attitudes going on.
The managers don’t have higher degrees, yet they are telling you it’s worthless? How could they know the difference?
Look, if the costs (time and money) of getting an MBA weren’t worth the payoff then nobody would do it anymore.