So much has been said about the skills needed to succeed in today’s workforce and we talk about how this nation has to invest in furthering education for under-skilled workers – we often don’t focus on the specific foundation of what will truly make an employee viable. And often the answer begins with skills that are seemingly much simpler than we imagine.
Yes, engineering, computer programming, the tech-focused skills are golden in today’s economy with advantages in the rules of supply and demand in the workforce. But, in developing a curriculum with a solid base of skills, those institutions tasked with the role of preparing workers for today’s workforce ought to give credence to the so-called soft skills (an unfortunate label, indeed).
Berkshire Community College recruiter Eleanore Velez explains in an interview on Good Morning Pittsfield that the critical core competencies, needed to be mastered by all graduates, are built on communication, writing, and even public speaking. In a day in age when we are plugged into countless interfaces that place numerous barriers in front of face-to-face interactions, it’s fair to suggest that the formal teaching of these skills is more important than ever. Interestingly, they are the most transferable skills, based on real life examples.
Velez pointed to 2001 BCC graduate Mauricio O’Connell whose professional evolution is as fascinating as it is unique and inspiring. The former math and engineering student would go on to receive his bachelor’s at Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute.
During O’Connell’s recent guest lecture at his alma mater BCC he admitted that, in spite of his math and engineering prowess, he just didn’t enjoy it enough to be an engineer for the rest of his professional life. He wanted to be inspired by the work he did.
So, following up his engineering degree, he took a 180-turn and earned an MBA in marketing and finance from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He’s distinguished himself with work as a brand manager with Proctor & Gamble, in particular on the innovative Old Spice “Smell Like A Man” campaign. The campaign drove an explosive buzz for its creative risk-taking and forward-thinking use of social media to make a viral impact with a much smaller marketing budget than most of its competitors. Check out one of the Smell Like a Man commercials on Youtube.
O’Connell, a native of Guatemala, never would have been able to follow his passion if he didn’t own the core competencies outside of his original focus of math and engineering.
As Velez says, “everyone needs to know how to do a presentation, everyone needs to know how to write a report.”
Isn’t accepted that most people would rather die than speak in public? Doesn’t sound like a soft skill to me.
Being in enough boardrooms over the years, I am often surprised how poorly very bright and talented people communicate. While it opens up a realm of opportunities for communications professionals, advocating and explaining your particular well-researched views is often as, or more, important than the actual work you do.
President of OneEighty Media, Inc., John Krol serves as Director of Accounts and lead communications consultant for this full-service marketing, communications and advertising firm. John’s extensive experience in journalism, broadcasting, public relations, government relations, SEM, community outreach and marketing provides a unique perspective for businesses looking to re-energize and diversify their marketing efforts.