How Learning Shapes Your Career

To advance in business today, you need to build a strong foundation in the classroom, and you also need to embrace the idea of continuous learning. I learned at an early age the importance of education because my mother was a teacher. My wife and sister also were teachers, and they reinforced the value of education within our family. Through them and my own experiences, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of both formal and informal learning.
Laying the foundation:
My formal education – a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in business administration – prepared me very well for a career at Chevron. I believe my MBA, from the University of Chicago, has served me particularly well over the years – it instilled in me a way of thinking. The MBA program’s approach to problem solving involved multiple disciplines, including accounting, statistics and behavioral science. And it culminated with teaching me how to integrate those disciplines in order to solve problems.
I encountered a long list of challenges over the course of my 37 years with Chevron. But I know the framework that the University of Chicago gave me enabled me to take uncertain facts and uncertain times and meld them together to make business decisions that would work for the company.
The university’s MBA program also deepened my understanding of the virtues of free markets, as championed by Milton Friedman. I am a big supporter of free markets, and I loved the way he talked about problems, the way he wasn’t afraid to give his views on subjects and the way he could explain his views so that anybody could understand. I have worked hard at learning to do the same.
Learning on the job:
Although my studies provided me with the foundation I needed in order to begin my career, I learned a lot on the job. I was open to new opportunities and to taking assignments beyond my area of expertise. I continued to learn a great deal throughout my career. All that learning made me a candidate for CEO of Chevron and, ultimately, enabled me to serve in that role for eight years.
Regardless of your particular strength when you come into this or any company, over time you’ll have to grow in other areas in order to advance. You must be willing to continually upgrade your skills, push yourself into new areas and learn from colleagues in other disciplines. You also must develop strong “people skills” – understanding people, being a good listener, asking good questions and being collaborative. These skills are not easily taught in an academic environment. But they’re important for people who want to be successful in the business world.
Developing skills for the future:
Jobs are getting more technical, and going forward, skills that have a technical underpinning will be essential for anyone who wants to compete. Even those who don’t choose a career in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) would do well to be STEM literate because these disciplines are going to be critical to the workforce of the future.
Although many people think of Chevron as simply an energy company, we are, in fact, a technology company whose product is energy. If we can get more young people interested in STEM fields, then we have a better chance of growing the pool of young people we can draw from who are able to do the advanced technical work and who also have the necessary critical thinking skills, collaborative skills and creativity.
Supporting education:
For our country to continue to be successful and competitive, it’s important that we invest in our education system and in our students. A strong K–12 education sets the foundation for higher learning and a successful career. I’m honored that Chevron is recognizing my tenure as chairman and CEO with a contribution to the BASIC Fund to support low-income students in the San Francisco Bay Area. Coming from a family of educators, I could not be prouder of this commitment to the future.
Powered by Blogger.