Learning @ University of Life

Learning fuels growth. The continuity in growth brings in the competitive edge . It remains the source of sustenance to survive. This learning begins with education which essentially shares knowledge in a systematic pattern. But later as an individual moves beyond an education system i.e. a college level degree,  it moulds into experiential learning as absorbed from the environment. The discipline with which the learning is inculcated and implemented through action while making decisions ensures growth and success.
Dr. Ndubuisi Ekekwe wrote in HBR Blog ” Does an entrepreneur need a college degree?” He discussed the importance of learning and education. This discussion was triggered by the recent announcement by Peter Thiel , founder Pay Pal to support the entrepreneurship in teenagers. Here we share the discussion that we had with him.
Citeman: Nice Article. Mr. Thiel deserves credit for providing the support, but orientation is quintessential. If it doesn’t come from the natural environment, it would be detrimental to the youngsters. It’s best to trust the education system with that orientation and then avail the support offered by him.
Even in situations, with career transition or economic cycles there can be disruptions in learning. Education may not remain available or affordable, yet ensuring personal learning remains the only way out!          
Dr. Ndubuisi Ekekwe: Yes. You can never fault a billionaire. I would have preferred driving the vision through schools so that we can scale the revamped program across the nation. He has a great vision and we must commend him, but I would have wished it went through the natural environment as you said.
Citeman: We are in India. Your article is presented at the right time. Entrepreneurship is taking off in India. But thankfully due to comparatively lower cost of education and the learning oriented value system, we are still deeply rooted in completing education before we start our career.
Here’s an example from job holders, during recession many professionals lost their jobs. Mr. X is one of them, who holds a BTech Degree and MBA, both being premier institutes in India. When he was retrenched by a major IT Firm, he joined an e-learning company, as a product head . Whereas the others, who were less equipped than him, went through long term unemployment. Incidentally, they were qualified, but not from an A-list college. Situations like this make it difficult to survive with jobs, for the ones who didn’t even receive the college level education.
The point is, education provides a fall back plan and continuity, when everything fails. It stands true irrespective of age and level. Consequently, true to your word, it’s a risk worth taking!
About Citeman, we are a knowledge management community with more than 1.3 million members worldwide. Our knowledgebase is free to use for our members. The members are generally the MBA students, professionals, educationists and entrepreneurs. We are thankful to the authors and management leaders for contributing and mentoring our members. Mr. Kasturi Narashimham, who co-authored a book with Hubert Rampersad is one of our moderators.
Your article came in an alignment to what we work for. We are creating and managing a business-oriented knowledgebase, so that education and mentoring is free and available for every learner. Thank you for inspiring us, in our endeavours.
Dr. Ndubuisi Ekekwe: Thank you for this detailed email. I came to US from Nigeria and later got a PhD from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. I have founded companies in Nigeria, yet, I write books. One just won book of the year award: http://us1.campaign-archive.com/?u=b904ea6e3930233a2979c71df&id=19496148bb
I am an Adjunct Professor of engineering in a Nigerian university and work for a big semiconductor firm in the US. The truth is that education makes all the difference in the world, including US. With education, you have confidence and opportunities open. Without education, I will not be writing weekly for HBR and others. My company does a lot of projects with Indian firms: http://fasmicro.com/default.aspx
The whole experience of the developing world is the same. People must use education as a back-up. In US it works also. I have seen friends that failed as entrepreneurs that went into academics because they have PhDs. Without those degrees, life might not be fun to them. I agree on all your points. There is no equivalent to education and I can challenge billionaire Thiel on that.
Citeman: We are glad you shared about your work and applaud the effort you have made. We congratulate you on the success of your book. This discussion has been thought provoking and inspiring for us. We thank you for your words and time. We recently had an article, in our Management Article section which is a part of Citeman Network newsletter, where we did raise the debate between education and experience. There were lot more points which came up from it. One of them was the quality of education as an integral factor. We believe it’s a combination of individual effort and interest for intellectual development coupled with guidance from Guru.
Our point is not selling an education or contesting any system, but to appeal and advocate the continuous effort to gain the competitive edge, through intellectual capabilities. We believe it doesn’t merely include the college level student, but everyone in the University of Life. There would be disruption due to economic cycles. One may not have the infrastructural support to continue or avail the institutional education. Yet making that effort to propel ahead through every available source would hold the trump card irrespective of the period of deep stagnation.
Dr. Ndubuisi Ekekwe: Great. Please go ahead. I approve it. Thank you for sharing this work. I thank all those who commented on the post. It is being translated into Chinese by a business school. But there was nothing really new in that piece.
Citeman: We completely agree that we all are repeating the words and values that have been timeless. We are reinstating so that we can support the ones who wouldn’t be successful and find continuity for them. Additionally we agree with what Dev Dutt says – education has now become a business – and thus the cliché of the “Degree” is attached to it. You pay for, work tirelessly to earn that degree from a reputed premier college. The more premier the college, the greater would be the value of the degree, as the employer knows it must have been tough competition to get in to that premier college. The degree is an undeniable proof that you know the subject – and as mentioned before the reputation of the college is part of that undeniable proof.
So does anyone require a degree – yes – people need to prove they know the subject and have studied it. Does an entrepreneur need a degree – no – they don’t need to prove anything as they themselves are the employers in most cases – but they need education. As an entrepreneur  we believe constantly studying, reading about new technologies, trying to figure out new innovative changes that can be brought into the organization. Being an entrepreneur is like going back to pre-historic times where education was not a compulsion, it was an open university – where you would learn from the Guru’s. As mentioned by Dev Dutt  On CiteMan – http://goo.gl/l99ez [Episode 5 Seg 2] Today, the internet is becoming that Open University – and our gurus are giving interviews, writing articles & creating videos for everyone.
Ultimately, we reflect continuous learning in a disciplined approach and to implement and share remains integral to success. This stands true for any professional irrespective of the fact that they are in jobs or in an entrepreneurial venture.

Ref: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/12/does_an_entrepreneur_need_a_co.html

  • Simhan

    I take the view that getting qualified and getting educated are two different things. Especially in underdeveloped countries, there are many qualified people who are not necessarily educated. Richard Branson may not have gained a university degree; however, I consider him as educated and lucky (as he himself says one should be).Life-long learning is a must. The best way to learn is to teach. That’s why I contribute to CiteHr and also conduct seminars and workshops in India. For example, I used to conduct Workshops on how to publish in refreed journals for Management reserchers. I was requested to do the same for medics. So, I had to learn what is different about the field of medicine. One of the key factors is ethical issues. So, I have downlaoded 100+ pages from the internet and reading them.As I have to market myself, I visit colleges and/or telephone principals and introduce myself. Now two medical institutions, in Bangalore, are intersted in arranging Faculty Development on publishing papers.To keep learning I act as a Book Reviewer/Review Editor for couple of journals published by the Emerald Publishing Group, UK. (http://www.emeraldinsight.com). Bloggers can access abstracts of articles free