Managing Complexity & Achieving Industry Dominance with Chris Hummel
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Chris Hummel: And I remember very early in my career actually when I was just less than a year out of graduate school. I was doing a consulting job off in Kiev, Ukraine with AT&T in one of their joint ventures over there and I met a boss who said to me, she looked at my profile. And as I mentioned earlier, I came from academic, State Department, diplomatic background and I was really worried. I said, “Look. If I try and get into this business arena, this terrible cut-throat gladiatorial warfare, I didn’t go to Harvard Business School. I didn’t go to Wharton, I didn’t go to Tuck. Am I going to be okay?”
Chris Hummel: And she gave me a great piece of advice that helped me both early in my career and later. And she said, “You will really struggle for the first couple of jobs because you won’t have the tool set. You might have the intellect but you won’t have the actual tool set on how to tackle a lot of these problems you’re going to confront or these challenges or opportunities.”
Chris Hummel: And she said, “And the people from those prestigious business schools, they will have a foundation of tools that they will be able to bring to any situation and they’ll have that credibility of having come from a business school where you will struggle for the first couple of jobs. But once you get to that third job or that fourth job, in particular when you get to management, then you’ll start to wipe the floor with them.” She said, “Because, and not that they’re bad people or your intellect is better but you’ve been trained to think from so many different angles.”
Chris Hummel: So my education was one where we had to look at history, economics, anthropology, finance, law. We had to look at it altogether where it wasn’t down only one discipline and there’s a struggle to be functionally competent which is important. You have to be functionally competent. But if you can bring all those perspectives together and analyze from a comprehensive point of view, then that’s when particularly you get in this world of ambiguous business problems and challenges and you’re managing people and their personal agendas, and all those kinds of things.
Chris Hummel: That’s when she advised me, I would start to really understand. And she was absolutely right because boy, I struggled at the beginning. But once I got to the point where there was so much complexity going around, I was actually comfortable with that complexity and understood how to manage all the different pieces of it.