Formal education can some times serve as the biggest hindrance to innovation. I gave a certain guy a lift on my way to church sometime last year. He had a nice suit on and spoke very good English. In the course of our discussion, I found out that he had an MBA from a University in Malaysia which he completed 5 years prior to the time of our meeting. I was excited and then proceeded to ask him what he did for a living. He replied, “I am an Applicant.”

I’m sure your mind went “what the heck is applicant???”…Quite frankly I didn’t get it either and then he said that he had been applying for jobs for the past 5 years since he got his MBA and was still in the application phase hence his use of the word “applicant” to describe his current status. I almost felt like “applicant” was a new job role or something because it didn’t even make any sense to me. But before we proceed let’s pause and rewind a little bit.
He had an MBA from a University in Malaysia, he had been applying for jobs for 5 good years post-MBA and was still doing nothing?!

At this point I almost dropped him off to continue walking because I just couldn’t comprehend his lack of passion and creativity. So I said, “how can you have a graduate degree in business and find yourself unemployed (even by yourself) for 5 good years? Well, well I decided to move past that and then asked him if he was willing to have me recommend him for a lecturing position at a University I had links with. To my greatest dismay and disbelief, Mr. MBA said, “Hmmmm Sir, I think I will prefer a corporate job Sir” And then I added (with a very mild undertone of sarcasm) that, “A corporate job with a Telecom or Oil company right?” and he said. “Yes Sir.” I said, “Ok Sir.”

On the other hand, I recently came in contact with a young Technical Diploma holder while reviewing the applications for my #Mentor2Impact program and was completely blown away. This is what he had to say,

“I have co-founded 2 organizations that are working in parallel towards achieving the sustainable development goals in education, clean water and sustainable climate action. I help promote education in the rural communities through organizing debates and quizzed competitions in order to boost their public speaking skills. I have recently concluded a community-based water project that has provided accessibility to clean water to 3000 inhabitants in 3 villages. Also working as an environmental activist and have helped raise awareness in climate change and environmental protection. Currently working on a social enterprise that will focus on rural renewable energy generation for rural communities that do not have access to electricity with the use of solar panels thereby helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and potential climate change impacts and as well create employment for many Gambian youths.”

If these two people showed up to an interview and you had an opportunity to hire one of them, who will you hire and why? The so called “Applicant” with an MBA from a foreign University or the young achiever with a Technical Diploma from home?

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” — Bill Gates.

Don’t let your education become a hindrance to your success in life.