Do you need a degree education to be a great CEO ?


They say one in four graduates will fail to find a job. And now the New York Times claims that even the lowest paid office job requires a graduate degree. This just seems a waste of talent and an ever decreasing spiral that both defeats the whole purpose of pursuing a degree but also its value at the end of it.

It’s not an uncommon occurrence but I’m sitting here typing out this post thinking to myself that if you graduate and are full of ideas and energy why would you want to devalue the effort you put in for years by accepting and assuming your place in hierarchy ?

And it led me to think about Steve Jobs, possibly the greatest example of a college drop-out success. I’m in no way advocating students leave their courses to seek their fortunes elsewhere. But I have to ask, ” Why would you want to stamp out spirit and potential innovation by forcing graduates into positions which will slowly grind them down to nothing?”

It’s not academic

And that led me to think about what makes a great CEO. Does it become a question of simple academics or can you be an entrepreneur, create, innovate and lead all without a formal education? In the NY Times piece It Takes a B.A to Find a Job as a File Clerk, the author says, “those who do not graduate are often assumed to be unambitious or less capable.” I don’t think I’ve read such a broad brush and trashy statement about education as this. You don’t need a degree to have the desire and drive to be greater than you are.

But what the article also highlighted was that having a degree seems to force graduates to assume that they must plan out a traditional career and accept their lot in organizational hierarchy.

Fear drives out ambition

One student spent his time during and after college washing cars at Enterprise Rent-a-Car and obviously interviewed for a promotion there. He’s a Court Runner now with a legal firm. Did he not once think about striking out on his own ? Or has the fear of the state of the economy and financial burden of going to college killed off those kinds of thoughts full stop ?

I wonder whether being a CEO and entrepreneur just isn’t in everyone’s genes and having a college degree actually becomes a weight around your neck rather than lift the creative spirit to do more.

What do you think ?

(and if you’re wondering, no I don’t)


One response to “Do you need a degree education to be a great CEO ?

  1. I agree with you, Theo. I’ve met people who don’t have a degree, yet they are very smart as well as ambitious and some of them even run their own small companies very successfully. At the end of the day I believe that, even without a degree, you can achieve everything you want – just need to be smart enough and you need to want it really badly and be prepared to work hard for it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s