Do Credentials Matter?

One's credentials do not guarantee success; it's their attitude that makes or breaks a venture.

When I wanted to apply for PMP certification, I asked my boss at that time, if I should take up PMP. He said,

“If your project fails, no one would bother you are a PMP; and if your project succeeds, even then no one would care you are a PMP.”

I didn’t take up PMP.

Consider these:

  1. Michael Porter, a Harvard Professor and author of the famous Porter Framework, co-founded Monitor Group. Monitor group advised large companies and governments on strategy and being competitive. But they themselves had to file for bankruptcy.

  2. Long-Term Capital Management had Nobel Price winners for economics in its board. Yet, the fund had to be liquidated due to heavy losses.

Again consider these:

  1. Group of illiterate men, called, Dabbawalas have been picking up lunches and delivering them on time for decades. Their on-time delivery with minimal error rate would put any six-sigma practitioner to shame.

  2. Kamaraj, the illiterate chief minister of Tamil Nadu, laid the strong foundation for mass-education that made Tamils from rural areas reach epic heights.

  3. Do you know that the world’s largest burger restaurant, McDonald’s in its present form was built by Ray Kroc, a school dropout? He is not alone. There is plenty more—Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and the list goes on.

What am I saying? Am I saying, schools don’t matter? Am I saying, education doesn’t matter? Absolutely not.

I’m saying, the belief that having a degree or a certificate is a sure path to success is wrong. It’s flawed.

Do credentials matter?

Let me narrate an incident from my life.

For one of the project that I was managing, I needed a tester. I told the HR department to send me those with certification in testing. I interviewed few sent by the HR team. They had a “certificate,” what I was looking for. But their knowledge was narrow, shallow and useless. I rejected them all.

Then my boss, sent Ashbel Roy. Ashbel was a Peoplesoft consultant. I was running a Java project and looking for a tester; my boss sends me a Peoplesoft consultant. I thought he lost his mind. When I complained, he said, “He is a good resource. Use him.”

Ashbel turned out to be the best tester I have worked with. Not because of his credentials, but because of his attitude.

I have seen this repeat in my career again again. I have come to realise that, one’s credentials do not guarantee success; it’s their attitude that makes or breaks a venture.

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