Forgive me for being a bit of a homer, but my daughter Maggie is a walking example of the kind of student I would like us to attract, cultivate and graduate here in the college.
Maggie isn’t five feet tall. She is blonde and still watches the Disney channel. Her friends refer to her as “sneaky smart” — her appearance and demeanor belie her intellect. You never see her coming. Maggie went far away to school..all the way to the Big Apple where after searching around for a while she majored in Actuarial Science and minored in Math. Along the way she got to be in a couple of MTV music videos and was on the school’s dance team.
Maggie competes in a very male dominated profession. Her sneaky smartness and failure to get a meaningful internship experience along the way left her struggling in a tough economy to get her first job. After months of looking, she landed at Geico in Washington, D.C., where she used her ability to analyze data in real time to recommend policy and procedure changes to top management. She even got to meet the gecko. He is from….(sorry, it’s a trade secret).
But after about eighteen months Maggie was looking for a new challenge and found one when Netflix offered to double her salary to move to San Francisco and use her same talents to help them make go-to-market decisions on new product innovations. When she called me to discuss the cross-country move, I expressed concern given Netflix’s recent history. Maggie responded: “Well it gets me out to Silicon Valley where I’m sure I will make a lot of really good connections that will generate opportunities. If this doesn’t work out, I’m sure I will land on my feet.” How awesome I thought; my concerns were replaced with envy.
A willingness to get out of your comfort zone and interact with people different from yourself, an ability to use real time data to drive decisions, and the courage to take risk in your professional career….hmm maybe I should add sneaky smart….
Paul Jarley, Ph.D., is the dean of the UCF College of Business Administration. He blogs every week at http://www.bus.ucf.edu/dean. This post appeared on March 6, 2013. Follow him on Twitter @pauljarley.