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If Book Smart Is Good then Well Rounded Is Great

Most of the finance and accounting internships and entry level job descriptions state, among other things, that only individuals with an overall GPA equal to or higher than 3.0 will be considered for employment. In response to this requirement, business students are naturally spending a considerable amount of their college years focusing squarely on their grades. I don’t see anything wrong with college students always aiming for B or higher, heck I always started each semester with the expectation of earning at least a B in each of my courses. Since entry level finance and accounting jobs candidates often have little to no professional experience to show for, employers have resorted to using the grade point average as a way of gaging a candidates suitability for their entry level recruiting needs. In other words, your grades better demonstrate that you are a book smart if you want to get in the front row seats of every entry level job opening in your radar.

While you can count on your book smarts to get your foot in the door, it remains however to be seen if that only will be enough to make of you an effective business professional. Indeed, accountants don’t work in isolation from other functional areas of a business. For your information there are five functional areas within a business: human resources, finance and accounting, production and operations, administration and IT support, R&D, marketing and sales, and customer service. Therefore, as a member of your organization’s staff, you have to be able to fully comprehend how these functional areas affect not only each other but also the organization as a whole.  Additionally, as an accounting professional, you will be called upon to deal with your existing as well as your potential companies business partners including but not limited to financial institutions, suppliers, clients, takeover targets, and and takeover suitors. It takes more than good grades to be able to consistently and effectively provide answers to the different challenges facing your organization. I personally believe that it takes a well rounded person to be a high caliber business professional.

So what is a well rounded person you may wonder? MSN Encarta® defines a well rounded person as an individual “having abilities, experience, or achievements in a wide and balanced variety of fields”.  In the context of the business world, a well rounded professional is not only well educated but she also has interests in a variety of things including but not limited to traveling, reading on a variety of topics, attending social gatherings, learning about policy issues, learning about business news, keeping up with current news events, and mastering new skills. Obviously, you don’t get to turn yourself into a well rounded business professional overnight. It’s indeed the cumulative result of years of personal development. For some individuals, this development process all starts in kindergarten. There are families where the parents make a concerted effort to create conditions as conducive as possible enabling their children to become well rounded citizens and by extension well rounded business professionals. However the latter constitute the minority. Most parents are running to busy of a life to stop and worry about these kind of issues. I am however one to believe that your family lineage should never dictate the kind of person you aspire to be.

I gave you earlier the shared characteristics of most well rounded business professionals. If you find yourself reading this post, I urge you to take an introspective look at yourself in an attempt to assess which other areas of your life, if any, require additional efforts on your behalf so you also can truly morph  into a well rounded business professional.


  1. Comment by Julia Altizer:

    Well said. Passing the CPA exam is one thing, but being a well rounded, effective business professional/person is much much more. Thanks for your excellent post.

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