Experience is the best teacher! Everyone must have heard this maxim at some point, but when will we deeply consider this saying and put it to practice?
Recently, I came across a tweet headlining the Bloomberg news that Sotheby’s, one of the leading auction houses in the world just employed Tad Smith as its new CEO. Audaciously, the headline read: “Art Degree Not Needed: New Sotheby’s CEO Offers Technology Savvy“. The article simply stated why the auction house made the decision to elect someone without an art degree as its CEO -the track record of the man was enough.
The case is not the same in Nigeria, here we pant after certificates and elect people to office not because of what they’ve done or what they can achieve or contribute, but because they have fancy certificates and multiple degrees. Of course, education is important and degrees are needed, but should that be our sole criterion for judging expertise? A few weeks ago, the media was awash with the news of a notorious Senator who got his seat by claiming he’s got seven or eight certificates and degrees. After serving in office for a reasonable time, it was revealed that many of his certificate claims were false and he just barely managed a third class on his first degree! As a nation, we have gotten to the point where people chase certificates at the detriment of knowledge or experience. Certificates are bought and even forged simply because they open doors and confer recognition above true proficiency or know-how. This has to stop.
I commend Tad, the new Sotheby’s CEO, for having the guts to admit that he is not experienced in the arts. Of course, he knows the stuff he brings to the table, thus he could proclaim such, it does not really matter, he is sure he can deliver! And to Sotheby’s for taking such a leap, kudos. I can only wish more institutions and organizations in Nigeria will take a cue from this. You can have a figure-head allegedly claiming eight certificates but he could be as empty as a hollow barrel; these class of citizens are rife in our society and sadly, they lead us and bamboozle everyone with their sheer idiocy. On the flip-side, we have CEOs and industry leaders who elected to leave school without completing their studies, they may have no certificates, but they lead the Forbes list of the richest and most influential people on the face of the planet and we have all seen the impact they make and continue to make to the world. It is left for us to choose and reconsider what our values should be.