Sunday, May 31, 2009

Marks are poor predictor of career success

Welcome to the blog after a long time. I have been writing a book for the parents of young students, " How to make career choices at 10th class".

Today a every interesting write up in a newspaper attracted my attention. It was a write up on a 15 year old topper from Mumbai, Aditya Shankar, who got 98.4% marks this year.

As a careerologist, i am often asked if there is a single determining factor that predicts career success over a long time. Marks, as i have found in my research, is definitely not one of the predictor of future career success. If you have read a recent book of Malcolm Gladwell called 'Outliers', he has quoted a very poignant example of a person, Chris Langan, with extraordinary IQ of 195. ( Please remember that average IQ is about 130 and even Einstein had an IQ of 150.)

It is well proven that a person with IQ of 150 would be able to think well than someone who has a IQ of say, 90. But when the comparison is between an associate with average IQ of 120 to another person of say IQ of 150, IQ is not able to predict anything. In other words, IQ below a threshold may affect one's career, but IQ after a threshold value, say 120, is not helpful to predict anything. It is like a factor of 'height' in basketball. In a basketball, an individual with height less than five foot six inches has very little chance to succeed; but height above 6 feet does not guarantee any success in the game of basketball.

More than marks, i have observed, interests in off-mainstream pursuits can perhaps be more useful in ensuring career success.I was therefore surprised when i read that Aditya Shankar, the Mumbai topper regularly cooks Indian and Continental dishes for his sisters.

Cooking interest will help Aditya in three ways. One, cooking for men, in India, helps boys to break the gender stereotype which will help Aditya more in his personal life. Two, cooking is a highly creative activity, which will only help Aditya in his work-life. And, thirdly, cooking can be an excellent stress-buster activity that Aditya will thank his parents for, because men in later years find it difficult to find an activity that will help them 'dissolve' stress in their lives.

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