THEY say it takes 10 000 hours to master a craft. How far along are you? Increasingly, the market is full of people with more qualifications and less “man-hours” on the trade which they studied.
What is the benefit of adding an MBA to a first degree when you have never even worked as a junior intern?
To qualify as a chartered accountant, one does not just study for an exam, go and pass and then qualify. You have to complete your first degree, get attached at a company either in professional or public practice where you spend on average three years to attain the full competency framework enshrined for one to be an accredited member, coupled with additional three professional exams during the same period.
A registered assessor and training officer should supervise your progression before sign off. In the past, you had to do a minimum of 3 000 man-hours split into various disciplines in accounting to attain sign off.
Colleagues in the medical field tell me of countless hours they spent at Parirenyatwa Hospital or Mpilo Hospital doing rounds in wards following the doctor-in-charge, learning the art of medicine.
It’s one thing to study how to do a Caesarean section and it is one thing to perform one. Housemanship makes a doctor.
A few years back, it was a joy to watch the Constitutional Court proceedings, in particular the battle between Advocate Tawanda Mutero Kanengoni and Advocate Thabani Mpofu.
It was apparent that the display of these two esteemed legal minds attested to more than just what they read during their law school days, but cumulative experience gained from practising law and learning on the job from other great legal minds.
Moot courts play a pivotal role in shaping a law student to gain confidence in arguing and trying a case.
In the past, we had a lot of apprenticeship types of skills learning and vocational training centres. What happened to them? I personally am taken aback when one opts to go to college to study motor mechanics instead of signing under an apprenticeship programme with a local car manufacturer.
Most, if not all, of the best mechanics I have come across will tell you they trained with Delta or Toyota or Nissan. Top artisans do tell the same story.
Qualifications can never outweigh man-hours on the job. This new trend where kids pile qualifications with no experience is futile. It is better for one to do all it takes to get experience in whatever field of study and then top it off with additional qualifications to better yourself on the trade.
It is a shame that our local universities will take anyone for a Master’s programme or a managerial developmental training with no elementary experience.
Gordon Institute of Business Science, a top business school in South Africa, as part of the eligibility criteria for an MBA programme requires a minimum of five years’ work experience and at least two years of which must have been at management level.
We need a mindset change starting from the family unit level. It is not uncool for your child to go to a technical college or an apprenticeship instead of a degree.
Depending on the field of study, as parents, we need to be educated that the focus should be more for on-the-job training, programmes with attachment or secondment opportunities as these give hands-on experience to the candidate.
To students, there are no shortcuts to success; no matter how we all love to be chief executives (CEOs), a mere qualification does not make you the best in the game.
It is the competence and cumulative experience gained in that field as shown in man-hours coupled with a qualification on top. You can even be a top sought after person in your field even with less or without a formal qualification as long as the skill developed and shaped with time spent is visible.
For instance we have individuals who are making it big from social media influencing with no single marketing degree or Masters in digital marketing.
Their claim to fame is their ability to socialise and produce content, to which they just add one or two courses in designing or they can even use an app to create images.
The more time you spend developing a skill also shapes your character as it takes discipline to put in the work where no immediate results are visible.
A certain individual told me they are doing a course in digital marketing so that they can get ahead in the game and when I checked their online presence it was almost non-existent.
The creative mindset around content creation cannot simply be taught at school. Imagine the impact of the course if he was already comfortable with social media, then the course would help him to unlock new potential.
Most if not all the top music producers or beat makers in their memoirs talk of hundreds of hours they spent in the studio, before even anyone knew them, perfecting the art and skill.
The media reported that rapper Kanye West was living in Atlanta Stadium and vowed not to leave before his studio album titled Donda was finished.
This just goes on to show how a top artist values their craft. Talent alone is not enough without putting in the time to perfect the craft. Maybe that is why most of these Zimdancehall artist’s songs do not last as they just wake up and go to the studio and before the day ends the song is already circulating via WhatsApp.
I followed the routine of the seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes-Benz driver also does high altitude cross-country skiing and Muay Thai (Thai boxing).
In 2017, he set up a base in Mexico for morning Muay Thai sessions and afternoon surfing and Pilates. This further buttresses the core of this article that we have to put in the hours to perfect our craft and skill.
Mark Zuckerberg is a great example, besides natural talent, he did spend lots of time learning programming from the age of six. In his room at Harvard, he is believed to have locked himself in a lot of times while his friends were out having a good time, but he was perfecting his skill, starting with Facemash until Facebook came to life.
We tend to concentrate more on his dropping out of Harvard, but we miss how he did put in a lot of time to learn and up skill himself, putting in the time before he was successful.
One of the reasons why most people are not good drivers is they stop learning the day they leave (“VID”) with their licence. Do not stop learning after you get the certificate, the only change is you are now learning with no exam, at your own pace and with real life scenarios.
Top leaders understand that to get to the top, you have to perfect the skill, invest hours and hours in reading, research, and learning new tools.
As Zimbabweans we are currently suffering from destination happiness where people think they will develop themselves once the economy is booming; we are waiting for a Eureka moment.
Alas, this is the time to spend time building the skill, put in the hours to learn and develop such that when the economy rebounds you are not only qualified but have the requisite experience needed.
As chartered accountants, through the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe, we are leading in this area to develop accountants who are adequately trained hence cannot be easily replaced by robots through the years of training and retraining through various CPD programmes which we offer.
Let us wake up from the slumber of piling up certificates not backed by hours of experience.
Makwara is a chartered accountant with both local and international experience and is currently working as the group financial manager of a locally-listed entity.