There are other paths to the corner office.
The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Todays answer to the question: Career wise, is it better to be book smart or street smart? is written by Suri Suriyakumar, chairman, president and CEO of ARC Document Solutions.
While I would never discount the value of a formal, advanced education, my personal experience shows that life experience, combined with hard work, a desire to succeed, and a willingness to take risks, can lead to the corner office. I deviated from the norm from the beginning. In what was probably one of the biggest risks Ive ever taken: I decided to pursue a non-traditional and rather circuitous path to a career in business. My father was the first person from his village in Sri Lanka to get a college degree, and all of my siblings followed his lead, pursuing college degrees as well. But I bypassed the college and business school route in favor of the school of hard knocks. I attended a marine academy so that I could repair ships and sail the world.
I quickly became street smartor perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I became sea smart. I found that I liked to lead but not necessarily from a ships boiler room. So I left the sailors life behind and joined an executive training program at an international conglomerate. I had the benefit of working with a wonderful mentor who helped me grow, drive new projects, and make my way rather quickly to a directorship...