I live in a world where credentials rule. It’s almost a competition to see who can have the most letters after their name.
It really seems to cross the boundaries in my life, too. At the university, the level of your degree is what matters initially, but even with a Ph.D., you’re not safe. Then you have to go for varying levels of professorship until you finally reach the pinnacle of “tenured” professor, and ultimately Professor Emeritus (a snooty way of saying you’re retired but still occasionally allowed on campus).
In the consulting world, in many cases, Ph.D. is actually looked upon as a bad thing. Most businessmen consider Ph.D.’s to be lacking in pragmatic sense. I once heard it said that a Ph.D. is someone who spends his life trying to prove that what works in reality will also work in theory. Just think about it for a minute…
On the other hand, a Master’s degree is table-stakes for a career in business consulting. Many top executives have an MBA as well, so the MBA, while necessary, isn’t enough to give you credibility. You also need other schmancy certifications. My specialty is supply chain logistics and forecasting. Thus, I’m working on my CPIM right now (a certification earned through APICS). But CPIM won’t be enough either. There’s always one more thing you have to do.
Recently I’ve been dealing with people in the area of quality certifications for manufacturing. These people might have 10 acronyms on their business card. It’s ridiculous.
I’m conflicted about it, because on the one hand, certifications and credentials mean that you’re always trying to better yourself. That’s very American. On the other hand, it can end up being a pretentious, worthless set of letters. A lot of people are just good at taking tests… not actually good at anything in real life. They are the ones who give consultants a bad name.
Still, I’m looking forward to the day that my business card can say “Incredipeter B. Lucas, MBA, CPIM, ACPF, CPP, Esq.”
I’m pretty sure it would be cheaper just to make up some acronyms and put them on there. I’ll look surprised and disgusted by their ignorance if anyone asks what they stand for.