Student Spotlight: Dr. Michael Lao Gives the Gift of Sight

Dr. Michael Lao has made it his mission to help the blind see. On an average day, he and his team perform more than 1,000 cataract surgeries in churches and schools. Not only does he travel around the Philippines to serve patients, but he doesn’t charge them a single cent. 

His passion to become a missionary developed when the devastating 2011 Japan tsunami flooded more than 200 miles of coastal land. “I was there during the tsunami, so I saw what it did,” says Michael. “I had a fellowship in Japan and saw how many people suffered. By experiencing this, I knew that a materialistic lifestyle was not for me. Life has to be about something bigger. Anything can be taken away from you at any given time. After that, I decided to become a missionary.” 

Michael began going from town to town, helping anyone with medical issues. He soon realized he would have to make this a sustainable effort. “Once I reached the age of 40, I told myself that I would completely stop charging patients. I started doing a lot of surgeries for free and needed to know how to make this a sustainable process. No one would ever have to pay and I could still cover all the expenses of surgery.” 

Everything fell into place when Michael’s patient, an 80-year-old farmer, insisted on giving him raw coffee as payment. “I like serving farmers and teachers because they’re the ones that are very underserved. They started giving me things like chickens, fruit, and vegetables. This one woman was going to go blind and had been turned away by three hospitals because she couldn’t afford it. I ended up saving her vision and she gave me raw coffee from her incredible farm in the mountains.”

At first, Michael wasn’t sure what to do with the raw coffee. “The funny thing is, I was a tea drinker and didn’t know anything about blends,” jokes Lao. He ended up bringing it to one of the best roasters in Japan and asked if he could please roast it for him. The roaster tried it and said it was the best coffee he had ever tasted. “I went back to that patient and she said she had more coffee. She had been picking it by herself in the mountains for years. She said she had neighbors that also harvested coffee and needed help with their sight. I started taking care of them and realized they were getting paid very low for their coffee. I said I would pay them double and they would be my patients for free. That’s how the coffee business became my thing.” 

Michael began selling the coffee in Tokyo and the funds drastically increased the amount of surgeries he could perform. “We ended up going to another area in the Philippines to serve those people. My patients took me to a cacao farm and my wife said, ‘Why don’t we try this, too.’ So, I started trading cacao in the same model. I had to study coffee like I was studying chemistry. I had to study chocolate fermentation of cacao like I was studying pharmacology. Of course it’s scary because you have to learn everything from scratch. The thing about being a missionary is that you’re not so scared to make mistakes. That’s life. You have to have the same mentality for business. You have to have the resilience and the grit to move on.” 

The resilience of Michael’s medical efforts to help patients has now turned into a work of art. Within two to three hours, he and his team clean and set up makeshift clinics in churches and schools. They can see more than 1,000 patients per day. “One cataract surgery would probably cost them 1,000 dollars. We do it for free. These people can’t afford these surgeries in our healthcare system. That’s unacceptable to me. So, we go to the people.” 

Michael is changing thousands of lives every day and has seen the miracle of receiving sight. “You do what you have to do to help people and every time you do, it’s a miracle. I couldn’t believe that people would crawl just to get to me. They cannot see. They have to crawl. So, I wash people’s feet and their hands. After the surgery, you start to see the miracle take over. They can be independent now and they start to cry. I always joke, ‘Please don’t cry because you still have sutures on.’” 

In order to impact the greatest number of people, he knew he would need as much business knowledge as possible. “I have to split my personality in two. I have a schedule when I am the CEO of a company and for the rest of the week, I am a missionary. You really have to have a strong mind to separate both aspects because one is about making money to sustain your efforts. These are hundreds of thousands of people that need our help. My company has 20 people, but it’s not about that. It’s about the people you impact; The farmers, the teachers, the fisherman. If I can’t fight for them, who will?” 

Michael realized that Quantic would be the perfect option to gain this business knowledge and pursue his Executive MBA. “Quantic gave me my shot and taught me a lot of things on the business side. Quantic is a multiplier. Whatever I learned from Quantic, I can multiply and serve more people and encourage other people to do the same.” 

Now, in his free time, Michael continues to expand his missionary work. He is helping to bring doctors together and develop solar power and fresh water innovations for communities. “We’re harvesting clean water, producing vegetables, and using the same free surgery method. I keep telling them that they will find the courage to move forward because they are directly seeing the stakeholders, which are the patients. Once you see them, you get enough courage to do anything to help.”

Should I Get an MBA? The True Cost and Benefits of Getting an MBA

MBAs are not for the faint of heart, but they’re more accessible than ever to those up for undertaking this impressive achievement. Thanks to changes in the business world and the nature of education, you have more options to consider when selecting a program.

While the MBA is the ultimate degree in the business world, not all programs are created equal. 

Before you hit the button to apply, make sure you’ve adequately weighed the pros and cons of each option by:

  • Calculating the true ROI of the program
  • Uncovering the real value of the specific degrees offered
  • Identifying what features you need in a program

We’ll show you how to do all three, and provide plenty of other pointers along the way. Let’s dive right in.

How to Calculate the True ROI of an MBA

If you’re looking into different MBA programs, you will notice various discussions about what the “ROI” of an MBA looks like. 

The good news? No matter what area of business you decide to enter, an MBA pays off. You’ll see a return on your investment over the long-run – guaranteed. However, not all MBA programs are created equal, and not all calculate their ROI by including the full value that the program or school offers. 

According to The Princeton Review, the most common way that schools calculate the ROI of their MBA is how long it takes each student to recoup the cost of the program itself. For example, if an MBA program from a major school costs you $50,000 and you land a $100,000 salaried position with it, then that’s considered an extremely high return on your investment because you’ll recoup your costs in a year. In contrast, if it costs you $50,000, but you land a job that pays only $65,000, you may spend five or six years recapturing your expenses. That leads to a lower ROI.

By that logic, the cheaper the program, the greater the ROI – but we all know that isn’t true. 

The return on your investment analysis should also consider opportunities and costs. As you peruse programs, ask yourself about:

  • Career sacrifices: Do I have to stop working to pursue this program? If so, how much will that affect me?
  • Networking opportunities: Will this program allow me to access high-caliber connections in the business world, thereby accessing quality career opportunities? 
  • Electives and specialties: Is the program teaching me the basics, or will I have the chance to take elective courses that help me develop transferable skills?
  • Program match: Is the program appropriate to my specific career path, or is it too basic or too advanced? 

Imagine arriving at your new program only to discover that your professors assume you have certain business expertise that you don’t, or that the career network is non-existent. A program that’s a bad fit for you is just as worthless as a low-quality program that doesn’t give you the skills you need.

With these, you’ll have a better sense of whether a specific program worth it to you. 

The Benefits of Getting an MBA

An MBA can convey several expected and unexpected benefits. In addition to more earning power and access to more high-powered jobs, you will enjoy:

  • A more extensive network of colleagues and friends. An MBA program is a great place to meet connections from all around the world, even your next business partner. (Yelp, OkCupid, and GrubHub were all started by people who met in MBA programs.) 
  • Differentiation in the job market. Depending on your industry, an MBA will set you apart from the competition, presenting you as a strong candidate for your dream job.
  • Improved communication skills. You’ll learn how to communicate professionally, developing better relationships with your bosses, colleagues, or employees.
  • A re-energized career. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut and burned out, an MBA can help you access opportunities that previously stood out of reach. In addition to business acumen, you’ll gain transferable skills that let you be more productive at work.
  • Better job security. Possessing an MBA makes you a more valued member of any team. That translates to a decreased likelihood of losing your job in a turbulent market and helps reduce the time between jobs.

The Hidden Value of an MBA in Today’s Market

In 2019, some of the most prominent schools in the U.S. reported plummeting enrollment rates in their MBA programs. During the same time, tech fields of every stripe represent some of the fastest-growing job markets, and schools report no shortage of applications to their STEM programs.

This trend towards technology-oriented degrees and jobs has left some people asking if MBAs have grown outdated.

They haven’t. 

According to the 2018 Corporate Recruiters Survey, 85 percent of businesses in the U.S. expected to hire an MBA graduate. 

Why Companies Value Employees with MBAs

An MBA does more than just impart practical business knowledge. Companies actively seek out MBA graduates because they:

  • See the big picture. MBA graduates leave school with a mature perspective on business, which makes them useful for understanding things like market context and competition.
  • Think long-term. They know how to plan and how to analyze the ways that actions today will impact tomorrow. (That’s critical if you ever want to become a COO, for example.)
  • Lead teams. MBA students have ample opportunities to develop their leadership skills through real-world projects and internships, making them effective leaders in the workplace.
  • Possess diverse and qualified connections. It’s not just the graduates who benefit from career networks – employers can also tap into the relationships their employees have formed.

Do I Need an MBA to Become an Executive?

No, but it can represent a significant competitive advantage. At least 40 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs sport an MBA on their resume. 

Is an MBA Necessary for Marketing, Finance, Operations, or Engineering?

Increasingly, yes! 

Professionals who come from technical backgrounds like computer science or engineering often overlook MBAs. However, if you’re looking to become a Chief Technical Officer or a Chief Financial Officer, an MBA can prove a powerful combination with your technical degrees and significantly improve the odds of being selected to serve on a board.

What’s the Best Age to Get an MBA?

The best time to get an MBA is after you have some work experience under your belt. 

According to Vanderbilt University, the average age of MBA students is around 28, but it’s not uncommon to see slightly older candidates in programs. According to UCLA, the average age for executive MBA programs is 36.

What Type of MBA Should I Get?

Professionals pursuing MBAs have more options than ever before. That’s great news if you’re trying to find a program that matches your lifestyle and current career demands. In general, you’ve got five options:

1. Traditional MBAs. If you like structure and the hands-on experience of being in a classroom, the traditional MBA is for you. Many people are also attracted to them because of their networking potential.

2. Online MBAs. Competitive online MBAs are increasing in popularity. They’re convenient, especially if you prefer to keep working, but want to go to school full-time. Many now even offer career networking opportunities to connect digitally with your peers.

3. Accelerated MBAs. In an accelerated program, you may take classes right through the summer or take many classes online. Your winter and spring breaks will also be shorter, but you’ll complete the program faster.

4. Part-Time MBAs. Part-time MBAs allow students to keep working while enjoying the structure of a classroom. They often include evening classes and may take longer to complete.

5. Executive MBAs. If you’re already mid-career and are ready to take your next step, an EMBA might be for you. Here’s a closer look at this program geared towards those aspiring to reach executive levels.

Your most significant decision lies in choosing between traditional or online MBAs. We’ve got a few thoughts on that.

How Much Does an MBA Cost?

According to Poets & Quants, the average cost of a traditional MBA program ranges between $50,000 and $80,000 – with nine schools in the U.S. exceeding $200,000 for their programs.

Many major universities also offer very competitive online MBAs. In-state tuition often ranges around $15,000, while out of state tuition averages about twice that amount.

Currently, QUANTIC offers an accredited MBA program online for free. This hyper-competitive program is worth considering if you’re seeking a high-caliber education that offers flexibility and rigor. We also offer an Executive MBA for $9,600, which will prep you for pursuing an executive position.

How Long Does It Take to Get an MBA?

The duration of a program depends on several factors, especially whether you’re attending full-time or part-time. The average lengths of time for different MBAs include:

  • Full-time traditional MBAs: Two full years, or four semesters.
  • Part-time MBAs: Typically, around three years.
  • Accelerated MBAs: Between one and two years.
  • Executive MBAs: Two years.
  • Online MBAs: One year or less. (Our Free MBA takes 10 months.)

Should I Get an MBA in 2020?

If you’re interested in an MBA to further your career, you’ve got more options than ever before. The rise of affordable, online MBAs can be precisely what you need to advance your career. However, MBAs aren’t always appropriate for everyone. It might be the right choice for you if you’re:

  • Encountering more scenarios at work that require deeper business knowledge than you possess.
  • Feeling stuck and not sure how to move your career forward, or you want to change careers.
  • Aiming for an executive-level position in your career.
  • Seeking to broaden your professional opportunities with high-quality business connections.
  • Prepared to face (and feel excited by) the rigors of a program like an MBA.
  • Thinking about one day starting your own business from scratch.

If most or all of these are true, then an MBA could be right for you.

Summary: Choose the Right Degree for Your Career Growth

Pursuing an MBA is a difficult challenge, but one that pays off in the long run. Hopefully, this article has given you some ideas about whether you should get an MBA. 

As with any significant decision, knowledge is power. We’ve explored your options, the different types of MBAs now available, and why attaining one can make you such a valuable employee in the marketplace. You’re now equipped to make the right choice in the next step of your career. Go forth and prosper.

10 Tips To Make the Most of Your Virtual Meetings

This year, many of us started working remotely and are spending far more time in virtual meetings, meet-ups, happy hours, webinars, and social gatherings. Since March, the Quantic Engagement Team, responsible for planning and hosting events for students and alumni, has held over 300 virtual events, averaging around 50 per month. Suffice it to say, they know a few things about making sure a conversation runs smoothly!

To help you better command your virtual conference room, the team has compiled their top ten tips to ensure that everything from your lighting to your muting etiquette go according to plan. 

Arrive on Time

While it’s always ideal to be on time, it can be especially important in virtual meetings. The presenter may set some expectations for meeting etiquette within the first few minutes. Presenters also typically choose to save questions until a particular section or the end of the presentation. Write down your questions so that you don’t forget them.

Limit Distractions

Now that more of us are logging on from home, the amount of distractions has increased. Make sure to find a quiet place to log in to a meeting to ensure that you’re able to stay focused and limit background noise that could interrupt the call. Also, turn off notifications on your device and if you’re used to multitasking, try to resist responding to emails until after the meeting.

Choose a Neutral Background

Don’t distract your viewers with a busy background. Try finding a solid background or one without clutter. You want listeners and viewers to focus on what you’re saying, rather than the books on the shelf behind you.

Consider Your Lighting

If you’re planning to have your video turned on during a meeting, make sure that you are well-lit so that other attendees can easily see you. Find a space facing a window and make sure that the source of light is facing you, rather than coming from the side or behind you. Zoom also recently added a feature that helps you improve your lighting.

Test Your Device with the Meeting Platform

Before logging in to a meeting, make sure to take time to familiarize yourself with the features of the meeting room. Depending on the platform and device, you will want to know how to activate your microphone and video, mute yourself, and share your screen before joining the scheduled meeting. If you’re concerned about your internet connection, check out Zoom’s system requirements and consider running a test on your internet connection.

Add a Display Name

When possible, reset your display name on the account you’re using to join a video call. Otherwise, you may show up as the name of the device (e.g. Samsung 45XT3) rather than your actual name. This makes it difficult for the host or others on the call to identify you.

Use a Profile Picture

If you’re using Zoom or other video conferencing apps, it’s nice to have a profile picture in case you’re not able to share your video. This way other attendees can put a face to the name. It helps to give the meeting a little more personalization.

Mute Yourself

In a large meeting, having multiple mics turned on can sometimes be distracting. Make sure that you’re muted when you’re not speaking. This way it won’t pick up any background noise and you can unmute yourself to ask questions or present your part.

Respect Others on the Call

Reading social cues can be difficult in a virtual setting, but it’s no less important. To prevent interrupting others, keep an eye out for those who unmute their microphones. This is often a sign that they’re about to speak. If you do end up speaking over someone, that’s ok, just make sure to allow them a chance to continue.

Utilize the Chat Tool

If another person is speaking or presenting and you want to make a quick comment or share some information, it may be best to quickly post your idea in the chat box. Note that on Zoom and Google Hangouts you also have the option to send a private note to a specific participant.

During the pandemic, expanding and staying in touch with your network is still as important and essential for our work and well-being. Always remember that we have the tools to create and maintain meaningful connections. As we all become more comfortable connecting virtually, this can even be an excellent time to expand your global network from home.

Quantic’s Weekly Roundup

Quantic’s Weekly Roundup is a satisfying mix of the latest breaking news, business, STEM and social science stories. Here are your headlines for this week: 

The long road to red and blue: The most viral election map of 2020 was actually made by a Belgian man in 2019. Designer Karim Douïeb, who runs his own data visualization company, decided to update the map he was seeing in social posts. It bugged him because, like so many electoral maps, it framed thousands of miles of empty land as voting for Trump instead of representing the few people actually living in it. He created a more accurate representation, which depicted the actual count of red and blue votes in counties across the nation as simple circles, their size proportional to the number of votes.

Salt and lime not included: What started out as a Tesla April Fools joke became a reality… and is now sold out. The car company has created an agave-based tequila that runs buyers $250 a bottle. The spirit is sold in a bottle that resembles the shape of Tesla’s iconic lighting bolt logo. The tequila sold out within hours of being live on the website. 

What women really want: A London-based menopause startup secured £500K in funding to help support more than 13 million women in the UK. The menopause’ market potential largely remained untapped in the past, due to stigma and silence around it. With more startups now focusing on women’s health, the stigma surrounding menopause and other health matters has started to fade away. MPowder is an e-commerce startup that provides nutritional powders that tackle hormonal changes and provides women with insights, practices, and tools to empower them through menopause. 

A little “me time” and mediation: No matter where you live, it’s been a long week of US election and COVID-19 news. For those that need a mental health holiday, there’s an app for that. Whether it’s mediation, exercise, or better sleep, experts have designed platforms to calm our minds and reduce anxiety levels. Download one of these and start instantly de-stressing.

Five Questions for Free the PhD Founder, Vay Cao

Quantic Alum, Vay Cao, PhD, founded Free the PhD, a career development and advocacy platform for PhDs who want to learn more about the world outside of academia and kickstart an exciting career. You can check out their programs, talk to their advisors, and access their resources year-round.  Vay spoke with us about the initial inspiration and future goals for the program.

What inspired you to create Free the PhD? 

More PhD graduates are produced than there are traditional full-time faculty positions. This is a trend that has been happening for decades. The simultaneous shrinking of the academic faculty pool, especially in current times, has exacerbated an already stressful professional reality for many academics. Many who complete a PhD degree are not sure what they can do professionally afterwards. I was in this camp: not interested in continuing in academia, but not sure what else I could do.  After I made my own career transition, I was inspired to create Free the PhD because I didn’t want that experience to go to waste. 

How did you launch the platform?

It started off as a typical resume-editing service, but has evolved over the years into a platform where academics can do the important work of learning to shift their mindsets from that of only an academic, to a versatile professional. Free the PhD today is a supportive digital community. It’s a set of empathetic, practical online courses to assist academics in the career transition that’s right for them. There is personalized career guidance, provided by fellow PhDs. We teach PhDs how to free themselves from their own mental limitations and become independent job seekers, including guiding them on how to edit their own job applications and do their own interview preparation.

How would you like to see it expand in the future? 

The pool of PhD talent has so much to offer all sectors of society. I would love to continue reaching more PhDs interested in exploring and pursuing diverse career paths. Alongside our own career coaching, we have been doing workshops with different institutions and are piloting a joint career course with a UC university, which I hope might expand into other institutions that would like to work together to serve their trainees.

Why did you want to pursue your MBA? 

When I first began working outside of academia, I had no prior formal “work experience.” Joining a start-up out of grad school meant I was learning as I went every single day, trying new things and loving the experience. I realized I really wanted a comprehensive understanding of business, rather than this patchwork of information to make me a more effective and efficient professional. I enjoyed being in the business world, and wanted to ensure I was empowered to both deliver results and accelerate my career. 

What did you like about Quantic’s pedagogy method?

What I wanted from an MBA was to get the needed information in a streamlined, time-efficient, affordable, curated manner, all from a trusted source. Knowing that the people behind Quantic are proven in online education, and checking out the freely available Business Foundations courses on their app, helped convince me that this was exactly what I needed! Now that the Quantic MBA is officially accredited, I am even more convinced that I made the right decision in choosing Quantic.  

I have leveraged a lot of the business knowledge and frameworks from my Quantic MBA experience, both in my day job and constantly improving Free the PhD. Knowing that I have the fundamental knowledge needed to go out and make an impact in the world has provided me with the confidence that every professional and entrepreneur needs to succeed! 

Quantic’s Weekly Roundup

Quantic’s Weekly Roundup is a satisfying mix of the latest breaking news, business, STEM and social science stories. Here are your headlines for this week: 

Mars is partnering with Acquia to create a digital spooktacular Halloween. Mars wanted to digitize the physical experience of Halloween trick-or-treating, but make it more engaging than a website. To build on that idea, the company held a one-week hackathon. Treat Town was created, which is a platform that can be experienced on the free app or through a browser. Candy-givers and trick-or-treaters sign up and create profiles. Candy-givers can design and decorate their virtual door, purchase candy credits from Mars, and decide whether anyone on Treat Town can visit their door (or friends and family only). People can even set different levels of rewards for friends and family and even donate to charities

Samasource, a training data and validation company based in San Francisco, believes AI technology can enhance human-centered work instead of threaten it. Artificial intelligence is an emerging force in the business world that has the potential to either replace humans in certain industries or empower humans with better tools, depending on how the technology is utilized. The company’s philosophy is to use artificial intelligence to empower the human workforce. AI will simply remove more mundane tasks, so that humans can focus on tasks that require higher cognition and focus on higher value areas of work.

The company, PORTL Hologram, has raised $3M to put a hologram machine in every home. PORTL’s projector can transmit images any time of the day or night with its “studio-in-a-box.” Anyone with $60,000 to spend and a white background can beam themselves into any portal, anywhere in the world. The company plans to create miniature versions that will be the size of a desktop computer and will be bundled with entertainment systems like Peloton and Mirror. 

Need something to read this weekend? Sports writer, Jon Bois, used his platform on SB Nation to write his latest multimedia story: 20020: What is the Future of College Football. This is the sequel to his 25-part fiction story about the future of America where football games last for thousands of years and span the continent. The digital science fiction piece explores what would happen if humans lived in a utopian meditation with endless time…and sports! 

Quantic’s Weekly Roundup

Quantic’s Weekly Roundup is a satisfying mix of the latest breaking news, business, STEM and social science stories. Here are your headlines for this week: 

Robo-doping: The use of performance-enhancing algorithms to gain a competitive advantage in esports competition. Esports is a fast-growing field, and that has only accelerated in the midst of COVID-19. In digital competitions, there are no guidelines or rules against the use of simulation programs to enhance performance. Some factors that conspire to enable robo-doping include fast internet speeds, cloud-based platforms, and automation systems. These same factors can also manipulate technology we use in our day-to-day lives. 

Farming tech is getting a NASA-inspired upgrade. In increasingly tight, urban homes, we don’t all have room for gardens. The Rotofarm, by an Australian company called Bace, is a space-friendly hydroponic system, and it doubles as a beautiful sculpture in your home. With a circular design, which rotates plants like a Ferris wheel through the day, the Rotofarm is able to fit nearly five feet of growing area inside a countertop footprint of just 11 inches. 

The pandemic made almost 60% of consumers consider postponing high-value purchases. This lack of clear direction from consumers has put the next decade of growth and market share up for grabs. Some experts are saying the next era must be driven by true creativity and managed risk-taking, which is often inspired by customer obsession, but not defined by it. Expose your teams to new technology, new art, and new foods, and build a sustainable innovation capability to transform this inspiration into valuable new ideas.

Singapore-based smart electric motorbike startup, Ion Mobility, has raised $3.3 million in funding to launch its products across Southeast Asia, starting with Indonesia. Founded just last year, Ion Mobility aims to create more sustainable and affordable mobility alternatives for Southeast Asia’s large population of motorbike users. According to a Statista report, Indonesia alone had roughly 115 million motorcycles in use in 2018, which was about half of its total population that year. 

Finance vs. Accounting: Key Differences to Help Choose Your Next Field With Confidence

We have addressed some of the biggest and most common concerns that many people have when trying to compare accounting and finance. From varying skill sets, different salary expectations, and more, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of both career paths. 

This is the ultimate guide to study before you make a commitment either way. You should have a thorough understanding of each career choice before you choose a path. This just could be one of the biggest decisions of your life. 

So why not let us take you through both disciplines and help you choose between them? 

Finance vs. Accounting by Definition

They may seem identical but the definitions of accounting and finance are quite different. Let’s take a look. 

Accounting: Accounting is the practice of measuring, preparing, analyzing, and interpreting financial statements. This information helps measure the performance of a business and its financial position. 

The data is also important for the payment of taxes. Accountants use balance sheets, cash flow statements, and ledgers to track daily operations. They focus mainly on the past performance of businesses and individuals. 

Specializations in accounting include:

  • Financial accounting: This is the use of balance sheets, income, and cash flow statements to provide information. This data is used by stakeholders such as investors, tax authorities, and creditors. 
  • Managerial accounting: Managerial accountants use the same information as financial accountants. Internal staff then use the information to make decisions about business operations. 
  • Cost accounting: This involves studying balance sheets and income and cash flow statements to find ways of minimizing the cost of production. 

Finance: Finance deals with investments and the management of assets. A financier will focus on decisions about working capital for businesses and individuals. 

They deal with inventory, credit levels, cash holdings, and financial strategy. Finance will usually focus on the future performance of a business or individual. 

Finance can be divided into three sub-categories:

  • Personal Finance: This includes long-term financial planning for individuals. Some of these include retirement and the purchase of financial products such as mortgages. 
  • Corporate Finance: This involves the financial activities of the running of a business. These activities can include investment strategy and budgeting. 
  • Government Finance: Public finance examines tax and government policies. The information studied will affect how resources are allocated. 

By looking at the different definitions, and a summary of the skill sets, you can see which career path best suits you. You can align your skills, financial needs, ability to travel, and career aspirations with the correct job. 

Finance vs. Accounting Salary

Salaries in both professions will depend on the experience of the individual as well as the industry for which they work. 

Entry-level accountants earn an average of $40,777 and the topmost level accountants can make up to $83,800

In New York, some accountants can earn more than $60.000. The region with the lowest accounting salary is in North Carolina with an average of $44,281

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nationwide average for an accountant’s salary is $71,550. 

The truth is – depending on the type of career you choose, these numbers can have a wide range. 

BLS states that accountants in insurance and finance firms earn the highest salary at $74,690. 

It’s important to note that auditing clerks earn the least and with negative job prospects, it’s a career that’s on the decline. 

Technological improvements have automated some of the roles, hence the decline in open opportunities. This could also affect the accounting industry to a lesser degree. 

People who have specialized in finance can earn a lot of money as they move up the ladder. 

Median Annual Salary (USD)Number of Jobs in ’18Job Outlook ’08 – ’28Employment Change ’18 – ’28
Auditing Clerks$41,2301,707,700-4%-65,800
Accountant$71,5501,424,0006%90,700
Financial Analysts$85,660329,5006%20,300
Personal Financial Advisors$87,850271,7007%19,100
Financial Managers$129,890653,60016%104,700

Similarly, there are different levels of financiers, all earning varying salaries. 

If compensation is a big factor when considering a profession, becoming a financial manager is your best option. Actuaries are some of the highest-paid financial workers, earning from $150,000-$250,000. 

The Different Finance vs. Accounting Job Roles

Accountants need to be extremely precise as they often deal with large amounts of money. Even the slightest error can result in a business or client losing money. The role requires attention to detail and a high level of organization. 

Accountants often work alone so this role is perfect for introverts who will mainly create written reports for senior management. 

Financiers on the other hand need excellent communication skills and must be able to interact extensively with senior executives. The job requires presentation and interpersonal skills as they present reports to an audience. 

This is ideal for extroverts who are confident and able to handle high-pressure situations. 

Your interests, education, and skill sets may influence how you view the different roles required by accountants and financiers. Take a look at our list of job roles below. 

Financial Officer Job Roles:

  • Analyze and interpret financial reports to advise managerial teams 
  • Raise capital through debt or equity
  • Create and put in place a corporate strategy
  • Budgeting and forecasting (monthly, quarterly, annually)
  • Handle mergers and acquisitions
  • Risk management
  • Evaluate and advise on investments 
  • Implement cost-reducing solutions

Accountant Job Roles:

  • Collect, organize, and track financial information 
  • Prepare financial reports that meet government and stakeholder requirements
  • Prepare financial reports for internal use by staff
  • Conduct audits to ensure legality and adherence to policies
  • Prepare tax returns and report income to the IRS
  • Advise clients and firms on how to minimize tax liability

Accounting vs. Finance Personality Types

Not everyone can be an accountant or a financier. There are personality traits that will make some people more apt to perform well in each career. 

We’ve taken a look at one of the most popular personality tests used by organizations across the world. It helps employers decide if a potential employee is fit for the role. This sort of personality testing can help you determine which profession you are more likely to enjoy or excel in. 

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator shows how people use their perceptions and judgment. The MBTI instrument measures preferences, not ability or character. 

Used by Fortune 500 firms the MBTI personality test is helpful before placing an individual in any specialized role. 

The personality type ISTJ (Introversion, Sensing, Thinking, Judging) is, well-suited for accounting positions. These people are systematic, analytical, and have a high work ethic. 

Known as ‘The Inspector’, they are traditionally serious and loyal. Leaning towards facts, they perform accounting jobs efficiently. Accuracy is key when they have to look through many documents and information. 

Financiers are shown to be INTP personality types. This stands for introversion, intuition, thinking, and perceiving. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the different personality traits which accountants have vs. financiers. 

Accountant:

  • Detail-oriented 
  • Risk manager 
  • Procedure-oriented 
  • Able to use rule-based thinking 
  • Accountable 
  • Accurate 

Financier:

  • Attentive to detail 
  • Can conceptualize scenarios 
  • Analytical 
  • Inquisitive 
  • Business development skills 
  • Problem-solving skills 

Before diving in, why not take the MBTI test to better understand your personality. Free versions are also available online although they are not the original test. 

You can also check at your school’s career center or your work’s HR department if they offer the test. 

The results may surprise you and they will be key in avoiding a career incompatible with your personality. It will show you your strengths and weaknesses and guide you into a job that suits you specifically. 

Financial Analyst vs. Accountant

After taking the test, you should have some direction as to which job you would like to pursue. Though similar, these two professionals perform very different jobs

Let’s take a brief look at the major differences in daily duties and work environments. 

Financial analysts have a broader job description and their roles are less fixed. They deal with the management of assets and liabilities. This enables them to make future predictions and advise management. They develop investment strategies and are in charge of how to make use of company resources. 

Some financial analysts’ duties include: 

  • Analyzing stock fluctuations. 
  • Creating simulations to forecast the outcomes of financial transactions. 
  • Reviewing spending and revenue projections. 
  • Liaising with management teams to offer advice on financial decisions. 

Accountants have a more structured role and are heavily involved in taxes. They deal with the day-to-day flow of money in and out of a business. 

Some duties performed by accountants include:

  • Organizing company accounts. 
  • Reviewing records to reduce spending and increase profits. 
  • Developing and managing working budgets. 
  • Preparing taxation procedures. 

Generally, both types of employees work 40-50 hours per week. Accountants have a busy February to April tax season where they may work up to 70 hours a week, depending on the number of clients they work with. 

The work environment also differs as financial analysts often have their own offices. Many accountants, especially at entry-level, work in cubicles, although many high-level accountants will likely have the luxury of their own office. 

Can I Combine Finance and Accounting?

The careers are somewhat related, and some employees may perform some of the same tasks. 

The topmost position of either of these professions is that of Chief Financial Officer. It is essentially a combination of finance and accounting in one position. 

With the right experience and educational background, you could have the opportunity to manage a business’s finance or accounts departments. 

CFOs are tasked with the financial planning of a business. They also need to oversee the organization’s cash flow. 

To get to this leadership position, you will need to understand both job roles. You will need to supervise employees and perform tasks required in each profession. CFOs need a combination of skills including:

  • Leadership skills 
  • Management skills 
  • Accounting skills 
  • Data skills 
  • Strategy skills 

Besides a Bachelor’s degree, to reach this management position, often you will need a Master’s Degree. An Executive MBA is a good option if you already have some work experience. 

The Difference Between Finance and Accounting Degrees

Both jobs need a basic Bachelor’s degree but further education courses differ. For financiers, it is advisable to be a member of the CFA Institute. Accountants, however, are usually required to complete a CPA certification. 

See the details below:

So which degree is best? Everything is relative and will depend on your strengths. 

Generally, accounting majors at the undergraduate level are not easy. Students say finance on the same level is much easier. 

If you are starting your undergraduate level, it may be advisable to take a joint degree. It will provide you with general knowledge of both professions and help you choose the best path. 

Accounting does not increase in difficulty at higher levels. But finance does, gradually. 

Benefits of Studying Accounting

Accountants are necessary for all businesses and the profession is currently growing. According to the BLS, accountancy is expected to grow up to 10% between 2016 – 2026. 

Having the right information can help you choose which industry you want to work in. This is a way for you to begin to define a clear career path. 

Usually, after graduation, you may start as an entry-level associate with high growth and earning potential. 

Additional certifications will help you advance your career and get a job almost anywhere in the country. 

Another option is to start your own business. If you have an entrepreneurial streak, you can become your own boss after a few years of work experience. 

If you enjoy systematically working with rules accounting is the course you should study. 

Benefits of Studying Finance

Finance offers a wider range of study options compared to accounting. You will cover a variety of specializations used in the business world. You will also be exposed to areas such as economics and banking. 

By studying finance, you will gain the necessary analytical skills to interpret data. 

The knowledge will also be useful in your personal life. You will learn how to make smart investments and handle your finances effectively. 

The career opportunities for graduates are immense and the earning potential is higher than many other careers. You will also learn how to make extra wealth and not just rely on your salary. 

The Best of Both Worlds?

Advice online seems to lean towards studying both degrees. 

Source: quora.com

So now, what is the best way to advance your career? An MBA or EMBA degree is common for both accountants and financiers. It will give you the extra edge over and above your basic degree. 

For this with some years of experience, an Executive MBA will allow mid-career professionals to work and study at the same time. 

If you do not have extensive experience, a free online MBA is your best option. By choosing students from the world’s top universities, Quantic School of Business and Technology gives you a chance to network with fellow students either face to face or online. 

Student Spotlight: Innovation to Bridge the Gap for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing

MBA Student, Eva Michalkova, has obtained an Ivy League diploma, worked for a former US President, has been a contestant in multiple beauty pageants, and has been a world traveler since the age of six. But what is her life’s mission? Eva’s goal is to empower, lead and support the independence and integration of deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals into the hearing-dominant world. 

When Eva was two years old, she was taken to an audiologist for examination because she did not respond to sounds. The results confirmed her hearing impairment – 99% hearing loss in both ears. Her mom became her rock and inspiration for Eva’s innovative career path. “My mom has been a huge inspiration of mine since I was a small kid,” says Eva. “When my hearing impairment was discovered, she did not give in, and she devoted all her time and effort to my personal development and spoken language acquisition. My mom is a truly capable woman who worked hard in silence to bring out the best in me. She was a leader who has shown incredible resilience during the most challenging times, and her determination over so many years has inspired me to be a resilient, responsible, reliable, and hard-working person.”

A few years ago, a visit to her audiologist led her on a path that would inspire her next career move: “I was handed a pair of the most advanced hearing aids, wired to a computer. They were so small — if they fell out you could accidentally swallow them  and not even notice. Increasing music volume, turning on ‘zen mode,’ setting up a restaurant mode, or pairing them with my iPhone —  I became a superwoman. I left the office so excited; I was blessed to have had my ears upgraded. But I also realized that not all people with hearing impairment are fortunate to communicate with their physicians so seamlessly and have the same advantages as I did. Therefore, my fiance and I signed up for two hackathons to address this obstacle and create a solution. That’s when the No F-ears mobile app prototype was founded.” 

The app was instantly popular and cleverly named to convey the idea, “No ears, no fears.” Its main goal was to dramatically improve the most important aspects of the deaf-hearing community experience, including booking appointments and doctor visits. A live chat tool facilitates a real-time conversation between a hearing doctor and deaf patient, simultaneously translating text into spoken words and vice versa. Since its launch, it has won multiple awards, including two international startup prizes: the 2018 Social Innovation Weekend Hackathon Award and the 2019 Social Impact Award in the Czech Republic.

The hackathon weekends proved to be a pivotal time in Eva’s career. “Both events provided us with a unique opportunity to meet new people and broaden our horizons. Executing an idea requires dedication, persistence, money, and time — not just a marketing budget. To solve the problem you have to know it from top to bottom. Innovators usually rise to the top as a result of substantial life-long expertise in their field, not from problem-solving in a vacuum.” Eva realized the problem was much more significant than just the communication barrier. Her vision could go far beyond a single app, so she created MIRAIO

MIRAIO is the world’s first go-to platform for all people with any hearing loss, at any stage of their lives. Unlike traditional organizations in this industry that communicate with their customers mainly through newsletters and blogs, MIRAIO connects with its audience through social media support with closed captions. The platform guides the viewer through real-life scenarios to ensure a successful integration into a hearing world. 

The global company has become even more popular during the recent pandemic. “COVID-19 and its stay-at-home measures have sparked a massive change in how deaf and hard-of-hearing people access information and healthcare,” says Eva. “The existing institutions’ traditional processes don’t focus on younger customers’ needs, use twenty-first technology, social media, or other modern tools and technology. We are the leaders, the advocates who speak up, and help both the hearing and deaf world move forward. We challenge the deeply-rooted status quo of the deaf society and its identity, and change the narrative of how people with hearing impairment are perceived in the hearing world” 

With the creation of MIRAIO, Eva was inspired to pursue her MBA with Quantic to continue to expand her platform and inspire others to become advocates for her cause. She knew she would need a flexible program to optimally fit into her busy schedule. “To succeed in the fast-paced business world, I aspired to obtain the business skills I needed to accelerate my career. I was looking for a solution that would be flexible with my schedule so I didn’t have to choose between my job and education — with Quantic, I could do both!” 

Eva’s goal is to have the global community eventually reach a point where deaf individuals can seamlessly interact with the hearing world and be independent, with no need for sign-interpreters. “The first and most essential step is to acknowledge the importance of inclusion and awareness of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Equity, inclusion, diversity —  when “hearing peers” use these terms, there is often a lack of understanding in regards to what it means to be truly inclusive of the deaf community. There needs to be profound and consistent efforts to make our voices heard, so that we can enact real change in this world.”

What is a Chief Strategy Officer? Outlook, Education, Career Path 🚀

So, you want to become a chief strategy officer? You’ll be among an up-and-coming group of professionals representing a shift in the way corporations are thinking about business strategy. This broad, dynamic, and well-paid position will have you handling some of the highest-level tasks in the company.

As the business world gets faster and more complex thanks to technology, many CEOs don’t have time to stay on top of it all. Yet, strategy is more important than ever. As the CSO, you’ll oversee the company’s strategic initiatives. You’ll enjoy a lot power and responsibility, so we’ve created the ultimate guide on how to become a competent, qualified CSO. 

You’ll discover things like:

  • What responsibilities you can expect
  • The education and skills you’ll need
  • How the CSO differs from other C-suite roles

By the time you’re through, you’ll have a solid understanding of this unique role and will know exactly what to expect as you embark on the path to becoming one. Let’s dive in!

What is a Chief Strategy Officer (CSO)?

The CSO, or chief strategist, is the executive who oversees the development, communication of, and execution of a corporation’s strategic initiatives. In other words, you’ll work with your CEO to create an overall corporate strategy that produces long-term, sustainable success for your company. 

Corporate strategy used to be the primary responsibility of the CEO. However, most CEOs already have their hands full with being ultimately responsible for everything that happens in the business. Likewise, the business landscape has become more complex with the rise of new organizational structures, increased regulations, and rapid globalization. These have put a strain on companies’ ability to innovate and made strategy even more important. Yet, CEOs have less time to devote to it than ever before.

As a CSO, your job will be to support the CEO’s creation of an overall corporate strategy. Let’s look a little more closely at what that looks like.

What Does a Chief Strategist Do? Key Responsibilities

What does a CSO look like in action? It’s this: 

It’s Monday, and you’re sitting in a meeting with the CEO plus other executives discussing a new line of products the CEO wants to launch. Your CEO believes that this will help position the company to tap into a new market. However, as you’re reviewing the plans, you notice something: your CEO doesn’t seem to be aware of a competitor who tried this exact strategy just a few months ago. It failed miserably. You speak up and throw out a few alternative ideas for your CEO to consider.

That’s just one snapshot of what a chief strategist does, but it encompasses many of the key responsibilities of a CSO. Those include:

  • Providing insights and advice on the CEO’s strategy
  • Identifying market conditions and determining their impact on strategy
  • Overseeing the execution of any strategic plans
  • Driving decision-making that leads to sustainable growth
  • Facilitating the development of key strategic initiatives
  • Supporting inclusive planning processes and communication between teams, other executives, and stakeholders
  • Tackling various high-impact initiatives that may change the course of the company

Who Reports to a Chief Strategy Officer?

According to Deloitte, a CSO may be described as: “responsible for nothing and accountable for everything.” In other words, unlike a CFO or a CTO, you won’t necessarily have a defined domain within the organization. Rather, if an initiative surfaces that will impact the company’s position in the future, you’ll have a role in it.

That means you’ll need to get ready to form relationships with the leadership of the organization. On any given project, you may find yourself working with:

  • Your fellow executives
  • Directors and other high-level management
  • Department heads
  • Project managers

Who Does the Chief Strategy Officer Report To?

According to a 2020 survey by Deloitte, 69 percent of CSOs report directly to the CEO. However, you may report to the COO as well. That’s more likely to occur if your CEO spends a significant amount of time as the public face of the company. In that case, you’ll work with the COO to develop and execute initiatives and corporate strategy.

Chief Strategy Officer Career Outlook

Chief strategists used to be an odd role that many CEOs didn’t understand because they handled company strategy themselves. In 2020, that perception is changing. At least 50 percent of Fortune 500 companies now have a CSO heading their strategic planning.

Consider Young Sohn, the CSO of Samsung. He’s helped the electronics giant redefine what he refers to as its operating rhythms to better embrace the future of a hyper-digital world.

Deloitte’s survey notes that the CSO role has existed for less than five years in 39 percent of the organizations that responded. That just shows how many companies are embracing this role. If you’re aiming to someday become a chief strategist, now is the perfect time to start preparing to be a competent and effective strategist. As Steven Goldbach – the CSO of Deloitte – notes, you’ll one day play a role in helping a company make challenging, pragmatic strategy choices. 

Chief Strategy Officer Salary Statistics

Ready to make bank? Chief strategy officers are well paid. According to PayScale, the average salary for a CSO in 2020 was $185,539 per year. The top 10 percent of CSOs earn as much as $297,000 per year. 

Two things influence your compensation: your experience and your specific skills. Let’s look at both.

What Sort of Experience Do Most CSOs Have?

According to PayScale, most CSOs come into the role once they are “experienced” or “late” in their career. That translates to ten to 20 years of professional experience. Deloitte agrees, noting that 66 percent of CSOs have over 15 years of professional experience, while some 44 percent have been at it for over 20 years.

What sort of professional experience? Expect your competition to have plenty of demonstrated expertise in things like:

  • People and project management
  • Business administration
  • Marketing
  • Finance

You’ll need similar expertise to become a chief strategy officer. We’ll talk about that next.

What Skills Can Increase Your Salary?

CSOs with a good sense of corporate governance and leadership are in greatest demand. In 2020, PayScale noted that these skills could increase a candidate’s compensation:

Chief Strategy Officer Skills & Qualifications

As the chief strategist, you’ll be involved with many different parts of the company to ensure that initiatives stay on track. As a result, it’s more important to develop a well-rounded foundation of skills for operating at a very high level than it is to develop specific technical expertise. We recommend that you focus on:

  • Leadership skills. You’ll spend a lot of time leading project management, supervising other strategists, and working with your executive colleagues to guide the organization. Make sure you’ve got your leadership fundamentals down. 
  • Strategy. Business strategy is a sought-after skill in chief strategists. We recommend that you learn blue ocean strategy to create the best visions and guide your organization. 
  • Management. If you aren’t already adept at managing teams and people, make sure you get up to speed as quickly as possible. 
  • Data. Business intelligence is a data-driven skill, and companies want their chief strategists to be able to do it. Learn the foundations of data analysis like one-variable statistics so you can make thoughtful, informed, data-driven decisions.

What Degrees Do I Need to Be a Chief Strategy Officer?

You will need an advanced degree to secure this role. While your bachelor’s degree can range from business to law or even the liberal arts, the top executives of most large corporations have an MBA. 

If you’re still choosing your bachelor’s degree, we recommend aiming for a business degree. That will help you start developing the foundation that you need to become a chief strategy officer.

The Best MBA for a CSO 

MBAs are increasingly common among the ranks of top executives, and that includes chief strategists. An MBA will provide you with the deep business skills and abilities that you’ll need to guide an organization effectively. However, people who have their sights set on an executive role specifically may want to consider pursuing an executive MBA, or EMBA, instead.

An EMBA differs from an MBA in that the courses and electives you take are more geared toward corporate strategy and governance. You’ll still learn all the business fundamentals that you need, but you’ll also gain additional skills for the board room. 

Many EMBA programs, like the one at Quantic, also let you specialize in areas including advanced corporate strategy or data analysis. That can give you a competitive edge in a world where MBAs are becoming the norm and help tip you for the role.

Another consideration for choosing an MBA program involves whether an online or traditional MBA is right for you. Each has its advantages:

  • An online MBA lets you keep working while earning the credentials you need on a schedule that works for you.
  • A traditional MBA provides structure and focus and is still well regarded in the business world.

Either way you go, make sure your choice offers a career network to help you develop your professional connections.

The Chief Strategy Officer Resume

Ever wonder what a chief strategy officer’s resume looks like? They’re intense. Typically, they:

  • Are action-oriented. Expect to see lots of bullet points with responsibilities and accomplishments.
  • Put experience first, skills second. They’ll be able to demonstrate what they’ve done, but also talk about what else they can do.
  • Only list the most advanced degrees attained. Unless they’ve also got an MBA, you’ll typically only see the most advanced degree listed. Take note of this if you’ve got a bachelor’s degree that isn’t in the business field.
  • Only list related skills and experience. Got a lot of irrelevant stuff and odd jobs on your resume? Time to clean it up and show that you’re ready to be a CSO.

Here are two great examples of what yours might look like one day:

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MintResume

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VelvetJobs.

The CSO vs. COO

You might have noticed that the CSO sounds a little bit like the COO. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why some CEOs question the need for one in the first place. However, the two roles are different for two main reasons:

  • The CSO is consultative while the COO is executive. As a CSO, you’ll be asked for advice more frequently than the COO. In contrast, the COO will more frequently take charge of implementing and executing operations.
  • The CSO is future-oriented while the COO is present-oriented. The COO focuses on day-to-day operations, but you’ll be primarily concerned with where the company is going in the long run.

Being a Chief Strategy Officer for a Startup vs. Corporation

The chief strategist is much more common in large corporations, where the CEO may not have the time to manage the company strategy as much as they might. This position can take 10 to 15 years to attain and typically involves working your way up the ranks within the same company. (According to Harvard Business Review, 85 percent of CSOs are hired internally.)

Chief strategy officers less frequently appear in startups as the CEO typically takes on the role. However, a CSO can play a critical role in a startup if the CEO isn’t confident at taking the strategic lead. Often, you’ll see the role labeled “Chief Growth Officer (CGO)” to reflect the startup’s growth as a strategic priority. 

If you want to become a chief strategist/CGO of a startup, begin developing your career network as early as possible to make the right connections as you pursue your MBA. Look to connect with someone who’s got a vision that interests you, but who needs a strategist at their back to execute it.

Summary: Next Steps to Become a Chief Strategy Officer

The chief strategy officer is a vital but misunderstood role – we’ve hopefully cleared things up a little bit. Unlike other C-suite roles, the CSO is unique in that it doesn’t have a “domain” like finance, technology, or marketing. That can make it a difficult role to understand. The CSO is best understood as a position that supports the CEO. Simply put, if it involves the direction that the company is headed, you can count on being called for your advice. 

We’ve covered everything you need to know to prepare for such a dynamic and broad role in a corporation. From the skills you need to insights on the best MBA to pursue, you’re now equipped to strategize your next move to become a chief strategy officer. Still got questions? Leave a comment below and we’ll be happy to share some insights.