Learn, unlearn and relearn
Group chief human capital officer Nora Abd Manaf views graduates with an English Language and Literature degree and other “soft degrees” as equally important as those with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math degrees.
“It’s our belief that it’s important to hire individuals across all academic backgrounds, as every academic discipline equips individuals with valuable knowledge, skillsets, tools and perspectives,” she said.
Academic qualifications will help a talent progress, said Nora, but it won’t get him or her far on its own. For a graduate to boost employability, it is key to supplement academic excellence with work experience and personal development skills. It is very important that employers see the areas — other than studies — in which students have done well.
“My advice is during the semester break, find opportunities to work, build professional networks, participate in voluntary activities, attend industry events and invest time to understand your personal brand,” she added.
A degree in English Language and Literature is both marketable and relevant because of the value that it brings to its holders, creating individuals with a strong command of the English language, with good communication and writing skills, as well as critical thinking, all of which are important to succeed in one’s career.
“There are many English majors who go on to become highly successful people in business, the civil service and technology sector. For example, former Avon CEO Andrea Jung is an English literature major from Princeton University. Former Walt Disney Company CEO Michael Eisner holds a BA in English Literature and Theatre from Denison University. He said, ‘Literature is unbelievably helpful, because no matter what business you are in, you are dealing with interpersonal relationships. It gives you an appreciation of what makes people tick.’.
“Find an interest and build competence to work with others, and develop the ability to inspire and try new ideas. I also emphasise the need to learn, unlearn and relearn — never stop learning! All of these create a foundation that will set you apart, making you a talent who is agile, current, relevant and ahead of the rest.”
Nestlé (Malaysia) Bhd human resources executive director Shahzad Umar agrees with Nora.
“Nestlé hires high-performing talent from all backgrounds who are a good fit. This includes those with backgrounds in English Language and Literature. Beyond job-related skills and qualifications, we look for dynamic multi-taskers who are passionate about their work and thrive.”
Nora Abd Manaf