The entire world of careers is divided into – Engineering, Medical or Arts. And of course, the third option is seldom considered a career ! And even if it is considered a serious career the assumption is that one must be very good at drawing or painting or designing ! If it is Arts, it must be about creativity!!! However, nothing can be further from the truth.
If we look at some of the most successful firms in the world, they all have a commonality ! They have been led by CEOs who have a liberal arts background. So what is liberal arts, you ask? The B.A. degree that one acquires (as opposed to B.F.A., Fine Arts) is a liberal arts degree. A liberal arts graduate is a generalist who gets very good exposure to several areas related to economics, literature, psychology, history, politics etc as opposed to science graduates who specialize in areas such as physics, chemistry or engineering ! This high level exposure allows a liberal arts graduate to cultivate a big picture thinking that technical leaders or CEOs often lack.
When we look at a business, we look at several departments of the business. While the manufacturing department is responsible for building the product they dont have the expertise in understanding markets. This is where a liberal arts major adds immense value. As the CEO or business leader of a company they are able to understand the big picture and put the product in the context of where to sell (culture,segment), when to sell (global trends), what to sell (consumer behaviour/psychology) and how to sell (economics)!
For long we have underestimated the power of a liberal arts degree. Whether one is a economist or business manager or a sales professional a great business perspective originates from big picture thinking. Liberal arts beautifully complements R&D because their perspective is completely different and non-technical.
Remember, if you want to be in the business of building a business pick liberal arts because it gives you the requisite skills needed whether it is logical thinking or presentation skills or the big picture thinking needed to take a firm to the next level !