Crucial skills that businesses want
You don’t need to have a degree from the business school to be attractive to an employer. Remember, you have crucial skills, skills that you can highlight, and your abilities are more important than any specialized knowledge.
These skills include the ones you learn by doing a lot of writing--writing based on careful reading and thinking--and their importance is highlighted in a story told by the philosopher Leroy Rouner. Rouner describes the situation of his son, a lover of literature who, because he wanted to be an investment banker, decided not to major in English. He later found that he could have majored in anything, since his first employer put him in a training program that taught him what he needed to know for that job. And now, Rouner says, “crunch time” for his son, a specialist in mergers and acquisitions, “comes when he has to give a 40-minute speech to the directors of a company,… explaining to them how he arrived at an evaluation of the company’s worth, what his strategy is for selling or buying it, and why the services of his particular bank can be especially helpful. He has to write a 15-page paper that has a beginning, a middle, and an end; is clear, comprehensive, and persuasive. That’s what English majors do.” (Source: The Key Reporter 66 (Autumn 2000), p. 4.)
For testimonials from the business world, see English Majors at Work.
Prominent English alumni in business
In fact, three of Villanova’s most prominent alumni were English majors who were highly successful in the business world:
- Charles Heimbold, former U. S. Ambassador to Sweden, was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Bristol-Myers Squibb (and said that it was his love of literature that led him to endow the Charles A. Heimbold Jr. Professor in Irish Studies at Villanova).
- Catherine Keating, Chair of Villanova's Board of Trustees, is Head of Investment Management Americas at J.P. Morgan.
- Herbert Aspbury, former Chair of Villanova’s Alumni Association, was Chase Manhattan Bank’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer for Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Advisors for careers in business
The English Department’s advisor for careers in business is Professor Charles Cherry, who has himself served as a consultant to numerous businesses and executives.