Maybe math isn’t your strong suit. That doesn’t mean you should discount career paths that center around numbers! There are other strengths you can bring to figures-focused conversations. A qualitative perspective is highly valued in these fields to bring context, ethics and accessibility to the discussion.
Here are some career paths that you may want to consider, despite not being a so-called “numbers person.”
There’s no way around numbers in business. Context of those numbers is of the utmost importance when it comes to the application in this field. Whether you’re using numbers to measure progress, make informed decisions or report achievements to stakeholders, you must be able to look at the big picture and discern what they’re actually telling you. They’re not worth much without the story that goes with them.
Suppose you have the interest and capabilities to analyze the data and understand what’s going on in the company or industry. In that case, you have a place in business — even if you don’t like the calculations. Someone with business savvy and operational knowledge can lend insight into what’s going on inside the business and how outside pressures affect the business. With a genuine desire to inform, analysis and due diligence will paint a more accurate picture than the numbers alone. A contextual perspective is valuable to the decision-making process as well.
Accounting and Finance
You can’t avoid numbers in accounting and finance, right? Well, that’s true. They’re going to be part of your coursework — and everyday work lives. You’ll also need to know how to reframe numbers so they can be used to uncover what strategy to implement to overcome obstacles. An example is getting to the bottom of why there’s an increase in expenses or a decrease in revenue. Figures don’t tell the whole story and your viewpoint can help fill in the blanks.
Sometimes focusing on short-term positive financial gains can muddy ethical decision-making. If you have radar to detect wrong from right and have the wherewithal to ask the hard questions, you may be able to alert those too focused on the figures that something doesn’t sit right. Take the 2008 housing bubble as an example: The New York Times reported that the CEO of Freddie Mac was warned by the company’s former chief risk officer that financing risk-laden loans were threatening the company’s (and potentially the country’s) financial stability. The notice was ignored; greed won.
There’s more to management than numbers. In fact, the four aspects of management are planning, organizing, directing and controlling. You don’t see calculating in that list. There are management opportunities in every field, including supply chain management and project management. While it’s helpful to understand formulas for supply chain management, most organizations are using software or at least Excel formulas to calculate any figures. Project management highly values organizational skills, problem-solving and effective communications.
No matter what field you decide on, being able to zoom out from the numbers is a valuable part of the equation. Just because math isn’t your favorite pastime doesn’t mean you can’t have a career that transmits some of its information by way of digits. Consider what your perspective will bring to the conversation.