Are you letting numbers outnumber you?

Are you letting numbers outnumber you?

I hate math. Most children in schools possess a similar sentiment, at least from what I have heard over the last 20-odd years from various students while they were in school. And when those same set of people probably graduated and established successful careers, they look back and question—what was the need for math? Where have we used differentiation and integration in our jobs; why torture and put an entire generation through so much mental stress and madness when it is of no practical application at all? Well, I am a part of that very limited minority population that absolutely adored math throughout and has never questioned its applicability!

And while most of you will think that I am an alien and probably that entire cohort of people who tend to love math are aliens, I think what attracted me most towards this subject was that there is always a right answer. For someone who for the longest time would view everything from a black or a white perspective, I think math gave me a kind of comfort that, yes, there is always a right answer. There could be many wrong answers but the right answer is always one. While it may not hold today, more so in the corporate context, and even I think when you are dealing with people and a whole lot of dynamic criteria, there is definitely more than one right answer but still, math is that comforting safe space for a lot of us out there. So, the whole idea is not to ask you to fall in love with the subject, but to understand the importance of numbers when it comes to a career or when it comes to any kind of work in a corporate setup, especially.

Being a part of Human Resources, interviewing is a huge part of my job and we have increasingly realised that irrespective of the role that we are looking for, we definitely look for a person at a junior or a senior level or even a fresher who has that basic sense about numbers, who understands numbers, can think quantitatively, can think logically and use permutations and combinations, etc. It could also mean someone who understands the underlying principles of all that we were taught then to arrive at more data-driven decisions today. I may be completely wrong, but I think math certainly plays a very deep-seated role in driving a logic-driven and solution-oriented mindset. 

Sometimes when we are interviewing campus freshers, we come across people who find it difficult to mentally divide 200 by 50 and while one shouldn’t judge, I think it doesn’t show one in a positive light. Be it marketing, product, revenue, human resources, finance, manufacturing, or customer service—I believe a field which is non-artistic or non-creative, will have math and logic playing a definitive role in differentiating the most successful from the others.

So irrespective of whether you score well in math or not, make sure that you are working on developing a logical and number-driven mindset which will later translate into having better analytical skills, better skills to read and interpret data, better skills to separate sensible, meaningful data from the rest and at the end of it, enable you to make better decisions. Maybe I’m biased, but I do believe it all started with math. After all, squared or scared, from Mathematics none can be spared!

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Chinmaya Udghosh