From Deloitte’s Vice Chairman, Sandy Shirai, featured in Fortune: The MPW Insiders Network is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for, “Why is a background in STEM important for shaping female leaders?” is written by Sandy Shirai, vice chairman at Deloitte LLP.
As any business leader can attest, the world has become increasingly complex. To navigate in that world, they need all of the help they can get—and one powerful tool is a grounding in STEM. Technology and science are not only central to today’s business landscape, but they’re often the keys to progress. I come from a computer science background and have found my training to be invaluable in my role as leader of Deloitte’s U.S. Technology, Media & Telecommunications industry practice. A STEM education has not only armed me with an approach to problem solving, but has helped me stand out as a female executive.
STEM can get you to the root
When it comes right down to it, a lot of leadership is about problem solving and critical thinking—being able to view a challenge as arising from a set of variables and then building a solution that addresses the most important of those variables. That is very much a scientific approach, which is why a STEM background can be so helpful. A STEM education provides training in critical thinking and using fact-based scientific methods to solve problems. It helps you sift through and analyze available information, create hypotheses, and then design ways to test them.
So whether your business question is: “Why are inventory levels so high?” or “Why aren’t our customers buying our product through traditional retail channels?” or “Why are we selling so well in Sweden but not in France?”—a STEM-inspired approach can help you get to the bottom of it. It arms you with evidence, and it sure beats using guesswork.