Finding a Rising Star

Here is a great article about how to hire a rising financial star, but I think the points can be generalized to almost any field.

While there's general agreement about the qualities that distinguish budding standouts, however, experts differ on whether educational background or innate skill is a more significant sign of talent.

For some, pedigree counts. In that case, a good way to start looking for finance stars is to scan their academic backgrounds, according to Teri Valentine, director of corporate finance planning and development at Motorola Inc. Valentine says finance executives at the Schaumberg, Illinois-based mobile-products giant prefer to hire those who have a basic background in accounting from a prestigious school.

On the other hand, Peter Mondani, General Electric Co.'s manager of finance leadership development and human resources, observes that the people who have the hardest time getting to the executive level are the ones who were accounting majors. Mondani believes that raw intelligence—what he calls intellectual "horsepower"—is a better determinant of success in corporate finance. For instance, he recalls encountering a young finance executive who didn't get top grades at a top school. Yet Mondani saw during meetings that the executive could connect facts with business issues "in a way that you were in awe."

People are always debating whether or not management is an art or a science, but I think the question is more applicable to human resources. Is hiring superstars an art, or a science?

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