{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "My father always talks about how he hit a ceiling in not being able to be the top dog at his company because he doesn't have a phd. The guy above him is world-renowed based on what he's researched and published. I believe my dad could have made it if he'd done more outside work, but he says the PhD would have allowed him to be respected for the job/tier more automatically. He's an engineer. Thoughts?", "post_id": "60f0a0c97591b8002421cbfe", "reply_count": 7, "vote_count": 5, "bowl_id": "55375ce690f5eebe1d2a0f88", "bowl_name": "Tech" }

My father always talks about how he hit a ceiling in not being able to be the top dog at his company because he doesn't have a phd. The guy above him is world-renowed based on what he's researched and published. I believe my dad could have made it if he'd done more outside work, but he says the PhD would have allowed him to be respected for the job/tier more automatically. He's an engineer. Thoughts?

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Is your dad not inclined to management or pre-sales in tech? Absolutely no need for a PhD there, and there is a long ladder to climb. Yes if you want to climb the technical ladder solely, something like a PhD might help. At the more senior levels you are expected to make contributions to open source or research.

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Sometimes we are our own barriers. However it also depends on the leadership above you. Some are rigid in schooling expectations and you just cant get around that. However as a person that only has an associates degree I firmly believe that you can fill you resume with other bullet points that garner respect. And if someone thinks your degree is a measurement of your intelligence rather than your work, its not the leadership I want to work for.

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All companies have a glass ceiling for every individual- you need to realize this and leave when you hit that point. There is a company that won’t have a ceiling. A PHD sure as hell doesnt change that- rarely do senior executives have phd’s- mba from HBS would be a more legit statement- but that is more of a ‘box check’. At 20+ years of exp that matters way more then degrees…

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Can he switch companies?

Maybe for a Pharma company. Other places, I I have heard that a PhD can work against you because you are seen as more theoretical than practical. There is prolly another barrier in the way. Not your dad’s fault. Politics are a HUGE issue at top levels. And often times now, someone can promote themselves faster by leaving to another company rather then stay and have someone else promote them. We just saw that at Capgemini last year, the COO was passed over for the top job after 25 years. He is now CEO at WiPro.

The prestige that keeps that position is fame, not a PhD. That's easier earned through contributions in industry, even for academics. If he builds the next MapReduce several times and gives lots of engaging talks and learns to shmooze like the best of management, he can earn his spot. But then why even compete on a level field? Go get famous through startups, then come back even more famous and be that person's boss.

He may be right. There are some expectations for certain roles, and the higher you rise, the more they expect the degree to match the position. Maybe he wasn't on the right track to reach the top with what he had. Planning a path and sticking to it is important, although even then barriers may come up.

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