The Bloomberg Job Skills Report and Escape Rooms

“Every year we survey the recruiters hunting for top MBA talent to figure out what attributes are most valued in managers and how the latest crop of business school graduates stacks up. As part of our latest ranking of business programs, Bloomberg asked 1,251 job recruiters at 547 companies about the skills they want but can’t find—and which B-schools are doing the best job of turning out job-ready graduates.”
— Francesca Levy and Christopher Cannon, Bloomberg Business

This article from Bloomberg Business sparked so many thoughts in my mind that I decided to write a blog post to make sense of them. The title of this post will make sense if you actually read to the end, but if you don't have time, here is a three bullet summary:

  • Recruiters are having a hard time finding people with creative problem solving and communication skills
  • People with technical skills who want to lead organizations someday frequently ask what other tools and technology they should learn. My answer: none. Focus on the soft skills like visual thinking, which will make you a better communicator, creative problem solver, and leader
  • When considering who you should hire or work with, particularly if you are looking for these skills that are hard find, consider asking "would I want to be locked in an escape room with this person?" rather than "Would I want to be stuck at the airport with this person?"  

Why did the article get me thinking so much? I am not pursuing an MBA, so the school specific visualizations were interesting but what really piqued my interest was the topic of skills gaps. That is, what are companies and managers looking for, and what are recruiters struggling to find? While this could be confirmation bias, I was happy to see that many of the skills that are sought after and hard to find are the skills that I have focused on developing in myself and in others during my time at Deloitte and now within my business.

In particular, creative problem solving, communication, and strategic thinking are skills that I believe can be drastically improved with a solid foundation in visual thinking. Check it out on your own in the article itself, or read my annotations:


Creative problem solving, one of my favorite topics, had an interesting deep dive view: 

I doubt that any of this is new or groundbreaking information to most people, but I had a couple of noteworthy takeaways from the article:


  1. Technology and systems will continue to evolve, and a few years down the road people will programming in languages and designing in applications that we have never heard of before. I talked about this a bit in my Data Viz DC talk (point #5), but this article further emphasizes that in business and all levels of leadership, regardless of the functional area, the biggest factors in your career success are directly tied to your soft skills.

  2. I can imagine a new version of the airport test. What if we thought about it like a really hard escape room. (Side note, if you aren’t familiar with an escape room, it's a timed challenge where you are locked in a room with a group of people, and you have to solve a series of puzzles and riddles to get out). Would you want to be locked in an escape room with this person until you had solved a series of challenges to get your way out? Do they think and communicate in a way that compliments your mindset? Are they good listeners? Communicators? Strategizers? Visualizers? Empathizers? Those are the people that will get you out of the room in record time, and leave you wanting to find yourselves locked in some other room because it was fun, exciting, and you learned from them.