Can Wall Streeters be Self-Aware?

September 06, 2012 1 min read

At Hult Labs we’ve been asking CEOs around the world what they would like more from in their MBAs. And a common – actually, constant – theme from top executives is that they would like to hire more MBAs who are more self-aware.

What science is telling us, in a paper just published days ago (, is that those who are most involved in numbers are least able to reflect on their own pasts. The stereotypes of the nerdy computer geek or scientist or accountant are all true according to the latest brain science studies. It turns out that every minute you spend doing math is a minute that you can’t be self-reflective. Your brain actually turns off your ability to access personal memories as soon as you start manipulating numbers. 

This raises a lot of questions for MBA programs which over the last two decades have put more numbers courses into their course line-ups as Wall Street was increasingly hiring business school graduates. But today, even financial industry CEOs are telling us they want more creativity, self-awareness, and ability to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty among the employees they hire. 

If you ask brain scientists how to get to self-awareness into a business school curriculum, one answer is now pretty clear: require less time on math.