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Software gives us new ways of communicating with each other. Engineers build scalable systems for e-commerce, helpdesk, and video sharing–and these systems do scale, to millions of people. But software alone cannot serve all of the demands of all the users and customers on these platforms.
We need customer service representatives to address unexpected demands. We need design specialists to evaluate the interface that made sense to the engineers but not the users. We need sales people to connect our strange software to an impatient prospective customer.
Engineers sometimes joke about firing all the non-engineers in the company. As engineers, it is easy to discount all of the work that non-engineers do–it can seem unscalable, or non-quantifiable, or mechanical. But most companies would fall over immediately without support, sales, design, operations, and the multitude of other non-engineering roles.
More to the point–people in non-technical roles can drive the success of an en organization. Some of the most influential leaders in tech came from a non-technical background: Stuart Butterfield of Slack; Brian Chesky of Airbnb; Sheryl Sandberg of Google and Facebook. A liberal arts education can foster the perfect set of skills to thrive in a technology company.
George Anders is an author whose most recent book is called You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a “Useless” Liberal Arts Education. George is one of my favorite business writers, and some of his past writing includes pieces about Sequoia Capital, Amazon, Linkedin, and a ton of other topics on Quora.
If you like this episode, we have done many other shows about business with guests like Seth Godin and Tyler Cowen–indeed many of the shows on Software Engineering Daily are not deeply technical. You can check out our back catalog by downloading the Software Engineering Daily app for iOS, where you can listen to all of our old episodes, and easily discover new topics that might interest you. You can upvote the episodes you like and get recommendations based on your listening history. With 600 episodes, it is hard to find the episodes that appeal to you, and we hope the app helps with that.