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Add Undeniable Value Through Education

By Allie O'Brien

September 13, 2018

In Good Will Hunting, Will Hunting (Matt Damon), comes to the aid of his best friend, Chuckie (Ben Affleck), when a pompous undergrad attempts to demoralize him in a bar. The arrogant student’s efforts to impress the surrounding crowd backfire when Will calls him out for quoting excerpts from his last history exam. Although the trust-fund baby was always assumed intelligent by his peers, he didn’t have an original thought in his body. He had never been challenged or questioned, simply regurgitating the ideas of those before him. Because Will was educated, he proved the bully wrong.

In the real world, being educated is like a super power. It arms an individual with the ability to make their own conclusions and decisions based off of facts and data. This is particularly important today, when we are bombarded by the media’s skewed motives and half-truths. Education empowers individuals to distinguish entertainment from reality. Why act like the most knowledgeable person in the room when you can be?

Although the saying “fake it till you make it” is common, people will become aware of the façade. Once that front is apparent, the validity and credentials of an individual come into question. Chances are, he or she will not be the go-to person any longer. Checking the reliability of a source is an important lesson to learn.

There are two types of education: formal and informal. Formal education involves a curriculum. Examples include education through universities, seminars, training programs, and webinars.

AICC offers these programs, as well as the e-learning platform—home to dozens of free courses that are available to all members. Last fiscal year, there were 3,416 e-learning logins, 1,049 active e-learning users, and 698 completed e-learning courses. As part of the Educational Development subcommittee, our goal is to focus on the quality of courses and an increase in the participation and completion ratio. The committee has created a timeline through 2020 in order to bring the most value to members.

Although informal education does not have set criteria, it is just as beneficial as formal education. Informal education includes taking plant tours, meeting with decision-makers, or asking an operator questions. Informal education gives us real-world experience from those who understand it best.

An educated employee is a value-added employee. Many positions have a job description that lists the necessary functions and skills in that role. If an individual takes the time to master these operations and then further their industry knowledge, they have the potential to offer more than the initial expectations.

One of the most advantageous initiatives one can take is to understand as much about the supply chain as possible. The supply chain, however, is not just a trunk; it is a tree with many branches. Whether you work in papermaking or continuous improvement; sell anilox rolls, strapping materials, or tooling; create ink sets or software; or have mastered the art of being a press operator, it’s just as important to learn about the entire process. If we are able to learn the different facets of creating a finished product, we can be a better resource to those around us—even if it’s not a prerequisite. Opportunities have a way of presenting themselves when we are prepared. It may even be the driving factor for your next promotion.

Learning allows us to go into situations with an open mind. With an open mind, we can observe in an unbiased manner. We can face challenges with a fresh approach. Innovation stems from education. Education promotes curiosity. Curiosity promotes questions. By questioning the way that things have always been done, we can begin to think outside the box. Innovation stems from empowerment. Innovation stems from intelligence.

“Back to school, back to school, to prove to dad that I’m not a fool,” says the titular character in the film Billy Madison, proving it’s never too late.

“If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you,” says KUSHANDWIZDOM, a popular Tumblr account.

We can all take advantage of educating ourselves to be an undeniable positive asset to our team and to our customers. What’s next on your list?

width=150Allie O’Brien is a sales associate at KemiArt US Inc. She can be reached at 843-606-2333 or