The words experience and expertise are first cousins. Or, so it appears.
They snuggle close on profile headers. They add base to the voice of a moderator during introduction. They, cumulatively add weight to the persona and often act as a privileged pass to high caliber roles. They make a fine pair. And, as in all pairs, there is friction.
The worth of experience and expertise is often measured with unit of time. The greater number of years, the deeper silver lining. The math seems simple. But as every student who feared the jumble of numbers will tell you – math is anything but simple. And, the sum is not always the correct answer.
When Rohini (name changed of course) walked into her new role as head of marketing in a mid-sized technology company, her bag was full of 15 years of experience and numerous accolades. She brought a track record of success. Her methods and strategies had delivered proven results. She was all set to replicate the success in her new role.
A few months down the road the friction set in. Her experience and expertise were charting a known path, done and dusted. It led to the peak of success that she was known for. The company she joined demanded a fresh roadmap. The peak she was so assured of was not in line with her current portfolio. Her experience and expertise held her back from venturing beyond the known and proven.
The company was in dilemma. A senior hire was supposed to steer the ship in the right direction. They put their money on experience but did the gamble pay off?
What does this mean? Does experience not matter?
Of course, it does.
But it is not an answer for every situation.
For one, the number of years does not always add to wisdom and learning. Experience is a greater teacher, but it needs willing learners. Expertise is always a shifting goal post. A skill or an art learnt once needs perpetual honing.
Experience and expertise make a good pair, but they need company. Intent, adaptability and an open mindset must join the party. The story lies in the distance between knowing and doing, owning and delegating, strategizing and executing.
Experience is rolling up the sleeves and expertise is to pick up the murk and shape success.
But execution makes the difference.