Qualifications vs Performances. Which is more important?

I feel quite sad for this guy when I read the news.

Top hotelier caught lying in CV resigns
Regional head of InterContinental Hotels Group claimed he had degrees from Cornell and Australia
By Christopher Tan, Senior Correspondent

A HIGH-FLYING hotelier caught lying about his educational qualifications has been shown the door.
Mr Patrick Imbardelli, 46, resigned as chief executive of the Asia-Pacific operations of the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) with immediate effect on Thursday.

‘This is a very serious matter and we have treated it very seriously,’ a spokesman for InterContinental Hotels was reported saying yesterday.

The Singapore-based Italian, who had held the position since 2003, has over 25 years’ experience in the industry, including time logged with the Hyatt and Hilton hotel chains.

He was named Asia-Pacific Hotelier Of The Year just last month by Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, a consultancy that serves the industry.

On July 1, he was to have become a board member of London-headquartered IHG, which runs the world’s largest hotel group with over half a million rooms. It runs the InterContinental, Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza chains.

Internal checks by IHG ahead of this appointment led to his undoing.

An IHG statement to the London Stock Exchange read: ‘This decision follows an internal review of the academic qualifications of Patrick as previously presented to the company.’

Mr Imbardelli claimed to have earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Australia’s Victoria University, as well as a Bachelor of Sciences and a master’s from America’s prestigious Cornell University.

He apparently attended classes at both places but did not graduate.

Mr Imbardelli – who is married with two children – was unreachable yesterday. A voice over the intercom at his Rochalie Drive residence said he did not wish to talk to anyone.

Meanwhile, IHG has launched a review of the curricula vitae of its ‘directors and senior executives’ across its global offices. The qualifications of its people in senior positions will be ‘double-checked’, said Ms Birte Sebastian, IHG’s regional spokesman.

She said Mr Imbardelli joined the group when it acquired Southern Pacific Hotels in Australia in 2000, and that it was not IHG’s policy back then to check the qualifications of people who came onboard through acquisitions.

Mr Tony South, a senior IHG vice-president, will be acting chief of Asia-Pacific operations ‘pending a permanent appointment’, she added.

Source: Straits Times

Sometimes I wonder, why do we still place so much emphasis on qualifications? Isn’t talent more important than that piece of paper?

I know that he resign not because he does not have the qualifications, but because of integrity. He lied in his CV. But look at it this way, if he didn’t lie in his CV, would he be able to get that position? I doubt so. And if he didn’t lied in his CV, would the company given him the chance to hold such a high position with a good chance to perform?

It’s amazing that someone without any paper qualifications can hold such a high position and even win the Asia-Pacific Hotelier Of The Year award. Should we sit down, pause for a few second and ask ourselves…. is a paper qualification really that important? There are a lot of successful people without degree qualification.

Paper qualifications is the only way for an employer to know how good the person is during the interview. But does having good grades means you are a good worker? Or does not having any paper qualifications means that you are not good? Can a piece of paper proof that the person has talent?

Have you seen people with fantastic results in school yet perform badly at work? And have you seen people without any qualification yet perform well at work?

It’s just like the current situtation that I’m in. I’ve been working with the company for 4 years already. I’m a Junior Officer because I only have a diploma. But I’ve been doing things that Senior Officer does. My performance is good, but the only thing that is holding me back from the promotion is my qualification. My boss even told me that I will be promoted once I get my degree.

But why? You mean a piece of paper is more important than performance?


  1. Being good at studies is not any indication that one will perform well at work.

    Given Singapore’s education system, it merely means that you are good at memorizing facts and figures and are then able to regurgitate all that in a single sitting during examinations.

    Work is a totally different beast altogether — it demands thinking on your feet, dealing with different situations, or the same situation but with various solutions, etc.

    I’ve personally seen top students totally fail at delivering work-related tasks, while those who aren’t so qualified do very well.

    I’ll put it another way — work requires us to be street-smart, being good at studies just means you’re book-smart.

    That’s my view, having been working for the past 12 years.

  2. I think a similar incident occured at MIT where one of their top deans was found to have lied on her CV too.

    As much as I would love the world to be ideal in terms of meritocracy, we gotta deal with the reality of life. Especially in Singapore where things are often driven by paper qualifications.

    I also often wonder is the only reason for a university education so that I can walk away at the end of 4 years with a freaking piece of paper? Or is it about learning so much more.

  3. In the hospitality world in Singapore, I think experience favours academic achievements. At least from what I observe now. Probably the expulsion stems from the fact that he cheated about his qualifications. Being someone in the top management position, integrity and being truthful counts alot.

    In fact, I had known someone who had taken a bottle of opened wine from the hotel and was asked to leave because of that, regardless of his ignorance that this wasn’t allowed, even with permission. And yes, he had decades of experience in the hospitality industry. But no chance was given.

    Honesty counts a lot in this industry.

  4. Sicarii: yeap. Then why do we still emphasis so much on paper qualifications?

    arzhou: I don’t know. At some point, I do feel that educations has become for the sake of that paper and no longer for knowledge.

  5. absolutjoiz: I won’t say it is wrong to ask him to leave. He lied and that is an integrity issue.

    But then, if he didn’t lied, would he get the position that he is capable of in the first place?

    Anyway, I’m sure he would find a new employer quickly. This guy got talent.

  6. Actually its very simple. Paper qualifications, though can be faked, is the best indicator to bosses who are unfamiliar with workers. The next best would be word of mouth support and/or testimonials from immediate supervisors.

    If the boss keeps saying wait until get degree, frankly, even if the degree is obtained, the likelihood of promotion is low. Just my gut feeling.

    Unless of course the real reason is that the company has a strict benchmark to follow. But here’s the thing, if the company really really wants to promote someone, paper qualifications really amounts for little. It is the people support from the higher ups that is important πŸ™‚

  7. I agree with you talents is more important then qualifications.Some of my classmates can work but got difficulties in the theory part.

  8. In my view, the hotel did the right move. A company need a man of intergity esp for CEO position. Even if he is talented but once there flaw in his character, the company should let him go.

    Even if the management decided to let him to continue to led, he will also meet a lot problem in rally and leading his team.

    Imagine if your boss or manager was caught lying to the management about CV. What will you think about it?

  9. Mark: My company has a strict benchmark. I’m not the only one. Everyone waited till they got their degree before getting thier promotions.

    Henry: Yeap. Which makes you wonder, why bother about that paper anyway?

  10. Fredrick: Yes, I agreed that he has to leave because he lied in his CV.

    But don’t you find that the system is preventing capable people from holding high position jobs?

  11. Papers can only help one that much to the interview rooms. The rest will be on the person him/herself.

    But if without that papers, many doors are shut bolted strongly against those without. Sad but true to so many aspects of society now.

    I rather go for a streetsmart than a booksmart when hiring. Paper can be obtained but not EQ.

  12. Paddy: Yeap. Although I don’t encourage what that guy did, but I feel that its a case of “Do also die, don’t do also die”.

  13. I don’t know how it works at his level. People like him will be head-huntered for his level of job. Maybe he should have updated his CV and removed the fake credentials as he no longer needs the ‘paper qualifications’ as he has proven track records already.

    IMO, he shouldn’t have faked his CV. I think of it this way: If he was as capable as he is, he would still get to where he is today. Imagine this: there could be another person who is as capable as he is, both of them vying for the same job but the one who faked the CV got the job. The other person lost out because he was honest? So the hotelier got what he deserves now. It was wrong of him to have faked his CV. He shouldn’t have done it. He should have worked harder to prove himself and not look for the easy way out.

    Finally, we are all given a certain conditions and restrictions in this world. We work according to what we have been given. Some are born rich, some are not. It does not mean that those who are not born rich need to rob the bank to even out the competiting field.

  14. Two later told me they had degrees only, one I didn’t to asked further. They used to be in the sales, so you need to do some discounting when talking to them.

  15. Cobaltpaladin: I doubt he can get to where he is based on capability. Really, the system is in such a way that if you don’t have a degree, you can forget about holding top post even if you are damn capable.

    I’m not supporting him for lying in his CV. In fact, I’m against it. But its sad to see the system denying a capable person a chance to perform.

  16. I believe that experience is more important nowadays. But without that certain qualifications (that he lied), he won’t be able to get that job in the first place. Yeah, probably it’s the integrity issue lah ;}

  17. Jacelyn: If experience is more important, I suppose he can get the job without the need to lie. But then, I’m sure he won’t be given the job if he say that he has no degree at all.

  18. But DK, now a thought crossed my mind. If he lied about his CV, he may have lied abt all his achievements. Meaning, he could have grabbed his colleagues’ credits and make it his. I’ve seen such ppl in my workplace before.

    Sorry lor, integrity to me is impt. If you can lie abt CV to further a career, you can lie abt anything.

  19. With his abilities, I think he likely to do well if he start his own business. Like some of the people which was force out at the top.

  20. Starting an own biz right after such an incident will really make things tough. Who will trust or believe someone who has been found to be lying at that level.

    Anyway looking at the above comments regarding having a degree as opposed to experience, it sounds like a chicken and egg situation. Can’t have one without the other.

    So the moral of the story is, get both, work experience and qualifications. For some people, they start by getting the paper. But after a time, if their experience doesn’t increase, their advancement also stops there. So they need to up their experience factor.

    For those who don’t have the papers but get along with hard work n experience, they will also hit a plateau of advancement, thus a paper qualification will give them a boost.

    I believe that applies in the corporate world.

    If you’re running your own biz however, it is a different story

  21. Henry: I’m not sure about how he will do if he start a business. Entrepreneur and employee are 2 different ball game. But I guess someone will try to headhunt him.

    Mark: Yeap. Its a chicken and egg situation. That why I’m doing my part time degree now. Haiz.

  22. Just some thoughts

    1. Perhaps some of the things that educational institutions are teaching are too detached from the industry, hence we are seeing cases where people can lie through their teeth and still perform reasonably well at their jobs.

    2. Knowledge is increasingly less important as the rate of obsolescence increases. What a person knows is less important than what he can know, ie, that he is capable of learning new things fast. A paper qualification is a quick way to filter out those who have not demonstrated this ability. This may not apply if you have worked in your company for several years and your capability is known.

    3. Psychogically, a manager may hold different attitudes for people with higher paper qualifications.

    See post here.
    It’s whether a “less qualified person” could have done the job just as well, instead of someone with the qualifications. It may not be the qualification that makes the person do well, but the mindset of the employers who might give a person with higher qualifications more opportunities to shine, and be more willing to accept mistakes and so on.

  23. project_00: Interesting idea you have there. Maybe school’s teaching are too detached from the industry.

    How many people actually applies what they used in A math at their workplace? Not many I guess.

  24. komirad: Yeap. And they don’t teach those in school.

    Wait… can those things be taught in the first place? Haha.

    project_00: Thx for the link.

  25. It is interesting to note that in my NS days in the airforce my OC got a certificate only but in charge of all the diploma holders, his cert is a specialise cert in aeronautical. My classmate, through sheer determination, from the bottom of the class in primary school, kept repeating until his past his courses until years later he got is masters and went in the right line- telcos which always in demand, recently he told me he got a director job.

  26. I wonder our educational systems, will it miss lots of people like Steven Allan Spielberg, who are not academically bright, yet produce the most successful films in the history?

  27. Henry: I’m sure we missed out a lot of talents. Our education system is like a factory line. There is no room for special talents.

    Paddy: Yeap. But not everyone is enlighten like you. I’m just beginning to see the lights only. πŸ™‚

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