Some time ago, I wrote a case study about the UST MBC program and submitted it to an academic journal. One of the reviewers took issue with the idea that this program aims, in part, to develop advisers to C-suite leaders. The reader angrily asserted that it was terrible to be “limiting” the prospects of students by implying that they would not be qualified to be in the C-suite themselves.

The assumption in this argument boils down to the idea that every graduate business student should aspire to hold the most senior roll in the firm. While it might be imprudent of me to speak on behalf of all communication people, the vast majority of MBC students and my colleagues over 30 years do NOT hold such aspirations.

Again, I can’t speak for all professional communicators on the subject, but can assure you that I have never wanted to be the CEO of a large organization. I do, however, gain great satisfaction from advising those who act in that role. I also miss the days of ghostwriting articles and speeches – playing my part in the shadow of others.

What I learned in that shade was that sometimes the person in the spotlight can only see so far in front of the stage. As an adviser, the presence of the leader in the limelight afforded me the ability to see some things beyond the glare, and the chance to call attention to the issue off stage. This perspective often contributed to change, although in subtle ways and rarely with any acknowledgement. That comes with the role.

In advisory roles, one must nurture personal satisfaction that can be sustained by self-acknowledgement of contributions and successes. This type of role is not for everyone, but neither is that of CEO.

Dr. Michael C. Porter, APR is director of the Master of Business Communication Program