I have been working for about seventeen years now. My first job was as a part time software developer in my mother's friend's company. Currently, I am a Co-Founder and Director of Patient Services at NephroPlus. As I keep saying, my only qualification for my current job is my GFR! Surprisingly, I have never worked in the area of my primary educational qualification which was in Chemical Engineering.
One thing that I have realised after all these years is that if you want to make yourself count in things that matter in any job, you need to understand the numbers, the financial part of it all. Whether it is software development or healthcare or even in an academic institution, money is one of the most important things in any venture. If you look at for-profit entities, this is pretty obvious. The company has to make money. It has to make surplus cash after accounting for all expenses. While this may not happen immediately, in the long run this has to happen for the company to survive.
Even in the case of not-for-profit entities, it is critical for enough funds to be available for the day-to-day operations to be run smoothly. So, though the entity may not generate surplus cash, it is important for some other balancing mechanism to be in place.
Let's face it: in any entity, cash is king. You need cash to run your entity. You need cash to keep it sustainable. You need cash to oil the machinery.
This is probably the only common thread across all organisations.
Therefore, you need to understand the numbers to be taken seriously in any organisation. You need to understand the various financial terms. You need to be well-versed with accounting principles. You need to be very comfortable with financial statements and how to read them.
Now, you may be content being good at your domain and you may find numbers very boring or worse, intimidating. But then, you must also be content not rising to the very top of your organisation. You must also be content not being involved in the decisions that matter.
The best way to get yourself setup for a position of importance is to do an MBA or an equivalent. An MBA gives you the necessary education to become adept at these things. There are many other ways to gain this knowledge. The important thing is to realise early enough that you need to learn these things and to make a plan to do so.
After all, that famous Bollywood actor of yesteryear, Mahmood had said in one of his films: The WHOLE thing is that, ke bhaiyya sabse bada rupaiyya!