Education and skill are oftentimes together but not always. Hiring mangers sometimes face the dillema of determining if they should hire someone with an elite education or someone with a historical track record. While I support and envy those who get an elite education it is important to give skill its full merit.
Elite education has the advantage of drawing in some of the best professors and some of the best theoretical minds. What it fails at is that some of these educators are book intelligent but don't always provide practical knowledge on the topics. Educated practitioners might be better.
A great combination is a solid education mixed with a proven track record in experience. With both you can hedge your bets. Past performance often predicts future performance; at least most of the time. Sometimes a change in the environment and incentives may be damaging to some performers.
A strong educational background can make some people more able to understand the bigger picture of theory and put new information into context. That doesn't necessarily mean that coming from a elite university provides the ability to think better than others. Most of the time it is simply money, connections and family background that determine academic performance.
Some of the most intelligent and creative people in the world don't have an elite education. As a matter of fact, they may not even pass many of the classes because they only regurgitate information and don't allow for enough exploration of possibilities.
If there were four major traits I would hire for it would be:
1.) Track Record: Proven past performance or potential.
2.) Education: The right kind of education that allows theory mixed with practical skills.
3.) Creativity: Not all problems can be solved from a text book. To get ahead means thinking out of the box.
4.) Personality: The personality of someone who is a avid learner, humble, diligent, confident and still able to work with others.