Prior to my current career in organizational consulting, I was a Neuroscience Researcher in an MD/PhD program.
After that, I was a consultant and musician part-time in India.
After that, I was a Market Research Lead with Abt Associates.
After that, I did my MBA at a top international business school, INSEAD, as part of the INSEAD-Wharton exchange program, studying across France, Singapore, and the US.
You might be thinking one of two things now:
- I’m crazy.
- I’m bragging.
Both are probably a little true!
….But more importantly, I want to make a point:
It was an unusual approach.
Yet I believe it’s the originality of it that led me to all of my life’s successes, being able to command higher pay, forge a unique brand for myself, and receive recognition.
The Importance of Diversity in Experience
I am what might be known as a “multipotentialite.”
My experience with other ‘multipotentialites’ has shown me that these individuals are great to have on a team — namely because they are agile and can thrive in almost any situation. They can give a perspective that is completely different from a specialist, i.e. someone who has focused their career and interests on a single area.
And indeed, we are seeing how more and more, multidisciplinary areas of research and study are cropping up in importance and even becoming popular fields of study in academia.
I definitely didn’t think, when I was examining cognitive behaviors in mice in a lab at the NIH, that one day I would be applying these skills to businesses, looking at how behaviors can directly impact business performance.
While I do agree with the popular notion that specializing in ONE thing is valuable, I don’t believe it’s the most useful thing for our modern context.
If we look at the impacts of the current, ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we can see this very clearly. Many individuals who have focused their lives on one specific skill or industry have had to face the fact that their industry has dwindled and may not return for the foreseeable future.
As a career coach, I have worked with clients who have worked their whole lives in retail, hotel and hospitality, the arts, and event industries, who have had to come to terms with the harsh reality that their industries may now be obsolete. Having a wide breadth of skills during times like these is invaluable.
But it’s not only about surviving. It’s about thriving.
Often, you need to be able to think outside of the box you are in: across disciplines, ideas, personality types, and beliefs, in order to come up with a solution. To look at old problems with a new lens, or rather, with multiple lenses.
So now you know why I’m so obsessed with diversity and inclusion consulting, too!