Competent Communicator Project 10- Are you a Generalist, Specialist or T-shaped individual?

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Dear Toastmasters and most welcomed guest, good morning!

About 5 years ago, I graduated and got my first job as a management trainee in an industrial gas company. We have a program called "career development program(CDP program)", which means each management trainee has 3 years rotation in 3 different positions. My first year or my first assignment is analytical engineer, my daily responsibility is to deal with analytical instruments to insure the product quality. (This is the plant I used to work for 3 months in Wuhu). I have a very good boss, who is very professional and work extremely hard. He gave me various technical training and always share with me good career advice he believed in. He wanted me to drill more deeply into technical field and be a professional analytical engineer. He said that many people are above average at anything, but nothing really stands out. These people are easily replaced and usually not highly paid. You should have a unique skill to make yourself irreplaceable and more valuable.

This terrified me. Yet, I am not sure whether this path makes sense.

What if...I don't have any world class skills? What if...this is not what I truly want to do for the rest of my life? What if...I don't want to be a specialist? What if...there are a lot of other jobs I want to seriously try on?

So I moved on and rotated to my 2 assignment, in external partnership group. My duty is to identify and build technology partnership with top universities, institute and state owned companies. And coordinated with technology transfer and new business development. (This is 2 pics we visited SCUST and Zhejiang Univ) This is a more diverse and exciting assignment. And my boss is a great guy. He taught me a lot and we collaborated fairly well. Now sounds perfect, ha?So I decided to choose this as my permanent job and rolled out of the CDP program.

Well, after a year or so, I feel frustrated again. Why? Because I realized that I was on a path to become a generalist- 'A jack of all trades and master of none', to quote a common saying.' I seem to know a little about everything, but possess no deep, technical skills. I became the person who is easily replaceable.

I need a change. I choose to specialize...well, in what?

Luckily, there was a job opening as intellectual property specialist, I am interested and very luckily got the job. So besides my previous job in external partnership, I had another 50% work for IP management. With time goes on, I feel like this is what I really want to be specialized in.

I become the hybrid of generalist and specialist. Not long ago, I found there is a term describe this kind of hybrid T-shaped individual.

Here's what Wikipedia says about T-shaped people:

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"The concept of T-shaped skills, or T-shaped persons is a metaphor used in job recruitment to describe the abilities of persons in the workforce. The vertical bar on the T represents the depth of related skills and expertise in a single field, whereas the horizontal bar is the ability to collaborate across disciplines with experts in other areas and to apply knowledge in areas of expertise other than one's own."

For engineers, this means not only possessing deep, technical skills, but also having broader attributes—such as empathy, communication skills, presentation skills, and the ability to collaborate—or“soft skills”.

So are you a “T”? If yes, please raise your hands.

If not, that's ok. Some people go the generalist route until they find something they want to become expert in. Some specialist become T shaped individual after they take leadership roles, coordinate projects and build teams.

There are a lot of successful people who are T-shaped people. One classic T is Bill Gates. Bill Gates is not the best programmer in the world, nor is he the world's greatest speaker, salesperson, visionary or accountant. He's smart enough to apply these knowledge though,

I am not saying if you have shaped skill, you will become Bill Gates. However, I noticed the trend that more and more companies are looking for talents who are experts or specialists in a core skill but also have a broad range of skills in other areas. Developing and promoting your T-shaped talent may be the ticket to your career success now and in the future.

C10 Description
An inspirational speech motivates an audience to improve personally, emotionally, professionally, or spiritually and relies heavily on emotional appeal. It brings the audience together in a mood of fellowship and shared desire, builds the audience’s enthusiasm, then proposes a change or plan and appeals to the audience to adopt this change or plan.

Learning Objectives
?To inspire the audience by appealing to noble motives
?and challenging the audience to achieve a higher level of beliefs or achievement.
?Appeal to the audience’s needs and emotions, using stories, anecdotes and
?quotes to add drama.
?Avoid using notes.

Time Available
8-10 minutes


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