I’ve been going back and forth with giving myself this label for years. Actually, for decades.
I didn’t grow up interested in any specific one thing. I was always curious about what my friends were doing. I wanted to try everything they were into. Charlène and her bike. Julie and her skis. Ève-Marie and her horse. The volleyball court with Brigitte et Annie. Academically, I wasn’t strong at any one topic, I was solid at almost all of them.
In college, I thought I was interested in accounting – I liked the definitiveness of how numbers added up. I enjoyed arriving at the order that came after the chaos of moving money around. Until I took my first 300-level class at ASU. I saw my first systems flowchart and immediately reconsidered my degree choice. The following semester, I had rectified the situation by changing my course of study: to General Management.
In my early career, specifically in my AOLT days, I quickly realized, to my surprise, that I could use this curiosity and natural desire to accomplish goals (and get stuff done) to add value at work while making a nice living. “I can’t believe I am getting paid to make sure I understand all that needs to get done, organize it in a way that allows us to get to our goal as best as possible, and then work with people to get exactly that, done!” I had found (or fell into?) project management, which I decided to further study in graduate school at GW. Bringing methodology and measurement to the core of how my organization used its resources to bring value to customers was a great place for my unique skillset.
Later, as a consultant, I started to get faced with larger and larger problems. Problems whose solutions weren’t obvious. Or hadn’t been imagined or tried before. Firsts-of-a-kind. Soon enough, I had spent 15 years studying, contextualizing, evaluating and shaping work and teams to deliver these solutions, excellently. Of co-creating with clients to bring transformational products and services to their companies and to the market.
As I reflect on a delightful lunch conversation with a kindred spirit today, I am confident: I am a generalist. And it’s a beautiful thing.