Who Owns the Future? Generalists vs Specialists vs. T-Shaped

Image by Mac Mullins

I did a small poll of my LinkedIn network to get opinions on the future of different types of professionals.

Here are how the results turned out:


This tops the polls with over 50%. Generalists are usually professionals with a broad level of skills across functions. Put in another way, they are like project managers or product managers in a small company. I guess that generalists believe with advances in AI, they will be on the top in managing various expert AIs under them.



That’s only 15% of people’s vote. Specialists have in-depth knowledge of a specific niche as you would know. Think of a data scientist in a team of analytics and data. Again, my guess is people believe the future will be of deep experts working in sync with AI.

Probably, they think AI will take up the easiest of jobs of managing and being a messenger (that’s what people think BTW, it’s not me 😉 )


On no.2 with a close to fourth of people who polled. A T-shaped professional combines the depth of expertise in one specific area (the vertical bar of the T) with a broad range of knowledge and skills across multiple disciplines (the horizontal bar of the T).

Think of a marketing strategist with deep expertise in digital marketing but very solid knowledge to work across strategy,social, content, user experience, data, and analytics.


The last one goes to Machine ( Let’s talk about in-depth some other time)

In my career, I started as a generalist working as a Management Trainee, and then joined a start-up.

Unknowingly, to be honest, I started building deep expertise in many areas across marketing with a focus on digital and technology building into a T.

And as I moved forward, it became more like M -shaped. M shaped is more like building multiple expertise areas with other knowledge across.

No guesses for where my vote is. 🙂

The views expressed in this article are personal, and not necessarily those of the author’s employer.


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