A business expert -or generalist– is an expert on a variety of fields. He has to have a good, not perfect, understanding of a broader topic and many topics across a business. An specialist is an expert who is devoted to one field or branch in an area of the company (f.e. technology, logistics, finances…). He is often at the forefront of developments, innovations and improvements in his area but he has limited knowledge and view of the ‘big picture‘ of the company.
Generalists have the upper hand
The drive toward even more specialisation in business continues, with many business leaders saying their department or organisation would be more effective if more of their subordinates were more specialist than generalist. However, generalists are favored in almost a third of organisations, and 40 percent say their department or organisation would be more effective with more generalists than specialists (1).
Through the years, I have shifted from an specialised background -in technology- to a wider area which includes management, marketing and operations. With training and experience I have now become a business expert. Have a look at my professional timeline to understand the shift in the nature of my work.
But, what is a business expert?
A business expert is like an internal consultant to the company. He is involved in providing objective advice, expertise and specialist skills with the aim of creating value, maximising growth or improving the business performance. He is primarily concerned with the strategy, structure, management and operations of an organisation. He can assist by identifying options with recommendations, providing additional resources and/or the implementation of solutions. A business expert operates across a wide variety of services such as business strategy, marketing and management controls, information technology, e-business and operations, and supply-chain management.
A business expert directs and coordinates the operations and takes direction from his top executives. He must first understand the executives’ overall plan for the company. Then he sets specific goals for his own work areas to fit in with the plan. He often directs other people to achieve their goals, therefore, he must be able to delegate responsibility. He must be skilled in giving clear, consistent directives and he must organize his work areas so that the employees know exactly what role each has to play. A business expert must understand the work of his department/s thoroughly. He is constantly required to make decisions about departmental activities. To make correct decisions, he must be able to read and analyze a great deal of information in a short time. If there is no reliable information, the expert must have sound judgment to make a decision. A business expert must write clear reports for his senior executives. He must have strong leadership qualities and be able to get excellent performance from their support staff.