Generalists Make Great “Silo Busters”

In our continuing effort to explain the advantages of our new Integrated Business Major that will launch next fall, I have asked some of our alumni who helped design the program to explain why they think the new program is so valuable…

Robert Case is a graduate of our undergraduate program, member of the Dean’s Advisory Board as well as the College’s Hall of Fame and currently runs RB Case Consulting Inc.

Recently I had a long conversation with someone I deeply respect and admire. She wanted to use me as a sounding board because she is contemplating a career change. My colleague is someone who has managed to get her undergraduate degree while not only working full time, but advancing her career at a pretty rapid pace. Now she’s preparing to sit for her MBA, also while working full time. Darned amazing, when you consider she’s also a mom and contributes time to several charitable endeavors.

The reason for the career change? The company she works for has recently been acquired, and is going in directions she’s not happy with. The reason she wanted to talk? She feels she’s at a cross-roads. Her career path has taken her across several functional lines, and she’s now wondering how that looks on paper….what do I stand for?, She was asking.

I know this person very well. She’s has been a direct report to me. I’ve promoted her on more than one occasion because she has a proven track record of getting things done, of accepting new challenges with a sense of adventure, excitement and intellectual curiosity, and of having that unique talent of bringing people of diverse experience and perspective together. So, it really wasn’t hard to answer her question. I told her she was a generalist – what I like to refer to as a “Student of the Business”….someone who can actually look across functional lines – not only see accounting, and finance, and marketing, and sales, and human resources, and information technology, but more importantly, really see the interconnectivity between all of these critical components of an enterprise. Because of this, she’s an individual who can do something every business I know of needs if it is to continue to grow and prosper. She can build cross-functional teams. That makes her a Silo-Buster. She breaks down the mental walls that seem to grow around departments: A special talent, indeed. I know she’s going to do just fine in whatever new chapter she writes in her professional life.

Our new Integrated Business Degree is designed to inspire just that kind of mentality. To help you develop the kind of business vision that sees the whole, the parts, and the sum of the parts. Generalists like to know not only how the all components work – they want to know how all the components work together! If that’s what you’re passionate about, the Integrated Business Degree was designed with you in mind.


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