Who to choose: A generalist or a specialist?

| 11-12-2017 | Olivier Werlingshoff |


During the last few months this question has been on top of my mind. Is it better to specialize yourself and start a specific study?
First, we need to look at the definitions of both; a specialist is a person who is highly skilled in a specific and restricted field. A generalist is a person who is competent in several different fields or activities.

On LinkedIn you can find the 6 differences between a generalist and a specialist by “Han van Kasteren”.


I will mention a few:

  • Generalist can be more confronting; because they are sometimes not very familiar with procedures and will ask “strange and stupid” questions to understand the business,
  • A generalist will often use the Why question to understand the business,
  • Because a generalist is not stuck in a specific field, he can be more creative and can apply examples previously used in other fields.

But I also thought of two other differences which I would like to share with you:

  • A generalist can make an easier connection between the specific field and other departments because they are more familiar with the different other departments in a company
  • Because a generalist looks also to other departments they became more competent in selling internally their problem or their challenge to find a solution

Now I have mentioned a few bullet points I found on the internet, when can a generalist interim Treasurer be a good choice?

I would say especially in the field of cash management and working capital they could be a good choice. Both specialties have effect on different departments of the business to mention a few; controlling, sales department, procurement, tax and legal.

During my career I talked with a lot of CFO’s and financial managers of large companies and tried to understand their challenges and to help them achieve their goals. As treasurer I had my own challenges and tried to make links with other departments to achieve my goals.

I am a generalist with a passion for cash management optimization!

Olivier Werlingshoff - editor treasuryXL


Olivier Werlingshoff

Owner of Werfiad


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