Dr Rohini Rau: Trying Varied Things, the Future of Jobs & the Need for Generalists

Welcome to our section on Real Women—where we bring you stories of and conversations with real women who inspire us, who have changed lives and given back to the community. Today I have with us polymath Dr Rohini Rau, Doctor, Sailor, TEDFellow, Facilitator—Human-Centered Design. She’s also participated in 9 World Championships and won over 30 gold medals, including 9 national gold medals. Join us for a fun chat on trying varied things, the future of jobs & the need for generalists.

A few snippets from the live session here

Adarsh: Hello, Rohini! Thank you for joining us. To start it off, please tell us how you’ve managed to accomplish so many different things.
Rohini: Hi, Adarsh! Thank you so much for having me. Well, it’s because I was allowed to try out different things while growing up, that I was able to figure out what I liked & was good at. As a result, I was also called “Jack of all Trades” but felt the latter negative part “Master of None” much more strongly! That affected me. So, I started doing Bharatnatyam, martial arts, acting, etc. I slowly realised that I wasn’t average at everything but actually good at these. It’s been challenging but I didn’t want to settle for anything less than what I wanted.

Adarsh: Tell us a little bit about sailing.
Rohini: Sailing isn’t just a race on a straight line. It’s complicated. It has a lot to do with wind speeds, current, physics of the boat, etc. I call it a game of chess but with a lot of physical activity because you have to know what you’re doing as well as anticipate your opponent’s next move.

Adarsh: That’s great! You also talk about being a generalist rather than a specialist. Currently, we’re all debating about what the future will hold, especially for jobs. What are your thoughts on that?
Rohini: I was always wondering if I were the only one who didn’t want to specialise in just one thing. What was actually pushing me to do different things? I believe that we need generalists as well as specialists. We as a society need to know that there’s a place for all these people. The future of jobs is uncertain, so employers are looking for people well-versed in multiple areas. So, one shouldn’t try to be boxed up into different, singular things but be good at different things & apply the different learnings whatever you do in life.

Watch the full session here.

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