045: Is being a generalist the new black? - with Jo Thomas

ep 45.png


Generalists are people who choose to focus their time and resources on learning about a wide range of topics. Most leaders in today’s world are generalists. They perform multiple tasks, sometimes across departments, and understand all the moving parts of an organization. Unfortunately, the current business environment places more emphasis on specialising that we’ve forgotten the value of being a generalist. 


Of course, the world needs specialists, and there’s nothing wrong with having an area of focus. However, people should be mindful of the demerits of specialisation. For example, people tend to specialise without knowing why. They pursue lucrative college degrees, spend years perfecting the craft, only to find out later that this is not where their heart is at. 


Nevertheless, the one misconception we need to push out the door is that specializing is the only way to get ahead and take up a leadership position. In fact, the opposite holds true. Most aspiring leaders should be able to wear many hats within an organization. Businesses need specialists to solve problems. But they also crave generalists to connect the dots. Today’s guest, Jo Thomas, is one such generalist. She is the CEO of the Australian Institute of Business, the largest online MBA provider in Australia.  


  • Getting to Know Jo Thomas (03:25)

  • Why Jo Considers Herself an Accidental CEO (08:40)

  • Jo’s First Taste of Being a Generalist (12:02)

  • Data Science and Building Predictive Algorithms (13:50)

  • Why Data Science is the Career of the Future (15:30)

  • How to Give Your Career a Definitive Direction (15:50)

  • Why Jo Decided to Pursue an MBA (19:40)

  • How to Pandemic has Made it Easier to Build Communities Online (23:55)

  • Jo’s Leadership Experience at LED Lighting (26:29)

  • Top 5 Tips for Leaders and Aspiring Leaders (31:50)

  • The Best Leaders Know Their Numbers (35:20)

  • How Leaders can Know Their People (39:40)

Connect with JO THOMAS

Jo’s LinkedIn

The Australian Institute of Business



Connect with me on LinkedIn

Connect with me on Instagram and Facebook

Subscribe to my Youtube channel

Get a copy of our ‘Crush It Daily’ Planner

Get our Courageous Conversations Guide


Jo Thomas new CEO of AIB (Australian Institute of Business).

With well over 15 years’ experience in senior roles for some of Australia's most iconic companies, Jo understands what drives rapid and sustainable growth - flawless execution, authentic leadership, and innovation.


Experienced with both online and offline customer offerings, Jo’s had the privilege of leading large teams of extraordinary people to deliver exponential growth. Genuinely passionate about the human experience, she gets a kick out of making both the workplace and customer interactions life-enhancing experiences. A true generalist, she finds success lies where people, process and data intersect.


Focussed on identifying the tipping points that deliver a hockey stick growth curve, building awesome cultures to support that success, and putting in place the foundations for best in class execution, growth is my specialty.