Isabel dos Santos Shows Value of Diverse Skill Set


In the present workforce, much emphasis is placed on working on a single skill set and refining that until one is an expert. Many professionals attend institutions of higher education for upwards of a decade before they are deemed ready to start a career in their chosen field. While there is, of course, plenty of value in having a high degree of expertise in a single area, it is becoming more and more common for successful individuals to possess a wide range of skills that span professional fields. Such is the case for Isabel dos Santos, one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Africa. In order to showcase the power of skill diversity, we dove further into her life with the overview below.


The premise of skill diversity

Before diving into specifics, one important thing to understand about the concept of skill diversity is that it is a matter of degree. We all possess a certain degree of expertise in every skill imaginable, though of course there are plenty of areas where the average person’s skill is nothing at all. As a person gains experience in a certain area, their abilities naturally increase. At first, that increase will merely constitute a hobbyist’s skill level, but eventually those abilities will rise to an area where they can actually be put to use in a professional environment.

That level of skill, one that can be used in a workplace, is ultimately the goal of an individual looking to broaden their professional capacity. Though it can seem daunting at first to attain such a degree of expertise, it can be accomplished in many areas through a concerted effort of education, practice, and experience. One can also develop multiple skills concurrently so that a full diversity of abilities is created at roughly the same time. Once such a variety of skills are honed to the point where they are professionally applicable, a host of opportunities can become available, as we’ll see below. Ultimately, this increased access to opportunity is one of the prime motivating factors for the many people seeking to develop skill diversity.


Professional skills at a glance

Isabel dos Santos makes for a great topic of study on the above subject because her range of abilities and career fields exemplifies the power of developing one’s set of skills. The businesswoman is widely known throughout Africa and her home country of Angola for being active in a number of ventures that span many different industries. Past and current ventures for the entrepreneur have included businesses in the fields of energy, construction, technology, communications, hospitality, entertainment, and more.

The range of industries in which she is involved not only shows the breadth of the businesswoman’s abilities, it also helps to explain how she has been able to attain her high level of success. A board member for a number of different companies, her ability to operate business ventures in a range of areas allows her to take advantage of opportunities when she happens upon them through her contact with other professionals. Rather than needing to pass on opportunities because she doesn’t have the requisite expertise, she can capitalize on chances to create successful businesses and raise her own profile.


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Knowing when to transition

One of the keys to the level of success that Isabel dos Santos had been able to achieve is not just the number of skills she has acquired, but also her ability to know when to move on to developing a new ability. For every skill set, there is a point at which developing one’s expertise further brings only incremental gains. That level is certainly different in different areas, but the basic truth behind that rule of thumb generally holds true in most situations. For those seeking to increase their access to professional opportunity, the most pressing consideration is knowing when their skill-level is adequate for their goals.

Assessing this point can be a skill in and of itself, but it is also an important one to develop. After all, if someone is working on a diversity of skills, they will probably not be able to develop any one skill so that they are a leading expert in that field. However, the fact that they are competent in that field, and additionally possess a wide range of other abilities, can actually make that person a more desirable candidate for a professional position than another more specialized individual.


Importance of education

Of course, one of the most effective ways to develop a new skill is through formalized education. In this area, we can again look to the example set by Isabel dos Santos. Though she’s from Angola, she attended educational institutions abroad for much of her formal schooling. This allowed her to gain skills related to international relations while also working on her main area of focus—electrical engineering.

The fact that she made such a highly technical field the focus of her study would come to aid her later in life as she worked to develop other technical capacities. The emphasis that the study of engineering places on problem-solving and critical thinking would also be an asset that would aid her in later skill acquisition. The manner in which she put that education to use, both through its direct knowledge base and through the way it taught the ability to acquire new skills, would be formative to her skill diversity later in life. That not only showcases her formal education but also gives a great model for how to approach broadening any individual’s skill horizon.

In the modern workforce, there is certainly still plenty of value in being a leading expert in a single field of focus. This type of skill set can open avenues in its own right. However, for many individuals, a more applicable career path lies through learning a variety of skills and using each one to identify and act on professional opportunities. The life of Isabel dos Santos, and her ability to work in many different fields of focus, provides a great example as to how one can utilize a range of skills to achieve one’s goals. For those seeking a way forward in their own career, or a way to transition into additional career opportunities, her professional life can be quite instructive.


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