Path to create value: Specialist

a.k.a. Hacker, Developer, Expert, Problem-solver, Engineer

a woman working on a robot

Specialist is a professional whose biggest drive is tackling specific, specialistic problems. Specialist’s ambition is becoming an expert or the to-go-to-person in a certain domain. Specialists can independently come up with new solutions, i.e., hack problems. They find utter joy in finding geeky tricks to solve the issues encountered by their colleagues and astonishing people in their environment by making unexpected fixes to everyday problems.

Specialists mostly compete with themselves rather than with others. They are well-composed, methodological, and patient. They aim to improve on their problem-solving skills every day, and make iterative, everyday progress to all their projects. They feel the happiest when they are asked questions about their field of expertise (especially if the person who asked got the recommendation from someone else!), as it makes them feel valuable and desired in their working environment.

Specialists are creative, but in a different manner than creators. Namely, while creators master so-called divergent thinking (i.e., producing concepts and ideas in an unconstrained way), specialists become experts in convergent thinking (i.e., solving specific problems with a well-defined desired outcome).

STRENGTHS AT WORKPLACE

Open Attitude To Problems

Specialists have courage and an open mind when it comes to solving problems. While others treat bottlenecks in the projects as an inconvenience, specialists treat them as a challenge, an adventure, and a chance to shine. They are, in a way, “attracted to problems.” 

When some technical problem arrives, instead of panicking, specialists calm down, focus, and make a cold calculation of the situation. They are among the last people on the team to lose cold blood in critical situations. Instead of “Who is guilty of this turn of events?” they always ask, “How can we solve this issue?”

Employers recognize the value of specialists. They aim to hire someone who not only solves problems according to specialistic procedures but can also operate beyond the map and doesn’t lose posture in unprecedented situations. When employers say, “We are looking for a specialist,” what they truly mean is, “We need a specialist. Now!” 

That’s why specialists rarely have problems with finding jobs today. They are desired in virtually every working environment. However, rather than with landing jobs, they might have a hard time self-navigating in their working environment—as explained in the subsequent part of this chapter.

High Execution Skills

Startup initiators (who are often creators) also badly look for specialists. They know that a specialist will make an invaluable contributor to the team. That’s why they treat a specialist as firm material for a co-founder. After all, the specialist is the team member who is the main value creator in the project. 

It is because bare ideas without good execution are worth literally nothing. Anyone has “million-dollar ideas” at least a few times in their lives, yet, most people won’t ever become millionaires as they can’t execute those ideas. Startups just can’t function without a specialist on board!

Usually, it’s also much more challenging for a creator with a startup idea to find a specialist to put this idea to life than the other way around. It’s because there many more people with a bare idea in hand, than the number of specialists with all the technical aptitude necessary to put these ideas to life, and some spare time to do it.

That’s why specialists willing to join the startup culture and build projects as co-founders or core team members, usually have many projects on the table to choose from, and multiple people lining up to work with them.

Focus and Profound Knowledge

Specialists prefer to specialize and become the top experts in a narrow domain rather than becoming the jacks of all trades. This approach allows them to develop a deep understanding of a particular class of problems.

Specialists also have that one strength invaluable in the job market today. Namely, they can properly focus on one task and keep working for many, many hours. It is, in itself, a proper reason to hire someone! Problems with working memory have become a serious societal issue as of today—most employees cannot help checking their phones every five minutes during working hours. The fact that the specialist can give one problem their undivided attention is a formidable advantage highly appreciated by employers.

Loyal

Specialists chase after problems. Most of the time, their primary ambition is to build a portfolio of successful, ambitious projects rather than develop an impressive list of positions at prestigious companies. 

For this reason, they are often happy to stay with one employer for many, many years—for as long as they feel that they can still grow, improve their skills, and challenge themselves every single day.

It is an invaluable benefit for the employers who are tired of the “tourists”: people who come to the projects to look around, collect some experience to put on their resume and leave on the first occasion.

Adaptable

All professionals prefer to be involved in projects that resonate with their values and beliefs. However, many of them are no longer satisfied with their jobs if they disagree with any activity or policy of their employer. Or, if their professional mission diverges from their employer’s mission in any way. Or, if they cannot actively influence this mission.

Specialists, however, are highly adaptable. Of course, they wouldn’t agree to do projects that go against their internal sense of ethics. However, they also don’t expect their employers to represent an identical set of values and professional mission as them. They choose to accept the hiccups, look at the bright sides, and appreciate the points in which their goals align with the employer’s goals. For this reason, specialists typically are more satisfied from their professional lives than most of the other professionals in the job market. 

Reasonable Expectations and the Ability to Find Joy at Work

Specialists are down to Earth. They cherish the feeling of doing what they enjoy for a living, without expecting fireworks every single day of their careers. And, they accept that between the days of glory, there will be the days of boredom. Namely, numerous working days will boil down to tedious troubleshooting without any form of gratification—and it is ok.

Moreover, specialists do not need groundbreaking discoveries or billion-dollar ventures to feel accomplished and happy at work. A success as little as answering a specialistic question to a colleague or finding and eliminating a bug in a crucial piece of the code is good enough to make their day. Nothing improves the specialist’s mood better than observing the astonishment on the face of the helped person once they get their “Aha!” moment.

Specialists enjoy every working day. They can just let go, focus on doing the work and cheer it without wondering, “What is my next career move?” or “How can I strengthen my resume by doing this?”, or “How do I get my next promotion as fast as possible?” Their colleagues also enjoy the accompany of such a modest and positive person who is not career-oriented, who doesn’t question the purpose behind the projects all the time, and who does not develop a double agenda.

Lastly, specialists develop reasonable expectations towards their bosses. They do not expect their boss to be an expert in every single domain. Rather the opposite. They feel satisfaction if they can teach their boss specific subjects related to the project. They keep professional relations with their bosses, but they draw a line between professional and private life and do not expect bosses to become their friends. And since they keep their expectations under control, they rarely experience disappointments in that department.

High Professional Ethic

Specialists are also known in their environment as professionals with high degree of professional ethic. Self-disciplined and driven, they use to overdeliver and meet all the (reasonable) deadlines even if it means going on the crunch mode and speeding up the work shortly before the “day of judgment.” They are internally motivated and independent at work, therefore, they don’t need to be tended or whipped to produce the desired results.

When they come to the office, they come to work on the projects rather than chitchat, gossip, or play games. They are friendly, join social gatherings at work, and are eager to listen to other people’s problems. However, their focus always comes back to the projects and technical bottlenecks they tackle at the moment. This is one of many reasons why they are so productive at work.

There are exceptions of course, but most specialists also prefer to avoid conflicts at any cost. They don’t see the point in arguing about details at work: discussing who should be acknowledged for every single detail in the project, who should start or end the final presentation, or who should take the desk by the window. They value friendly relations at work and they can take little inconveniences in the name of holding good karma on the team.

They also rarely break the rules. Although they might not be fond of  instructions and procedures—just as everybody else—they accept the reality and try to solve problems within the framework that they are given. In other words, their “hacking” means “hacking the problems” and not “hacking the rules.”

For all the aforementioned reasons—namely, problem-solving skills, avoiding conflicts, not talking behind other people’s back at work, and sticking to the rules at workplace—specialists are seen as decent and trustworthy individuals.

Rational Truth-Tellers

Specialists, especially in the startup culture, are often the voice of sanity on the team. They are not as much of natural risk takers as creators, and they are not as overly optimistic as linchpins. 

Therefore, they often are the ones who save the projects by dragging other team members back to Earth and making them aware of all the things that can potentially go wrong. Many, many startups were saved only because the specialist was able to stop the ego games and creating the unrealistic scenarios, and instead, craft a modest yet realistic plan of development. 

For this reason, in the startup culture, specialists are sometimes perceived as “stiff,” “conservative,” or “not inspiring” and they rarely represent projects when it comes to taking to investors or clients. But in fact, they are just truth tellers who stand firm on the ground—and in the grand scheme of things, it’s priceless.

Talents Reveal Early On

Technical aptitude is a type of skill that—unlike some meta-skills such as salesmanship or business acumen—can be recognized early in the education process. This opens an opportunity for the specialist to get trained towards developing their talents right from an early start. 

Many professionals need to pave their path on their own, and spend many years in a lonely odyssey through the job market before they finally find their niche. While specialists can be discovered and guided by caring high school and academic teachers, so that they develop their natural talents during the public education process, and smoothly grow right into highly qualified professionals in the area of the market where their skills are most desired. It saves so many years of stress and uncertainly!

WEAKNESSES AT WORKPLACE AND CAREER PITFALLS

Not Selling Oneself Well Enough

Specialists find pleasure and satisfaction in solving issues rather than standing on stage and selling themselves. Although these are not mutually exclusive characteristics and sometimes come together, specialists rarely seek for attention or public acknowledgment.

It doesn’t mean that specialists are necessarily shy or insecure. They know their value, especially after many years of working in the field. However, they often believe that their work should speak for itself.

This often creates opportunities for people around. Namely, for those who don’t have as bright minds and as much drive to push projects forward, yet, who wish to warm themselves in someone else’s light. It is sometimes the case that effectively, the specialist is the one who creates all of the Intellectual Property (IP) in the company or a department hiring ten or twenty people.

Yet, their manager introduces the output to the higher management levels as a “team effort” and no one beyond this unit can truly recognize the specialist’s contribution.

Therefore, specialists are in danger of getting overlooked when it comes to promotions, and not getting enough credit for what they do. In fact, it is the main reason why specialists often change jobs. Namely, they feel that they are the ones who create the actual product—while other team members mostly do the administration, logistics, or communication around their work—yet eventually, they get less acknowledgment and lower paycheck than their colleagues.

Specialists are also so focused on saving the problems of their team—rather than hustling around—that they often overlook opportunities in their workplace, or even in the job market in general. Especially in the open working environments such as large corporations, employees often need to find their opportunities all by themselves. 

Many of these opportunities you can learn from a casual chit chat by a coffee machine, and that’s where specialists rarely go. In the end, they often feel that they are the hardest working people in the company, yet, the worst informed and at the end of the pecking order when it comes to prestigious internships or promotions.

Some specialists are also introverts who believe that good trade in hand and skills will always win with the ability to get ahead in the long run. Unfortunately, this is not true these days, and by relying only on your knowledge, you could end up a frustrated and underpaid employee.

A Constant Need For Challenge

As mentioned before, specialists are usually loyal by nature. However, they also need to feel challenged at work. If they find themselves in a situation in which they know the company inside and out—including all the procedures, all the details of the product and the pipeline—and there are no more major bottlenecks to tackle, they might feel like suffocating, and get a strong urge to change the workplace.

Losing the Picture

Specialists love analyzing problems in fine detail. They get deeper and deeper into the project until they get a perfect understanding of every single aspect of it and work out the solution… or until time runs out. Specialists are always in jeopardy of drowning in details and losing the overall picture. 

As a specialist, you need to always remember the objectives of the project. No one will appreciate your wonderful, innovative solution to one of ten problems in the project if the other nine problems will remain unsolved. In most circumstances, efficiency in hitting the targets is valued higher than creativity—or rather, creativity is only appreciated under the condition that all the targets are met.

Victims of “Business Developers”

Many specialists desire to join the startup culture as startup co-founders (usually lured in by the befriended linchpins and creators)—but this scenario has many caveats. At business meetups, they might encounter many “business developers.” These people are not real creators or real visionaries but rather, “serial entrepreneurs.” 

A so-called serial entrepreneur is someone who usually already had a number of businesses before but failed miserably in each one of them, and is now hustling around trying to find a new way of making money—usually, in a brand new discipline. Yet, these people often sell themselves well and make an impeccable first impression.

And so, they present their “million dollar idea” to the specialist. Namely, they have a great plan for how to make millions, and all they need is to find a handyman to execute the concept in an exchange for a “generous” few percent of the company.

For specialists, specially at the point when they are still young and looking for their way in the job market, it is easy to fall into this trap. After all, someone much older and more experienced comes to them and offers them shares in their company. At LinkedIn, that person looks highly accomplished, well connected, and legit.

So, they feel appreciated and enthusiastically join the project, only to realize a few months (or even a few years) later that they are in fact the only ones who contribute for real.

And, for worse, the project is now worth absolutely nothing. Specialists are not as naturally skilled in assessing the overall, global value of projects as creators. They focus on the problem solving rather than on the philosophical implications of the project, or on its global market potential. Therefore, many specialists have a rocky start into the startup culture, and need to learn in the process how to be picky with choosing the right projects to work on—and how to make sure that their payoff is proportional to the value that they’ve put into the project.

Ending Up With Specialistic Skills no Longer Desired in The Job Market

Specialists go deep into problems which often requires acquiring specialistic knowledge that is only useful in one particular discipline, e.g., solving specific types of mathematical problems, mastering building certain types of machines in engineering, or acquiring cutting-edge laboratory skills in a particular subdomain.

The vast majority of technical skills are transferable and can well be adopted across multiple fields of the market. However, there are still multiple skills that are only useful in some narrow field, or can become obsolete as soon as a new technology supersedes the current one.

Therefore, some specialists can find themselves in a trap of sorts when one day, the technology they are specialized in is suddenly wiped out of the market on behalf of some brand new technology. That’s why it is always good to ask yourself: how specific are my skills? Will they still be relevant in ten or twenty years from now?

You Need To Track The Progress in AI and Machine Learning

Today, many jobs that were traditionally the domain of human specialists, are getting replaced by automated algorithms. This happened, e.g., to most stock brokers: what was done by humans in the eighties, is now almost solely done by trading bots. When developing a career as a specialist, you need to always keep this in mind, and keep asking yourself, “What is my edge?”

The best strategy to make sure that you won’t get replaced by a machine one day, is to combine some fundamental knowledge in a certain discipline with your technical skills. Using the example of stock brokers, those who “survived” the digital revolution in the stock exchange were mostly those who learned the fundamental analysis: assessing the real value of stocks they invest in, and spotting the valuable ones. And then, they combined this analysis with using effective automated tools.

No Affinity To Management

In many areas of the market such as academia or IT industry, an experienced specialist is automatically promoted to the management role. You just have to go up in hierarchy, or you need to get out of the system—there is no middle ground.

For some specialists it is a good news as they feel tired of hands-on work and would now prefer to mentor younger peers, or they have a personal ambition to try themselves as managers. However, many specialists don’t fancy management positions at all, and treat this necessity to get promoted as a liability.

Indeed, if you are a specialist, such a situation might happen during your career. Namely, it can happen that your experience is so invaluable that you must take a management position because there is no one else who could do it better. 

For this reason, it is good to take a few courses in project management during your career as a specialist, and closely watch the hands of your managers to learn from them—in case you will need to take a management role at some point in your career.

Victims Of Their Own Loyalty

In the dynamic job market of today, employers no longer expect their employees to stay around for decades. Yet, similarly as contributors and missionaries, specialists exhibit loyalty and if they enjoy their workplace, they usually prefer to stay around for as long as they can. 

Unfortunately, this approach can lead to less income long-term. Research revealed that flipping jobs and positions relatively often can lead to substantially higher income than staying in one place. More specifically, “employees who stay in companies longer than two years get paid 50% less” (Keng, 2014). 

Therefore, as a specialist, you need to monitor your earnings and ask yourself whether your salary corresponds to the current market value of your work. Don’t hesitate to ask for a raise yearly, or look around for other opportunities if your salary no longer matches the value that you build for the company.

EXAMPLES OF SPECIALISTS IN VARIOUS WORKING ENVIRONMENTS

Specialist In a Private Company Or Public Institution

Today, specialists are wanted everywhere in industry. They populate R&D departments at companies of all sizes, developing the products. They also work as consultants, engineers, architects, and quality testers. 

Furthermore, specialists also do market research for the company (i.e., sales department), analyze the functionality of the current company structure (i.e., operations), analyze finances (the financial department), take care of the company’s hardware and software infrastructure (the ICT department), and many others. Without a well-managed team of specialists, no company would ever achieve and maintain a status of a leader of innovation in their field.

Companies recognize the value of specialists for their business. Therefore, they make efforts to be competitive as employers and to give specialists enough room to grow. If you decide to join a middle- or large-sized company, you can be sure that every 2-3 years, you will be offered a diagonal promotion—a new position, likely more senior and in another department, and with new challenges and opportunities. The employer will make sure that you never get bored, never stop learning, and never think of working elsewhere.

Specialist-entrepreneur

Specialists with a sweet tooth for business also get a chance to develop their own company. As mentioned in the section Victims of “Business Developers,” as a specialist, you need to be careful about building business partnerships. Telling the difference between a genuine visionary and a future Steve Jobs, and yet another “serial entrepreneur” looking for competent and hard-working people to build their pseudo-creative projects and make them rich might be harder than you think. 

Furthermore, it is not a good idea to build a company with your best friend and rely on this friendship as a fundament for the company—what decides about success in real-world is competence and action. 

As mentioned in the section Hacking Skills Don’t Always Go Along With Business Acumen, you will also need to make sure that in your business, you don’t try to solve non-existent problems. Therefore, some initial training in business development and help from experienced business developers will be necessary to get a good start to a business career.

Craftsman-academic

Craftsmen-academics are oriented at becoming a world-class authority in a specific subdomain of their research field. For craftsmen, research is primarily about doing research—rather than showmanship, building a public image, or political games. Craftsmen are organized, look ahead, and plan projects for many years to come. They usually choose to systematically build their name and publication record in a specific field rather than pivoting and experimenting with other branches of science. 

They remember about the risks and uncertainties associated with research while planning their agenda. Therefore, they choose to build a portfolio of projects of varying complexity and always have a plan B at hand. Even if they are empathic, they don’t use this empathy at work. They believe in the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” therefore, they often prioritize their own careers over the careers of other people around them. They play it safe in their professional lives—some craftsmen even side-hustle by setting a little business aside, in case their career didn’t go the way they wished.

Craftsmen might be officially involved in dozens of collaborations, but deep inside, they are loners. They are in charge of projects, they have all the necessary technical skills, and they would enjoy pursuing research projects on their own (as professors, they often have no time for it anymore though). 

They value loyalty: they tend to create a tight safety net, consisting of a little number of people who think alike. Craftsmen to them, and partner in science for a lifetime. For example, if they catch a good connection with their PhD advisors, they often collaborate for the next 30 years.

Craftsmen are principled and sometimes uncompromising when it comes to project execution. However, they are highly efficient at work and gallop forward in their careers like a thunderstorm. Since they are focused on one research line, they can pursue especially complex, “acrobatic” projects that require a very high degree of concentration and perseverance. 

They also have the aura of competence. Other people often feel relief craftsmen them knowing that they have to do with someone knowledgeable who is efficient and who will steer the project in the right direction.

HOW TO DEVELOP A CAREER WITH THIS PROFILE?

How to Start a Career

In general, specialists don’t have any major issues with starting a professional career these days. In virtually any industry, they are welcome with open arms, and offered attractive working benefits right of the bat. Also, in most positions occupied by specialists, e.g., on specialistic positions, employees and freelancers are rewarded shortly after they start producing value rather than waiting for years (like creators often need to do).

Of course, it doesn’t mean that there are no pitfalls waiting for specialists. You should be careful with your job applications, especially at the initial stages of your career. For instance, as a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t agree to do unpaid work as a part of the job interview. 

Unfortunately, this practice is popular in many countries and the output from micro-projects serving as the “recruitment assistance” is often used for commercial purposes in fact. It is also not. Good idea to agree for unpaid internships or working solely in exchange for startup shares. In practice, it often means that you are left with nothing. 

Moreover, there is a great difference between finding a job and a good job. If at the interview, the recruiter cannot tell you what your role and your scope of duties will be, it is a clear red flag. Other warning signs include, among others, messy interviewing schedule, chaotic hiring day, wrong attitude from the recruiter, warning Glassdoor reviews, and short average contract durations within the company.

Furthermore, as a specialist, you should prevent yourself from the possibility that  one day, you will end up under impasse when your specialistic skills become obsolete in the job market. To avoid such a dead-end career, it is good to think about your transferable skills from early on. Are you learning programming languages? Invest your time in widely applied languages that are now getting in popularity, not in ancient and niche languages just for the fun of it. Are you into engineering? Think about the specific branch of engineering that have the most applications across multiple industries. 

You should also take care about your personal brand. It is no longer the case that building a name is the domain of thought leaders, entrepreneurs and artists. Today, every professional should be easily searchable online. A decently filled LinkedIn profile is a bare minimum—this profile should present a compelling story of who you are as a professional. 

It is also advisable to create a personal landing page that contains a resume, it is however not absolutely necessary. If you enjoy writing, building a name by posting LinkedIn or Medium or writing your own blog articles on topics within your professional field, is also a great way of building a brand. Remember that good name, the same as impact, is not built overnight. It takes years. However, if you put little effort into it steadily, you will see the results after a few years time. 

Blogging is a way of building a network outside your workplace—it is not the only way though. It is also good to attend small, local evening meetups in your area of expertise, be active on the online forums, and make friends with people working in other companies in the same area of the market. Personal contacts are the shortcut to getting career opportunities. Building a personal network is an investment for life!

 

How To Look for Jobs / How To Start Working

The specialist’s edge lies in a combination of technical competencies and strong professional ethic. Thus, at the job interview it’s good to underscore that you are a specialist with a great deal of self-discipline, and that you are loyal to your employers for as long as you feel you can still grow and feel challenged.

Of course, you should still make good effort to convince the employer that you are a good specialist—not by just saying so, but by providing with examples of problems and difficult situations that you’ve solved so far.

You can, in example, use the popular STAR technique for this purpose. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Approach, and Results and is a simple screenplay that you can use to describe your successful “hacks” at work (Higgins, 2014).

Furthermore, you should look at the situation from the employer’s perspective and make sure that you explain how your knowledge and skills can help them in their vision and goals—even if you are not as personally invested in the company’s vision. Even the best specialist won’t be hired if they don’t give an impression that they learned about what the company is doing, and that they are excited about the topic and the opportunity.

And if you are leaning towards business development, you need to first learn your value. People with technical aptitude are the minority in the business circles, and  they are in fact the driving force that allows startups to kick off from the ground. Yet, they are often lured in by the experienced “business developers” and work on projects on bad terms. 

Therefore, you will first need to learn your value as the person who can chose projects to work on. You will also need to learn about the trends in the field to be able to tell which project has the best potential. Perhaps it is also good to find a befriended business developer to consult projects with. 

 

How To Self-Manage in Daily Life

Specialists usually don’t have any issues with organizing their day, or their project. They are also relatively good at maintaining the work-life balance. However, what is more often an issue to specialists, is selling themselves at work: making sure that the management recognizes how indispensable they are, and rewards them accordingly. 

For this reason, for most specialists, it is usually a good idea to work on self-presentation skills from early on. Even if you don’t aim to become world-famous specialist such as, e.g., Steve Wozniak, you will still need some self-presentation skills to make your environment see your value. And, if you are planning to join the startup culture as a specialist, you will also need to learn the basics of reading people. Namely, you will need to learn how to recognize people’s credentials and intentions before you decide to work with them. 

Furthermore, push yourself to find time for networking. Remember that building social capital works like a compound interest. Even if you are not a natural networker, treat building contacts like a long-term investment — and you certainly won’t regret.

If you feel unhappy at work as a specialist, it is usually due to at least one of two reasons. The first possible reason is that your feel undervalued on the team. You produce the most of the IP, or you create the whole product that the company is based on, while at the same time, your salary does no reflect it and you are paid less than some of your colleagues. In that case, don’t be afraid asking for a raise! There is a good chance that you might but the deal with your employer. 

The second common reason why specialists are often unhappy at work is that, they no longer feel challenged. This is also a good reason to talk to your manager and try to come up with some solution together. Most companies have way too many challenges to struggle with at a time, so your willingness to increase the difficulty or number of your projects might actually be a good news for your manager!

EXAMPLES OF FAMOUS SPECIALISTS

Steve Wozniak

a.k.a. Woz: An American entrepreneur, engineer, programmer, and philanthropist. Famously, in 1976 he co-founded Apple together with Steve Jobs (check Creator: Examples of Famous Creators). The company has become the world leader in IT with one of the strongest brands in the world. 

Wozniak was a major contributor to Apple’s success. In June of 1975, his prototype of Apple I got to work. This prototype was the fundament of Apple’s market success—it initiated the whole line of Apple personal computers, and eventually made its inventor famous. 

Wozniak is known as an extremely apt engineer with talent and skills impressing all the engineers who knew him at a time. As mentioned in the book, “Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography” by Walter Isacson (2011), the tasks that he could accomplish within days were what other engineers of his age needed months or even years for. 

Nikola Tesla

An Serbian-American scientist, inventor, electrician, engineer, and futurist. Despite being a university dropout, he invented dozens of machines and systems that are the fundaments of the electronic industry until this day.

He is best known for his contributions to the design of modern knowledge about the nature of electricity, especially the alternating current, and for building effective electricity supply systems. He also, among other achievements, discovered X-rays, built the first hydroelectric power plant, constructed an inductor motor, and built wireless transmission systems.

Edward Snowden

An American computer security consultant known for leaking highly classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013 when he was an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In 2016, he became the chair of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a San Francisco-based charity that protects journalists from government surveillance. 

His actions within the CIA were highly controversial to the public—he was called anything from a hero and a patriot to a traitor and a dissident. However, what he managed to do was revealing numerous global surveillance programs to the public, which opened the eyes of society to the problem.

Maria Skłodowska-Curie

A Polish and naturalized French physicist and chemist. She is best known for conducted novel research on radioactivity, which resulted in two Nobel Prizes, including the first Nobel prize ever awarded to a woman. To this day, she is the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two scientific fields (in Physics, 1903, and in Chemistry, 1911). 

She paid for her research success with her now life, dying from radiation in 1934, aged 66. She was not only a great specialist in terms of her scientific achievements, but also, in terms of her political game.

She grasped the rules behind the academic system early on and realized that her whole success and future in science depends on her publication speed. Therefore, she maneuvered in a way to speed up the publication of her findings to the maximum. In the end, she won the game against a few other researchers who were working on similar subject matter at a time.

Henry Ford

An American industrialist, engineer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is most known for creating Ford, model T: the first car that middle-class citizens could afford. He achieved this by constructing the first assembly line for the mass production of vehicles. This lowered the production costs to an extent that cars turned from an expensive quirk for the elites to an accessible asset for everyone. 

He also used to make counterintuitive yet brilliant business moves. For instance, he lowered the prices for his cars by half so that his own employees could afford them—which skyrocketed the sales and eventually led to the birth of an imperium. Ford was known for his practicality in thinking about business and transportation. For instance, he used to say, “You can have any color, as long as it’s black”—he didn’t see the point in painting his cars and making them pretty.

Thomas Edison

An American inventor and entrepreneur who contributed to multiple fields of industry including electric power generation, mass communication, sound recording, and motion picture industry. Famously, he developed an early version of the electric light bulb. He also collaborated with Henry Ford and together, they established… a botanic laboratory in Fort Myers, Florida. 

Archimedes

A Greek mathematician, physicist, astronomer, engineer, researcher, and inventor. One of the greatest specialists of ancient history acknowledged especially for his achievements in mathematics and science. Among others, he derived a mathematical approximation of pi and prove a range of fundamental geometrical theorems—despite differential and integral calculus not being known a time.

Gustave Eiffel

 A French engineer and designer, mostly known for designing and constructing the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and for his contribution to the Statue of Liberty in New York. He was also an apt bridge builder, building bridges all around France. In his old days, he retired from construction work and turned towards meteorology and aerodynamics where he also made significant contributions.

Margaret Hamilton

An American computer scientist, mathematician, researcher, engineer, and entrepreneur. She was the chairperson of the Software Engineering Division of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, a unit that developed on-board flight software for NASA’s Apollo program. She also created two software companies—Higher Order Software and Hamilton Technologies. She published over 130 research publications. Among others, her work contributed to Lorenz’s work on chaos theory, meteorology, and the development of computer science as a discipline. 

Alan Turing

An English computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, mathematician, philosopher, and theoretical biologist. Famously, he contributed to deciphering the Enigma machine during World War II, which, according to prof. Jack Copeland’s estimation, shortened the war by more than two years and saved more than 14 million lives all around Europe. He also developed an idea of the Turing machine, which was conceptual proof demonstrating that some of the mathematical yes-no questions can never be answered using computation.