Do we need pragmatic polymaths to boost the qualitative research industry?

Vivek Banerji
McKinsey and Company, United Kingdom

... there is no reason to expect that the growth of knowledge or its applications through technology will slow down during the next few generations. How, then can we expect our future leaders to stay abreast of the progress of humanity unless we teach them to be lifelong learners?” Root-Bernstein, Tools of Thought: Designing an Integrated Curriculum for Life Long Learners


Polymath, derived from Greek, means “to know much”, and the word typically conjures up images of Renaissance men like Leonardo Da Vinci. The success of polymaths in the sciences and the arts is well documented. Root-Bernstein, in the article referenced above, has enumerated many examples of successful polymaths. For instance, scientist Louis Pasteur was an excellent artist, novelist Vladimir Nabakov was a biologist, composer Stephen Sondheim had a fascination for mathematics. In more recent times, Russell Simmons, the founder of Def-Jam, began with creating music and producing films, and has now brought the influence of hip hop culture to every facet of business and media life.