Learning to Reinvent for Tomorrow

Moderator: Nitin Seth, Chief Executive Officer, Incedo.

Panelists: Pallavi Tyagi, CHRO – India, Capgemini; Peter Kokkinos, MD Asia-Pacific, Udemy; Romi Malhotra, Managing Director, DXC Technology.


Key Takeaways:


  • There was a show of hands in the room. When asked, if they considered learning to be important, all went up – 100%. When prodded further – those who faced learning-related challenges, only about 30% of the participants admitted. The need for learning is so powerful that it has to be topmost on the CEO’s agenda and not merely driven by the L&D function. This is not to insinuate that the L&D isn’t doing a good enough job. A major cultural shift has to be driven from the top.


  • We require a problem-solving approach to business, to dominate in the 20s. Learning to reinvent for tomorrow is a multi-headed challenge of building new skills in AI, Cloud, Data Science, IoT among others. At the same time, we must also bear in mind that legacy platforms aren’t going away too soon. If anything, even today, they fetch more than 60% of the revenue. So, what happens to legacy skills and how do they exist alongside digital?


  • Engaging with millennials – a whole new paradigm that is yet emerging.


  • How do you develop a culture of learning in the organization? Moreover, we must resist the temptation of broad brushing a Learning culture. Towards this, we need to create both push and pull factors. These nuances are very important. Specific learning journeys will have to be created based on needs – where they are presently vis-à-vis, where they want to go. It may be worthwhile to chalk out a 12-18 month intervention and specifically lay down actionable items (for individuals) how to get there.


  • In the old economy, changing jobs was not as frequent and many people stuck to one company throughout their careers. Things have changed radically today. While on the idea of culture, this angle also needs looking into. The IT industry has already achieved a high degree of maturity and can’t be classified as “new” any longer. Arguably, it may as well qualify as a part of the old economy.


  • In the past, people could thrive in a career of 40-odd years by gaining mastery over one skill. Today and in the future, every 10 years or thereabouts, a new set of skills would need to be added to stay relevant. A 40-year career may be broken into 4 parts (or more) where a massive change (360 degrees) may be required every decade.


  • Reskilling is a challenge for societies as well. Unless we can address it meaningfully, the digital divide will never get bridged. The magnitude of this challenge is far bigger than what organizations face. Today, not touching a million lives will impact businesses too when you consider the bigger picture. For one, it weakens the talent pipeline. It may be an idea to think through to have a lot more in-house Digital Academies.


  • Numbers such as 133 million new jobs are bandied about frequently. The qualifier is “new”. Are we doing enough to prepare for the future? Worldwide, 60 – 70% of the CEOs are deeply concerned about their level of preparedness. It isn’t that companies aren’t investing in reskilling but the momentum required is much greater if we are to keep pace with technology.


  • The learning has to translate into “doing” as well. Skilling programs, beyond the theoretical construct, has to look at the applicability angle as well – perhaps much more deeply.


  • Organizations will have to identify the people who need training and in specific areas too. A generic approach is not going to work. Secondly, the delivery mechanism gives us multiple options – MOOCs, microlearning, etc. Perhaps a mix-and-match approach may be a good idea. For instance, some concepts may require deeper intervention and microlearning may not be suitable. That’s why it’s very important to define clearly and in a well-defined manner what is it that’s being sought after? A one-size-fits-all approach often leads to disastrous results. To add, content curation should be taken up with all seriousness. Also, content curation IS NOT content creation.


  • Particularly for mid-level managers, soft skill development is as important as hard skills. From an Indian context, greater focus is required to create the next level of leaders. Traditionally, we’ve been found wanting in this area.


  • The idea of learning can be likened to eating in a restaurant. It’s an experience, or it should be. Towards this, companies need to understand the “HOW TO” aspect of it. How do we create a more pleasurable learning experience that pulls in more learners? This stems from the idea of democratizing learning and that learners will be from different age groups. Millennials are apt to look at it from a different lens than Gen X, for example. They would be more inclined to adopt purpose-driven content


  • The day job isn’t going away so how do you create a training calendar that can strike a balance. The efforts have to be sustainable too. Also, there has to be a way to ensure that the new skills picked up are used as well. Progress is made only when there are tangible results. The need for learning has to come from within. The organization can put checks and balances in place and communicate to the employees about where they stand in terms of relevance.


  • It’s important to set expectations early. Many times it has been observed that freshers come in with exalted expectations, such as bringing about the transformative change immediately after joining. This isn’t very practical thinking and more of an idealistic one.


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