Every young person wanting to succeed in the short, medium and long term must develop a willingness to pivot and embrace areas of discomfort and succeed on the strength of intrinsic capabilities and self-confidence rather than educational qualifications
It’s always good to hear positive news and the recent investor conference of Motilal Oswal which had some of the top CEOs of the Indian industry doing crystal ball gazing sounded less alarmist about India’s future.
Good agriculture growth and a resilient rural economy have saved us the blushes after a precipitous 23.9% plunge in the first quarter’s GDP and the early reports from July and August are that demand even in cities is coming back faster than was originally envisaged. However, what cannot be denied is the calamitous loss of jobs in the formal salaried sector and with many industries and SMEs facing the spectre of closure or at least a two-quarter period of poor revenues, the job seekers of the day and indeed people who have lost their jobs may have to look deeper and wider to see where their future lies.
Speaking to a webinar of an audience of 600 plus students and hearing the concern in their voices earlier in September, Bomi Bhote the CEO of Ruby Hall Hospital and I had three pieces of advice to offer. Do not think that the situations created by Covid-19 are a new canvas to paint your future life’s picture on. If a software major is willing to employ people in small towns because of work from home becoming mainstream today, you may still prefer to be in a large center for career advancement. Similarly, if the production of N95 masks and PPE equipment looks like a great opportunity, don’t do it now because prices are falling and the market will soon be saturated. And finally, keep looking for new opportunities because both in entrepreneurship and employment, the people who succeed are those with a clear point of view, the ability to attract customers and the ability to get their ideas funded.
My favorite author Yuval Noah Harari in his path-breaking follow up book to Sapiens, titled Homo Deus has suggested that in future, every individual will have to develop learning agility to ensure that as technologies change, one is able to shed old skills and embark on learning new ones and this may have to be done every dozen years or so. A scary thought for some but for people like me, who started on a career in industrial engineering and manufacturing, then moved to an entrepreneurial startup and then to consulting, computer education, global software and in the last three years to investing, digital advisory and the social sector, this is the way I have always lived my life. And the PhD and Advanced Management qualifications I acquired at later stages of my career helped me mold my preparedness for new challenges at every stage.
Every young person wanting to succeed in the short, medium and long term must develop a willingness to pivot and embrace areas of discomfort and succeed on the strength of intrinsic capabilities and self-confidence rather than educational qualifications.
There are enormous opportunities to create skills and employment exchanges in small towns and rural India
It is in this context that our large social ventures, the Natarajan Education Society, Pune City Connect and Social Venture Partners India have impacted the thinking and the livelihood prospects of over a quarter-million youth in the last five years. The SVP annual summit Samvaad 2020, held at the end of September, brought forth those attributes of scaling in social ventures to philanthropists and NGOs. It is fortunate that this platform saw leaders of some of the most innovative success stories share their experiences and provide advice. Safeena Husain of Educate Girls, Zarina Screwvala of Swades and Anita Rajan of Tata Trusts are big success stories in their own right and when Samvaad brought them on a platform with Jamie McGregor of Aspen, Naina Batra of AVPN and Kunal Kumar, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Housing & Urban Development and Director of the Smart Skills Mission, new thinking emerged for the future of livelihoods.
As Anjali Raina, the Director of Harvard Business School’s India Research Center pointed out to me in a discussion on a breakout session which she led at Samvaad, new job opportunities are opening up galore even as Covid-19 plays out and the much-awaited flattening of the curve becomes evident in our country. Apart from technologies that enable social distancing, like new work from home solutions for service workers and innovative cyber-physical solutions for factories created through extensive automation and robotics on the shop floor in new manufacturing execution systems; there are enormous opportunities to create skills and employment exchanges in small towns and rural India. The opportunities would include design and deploy solutions through digital technology that will leverage the National Optic Fibre Network and enable the much awaited distribution of jobs in the country.
Every crisis that hits seems to be the biggest problem of the world when it is happening, but once it’s done, life rushes in to fill the vacuum that the ending of one concern leaves behind. Let us not wait for that vacuum and let life hit us with new realities when we are prepared. Each of us, prepared well for what will happen in our lives in 2021 and beyond will find ample opportunities to sustain and grow and prosper!