Upskilling – do it or perish

The day we enter corporate world, we assume that the days of learning are over and implementing the learnings are here. But the reality is far from true.

It’s actually the other way around. The day you enter corporate world, the time is ripe for you to unlearn a lot of theoretical concepts and learn the practical or cutting edge concepts that are implemented in day to day running of the great corporate show.

The first few years of corporate life is full of learning experiences, be it concepts, team work, importance of adhering to timelines, professional etiquettes and above all interpersonal skills. The learning curve is as steep as a ladder and gives you the high of accumulating and mastering concepts, learnings and money thick and fast.

What happens to the learning curve after the initial few years – is anybody’s guess. It flattens out, right?

Actually not. The learning curve still continues to be quite steep, only that the nature of learning has shifted from technical to people skill slightly.

The notion that the learning curve flattens out after the initial few years, used to be true probably a decade or two back, when most of the mid to senior tenured professionals would focus on consolidating their learning and implementing it for the benefit of the organization by repetitive reproduction of the success mantra.

However, with the new normal order of corporate working under the influence of technological disruptions, automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning, the concept of learning shifting from technical to people skills goes for a toss.

Does that mean, we do not need people managers under the new normal?

Well, the answer is that no. We certainly do need people managers but not in the same capacity. The need to manage large teams is slowly but surely fading away with automation taking away tedious, repetitive and process driven work and hence the requirement of large team size goes for a toss.

Under the new normal, the learning curve trend has turned into a constant with technical topics taking the most sizeable chunk. Only difference between tenures is that the entrants or early tenured would be focused on learning technical concepts that have been tamed, so to say, while the mid to senior tenured would focus on the concepts which are untamed or still not in the market but can come and disrupt the working protocols. For this, all corporate professionals have to be keen students of the markets, technology and even the researched technologies to keep abreast of the curve.

UPSKILLING is thus the new trend in corporates and if you upskill and adapt, then your chances of surviving and even thriving are pretty high. Else you just perish.

Sad, but brutal honest truth, which has to be spoken as is.

This is a paradigm shift, which is becoming increasingly uncomfortable for many mid to senior tenured professionals as they were being brought up with the thought process of learning being limited to few initial years and then they just replicate it to benefit the company and in turn themselves by earning hefty salaries. But, they are increasingly being asked to upskill themselves either in terms of technology advancements, or understanding the technical concepts in much greater details than was required probably a couple of decades back. It’s driven by the changing business environment and the value addition of each member of corporates being the subject matter expertise that they bring to the table, irrespective of the tenure or title.

So, the new normal corporate life has made Upskilling a necessity, one cannot survive without.

But it’s challenging, to say the least. The change has been so abrupt and has come down with such a brute force, that many of us are actually not equipped with the aptitude to continue the learning spree. We have been caught off-guard and now feel exposed, vulnerable, nervous and at times, even scared. If you are also standing at the cusp of your career as I am, then you can totally feel what I am feeling now. For others, the feeling is similar to what you would feel on your graduation day – a feeling of having achieved so much, with so much effort but what lies ahead is a path of uncertainty.

The solace in this uncertain time comes from rather unexpected corner, technology – the one which made such disruptions in business world that upskilling became a necessity.

Yes, with all the disruptions came a trend of online learning, ie learning by registering online to courses or topics of interest, necessary to survive the competitive corporate world. This has made upskilling easier by gaining knowledge super convenient, easy, seamless and even flexible.

Upskilling also has a more broad based impact on our society, which would be creating more non-hierarchical system, where every voice, irrespective of age, sex, tenure, or ethnicity would be treated equally and on merit or on the value that they bring to the table.

So, let’s do it now…

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