Skills as ‘currency’ in the modern-day career portfolio
Being part of a global company, this MD’s role focuses on people development, leadership, performance and culture. Indeed, Eric Goh, Vice President & Managing Director, Singapore, Dell Technologies, spends a good amount of his time on career conversations with his team members to build an environment that inspires the right attitude, and creates a culture of honesty, excellence and integrity in the workplace.
“At Dell Technologies, we encourage team members to think about skills as ‘currency’ in the modern-day career portfolio. This means they need to evolve from a lattice mindset that sees career as role-focused to a skill-based mindset,” he says.
Interview excerpts below:
Q To tackle the changes happening in the world of work, what major campaigns is your organisation undertaking?
To help us develop and retain an empowered workforce, we focus many of our programmes on team member and community empowerment. As a company, we work across teams to pilot opportunity marketplaces for team members to deepen or gain new skills through their work on short-term “projects”. This new way of working will continue to shape how we think about career growth and focus more on matching work requirements to individual skill needs and interests.
One of the best examples of how we are empowering our diverse team members is our network of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).
At Dell Technologies, our 13 ERGs are devoted to different focus areas, with 380 chapters and members in over 60 countries, and they measurably increase employee satisfaction by allowing team members to lead, connect and grow.
They are a driving force for diversity and inclusion, uniting our team members around gender, ethnicity, identity and various backgrounds. As of July 2019, 30% of the team members belonged to an ERG.
We also have in place individual development plans, which combine both technical and behavioural training, job-based assignments and self-development.
Mentoring programmes such as MentorConnect, which was launched in Singapore last year, are also offered to ensure that team members with the potential to take on higher and more complex roles get a chance to further hone their technical skills and leadership skills by mentoring others.
We also ensure team members have access to a variety of learning methods. Training does not have to be expensive or tremendously time-consuming, but it should be thoughtful and based on individual and business needs. A continuous learning approach can include a variety of training approaches such as on-demand learning and training that we make available in our Learning Studio.
Q In your sector, what are the top five skills that are most in demand, and how are you developing these capabilities?
Our Future of Work research reveals that 54% of organisations globally (APJC: 60%; Singapore: 62%) have forecasted that the next generation of workers will disrupt their workforce with their ingrained digital skills and mindset. Today, almost half (global: 46%; APJC: 51%; Singapore: 44%) are developing their in-house digital skills and talent by teaching all employees how to code, for instance.
Tech literacy will continue to be one of the most in-demand skills in the tech sector. Fluency in artificial intelligence (AI) will complement and augment human capabilities rather than replace them, and AI fluent workers will use their skills to manage workflows, accomplish tasks and make sense of all the data we collect.
As robotics and artificial intelligence take over more predictable tasks, team members working alongside these technologies will need to take charge when unforeseen problems arise. In the same vein, team members will be expected to use AI tools to innovate and reform company products and procedures.
Hard skills aside, I believe that companies in any sector today will also be looking for adaptability, a growth mindset, collaboration, emotional intelligence and creative thinking skills. For instance, our account teams work closely with customers to support their technology priorities and are trusted by our customers to deliver to their needs fully, propose the right solutions, implement and scale the solution, and eventually create new business models.
Sometimes, briefs might change, or new challenges might emerge. The entrepreneurial skills of creativity, agility, and resourcefulness will be more valuable than ever. The ability to quickly adapt, resolve and collaborate to bring in the right subject matter experts, and creatively work around these challenges to present comprehensive solutions are crucial to enabling our customers to meet their business objectives.
Q On the other hand, what would you say are previously much-talked-about skills that are on their way out from the list?
Technology advancements have driven rapid changes and having the most popular skill alone is not enough. We’ve seen how a technology popular some years ago have become obsolete now. It is therefore important for everyone to think of their career as a portfolio of skills. What this also means is to evaluate the skills you require to succeed at your work. Besides task-oriented skills which are essential for you to perform in your role, people-oriented skills are equally important.
Arming yourself with an arsenal of skills is important to thrive in today’s fast changing world.
Q It would be too simplistic to believe that digitalisation is the only game changer when it comes to skills. What are some of the other key factors to take into consideration, going forward?
Undoubtedly, digital advancements have shaken up the skills needed in today’s age. More importantly,it has increased the pace of change. This pace of change is contributing to a faster evolution of needs than traditional models can keep up. What this means is that a more agile skill-based development model to enable talent to up-skill and re-skill to prepare and adapt is necessary.
We are also seeing a multi-generational workforce emerge and each generation brings with them a unique approach. For example, the latest addition to the workforce, the Generation Z, are known for their technology-first approach. GenZ-ers have grown up with technology all around and have an inherent understanding of it. Organisations need to identify these strengths, develop a strategy that factors in these soft skills, and offer opportunities for individuals to hone their skills in areas where they can add most value.
This interview first appeared as part of a feature in the May-June 2020 e-mag of Human Resources, Singapore, and the Q2 2020 edition of Human Resources, Malaysia. Read the case study in the e-mag, or the full feature here.
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