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Skills for the future

7 November 2016

Adapting to the changes in a rapidly evolving world is crucial in staying relevant in the modern workplace. To maintain one’s competitive edge, individuals need to acquire skill sets to cope with the evolving economy.

To provide students and graduates insights into the skills of the future, the Monash Malaysia Business Alumni Chapter kicked off the inaugural Alumni Speaker Series, with Talent Needs of Tomorrow: Insights Into the Malaysian Market on 5 November 2016.

The discussion featured five panelists - Leonard Ariff, Tian-Pouw Pun, Devendran Sinnadurai, Cheryl Teh and Dr Jane Tong. They explored three themes: Career Switches; Economy Outlook and Skills in Demand (11th Malaysia Plan); and Key Skills Required in the Workplace by 2020.

While reasons such as dissatisfaction at work or burnout may prompt an individual to consider a career change, Pun, who is a Principal at Korn Ferry and has over a decade of experience in HR, explained that candidates should ask themselves five questions to help them decide if they are ready for a career  switch.

“The first question you should ask yourself is why do you want a career switch in the first place? And don’t lie to yourself,” he said.

Other questions to brood over include identifying the sacrifices needed to do well in the new role, how much changes the individual can bring to the organisation and to the role, whether they can do a better job or perform as well as the current or last person who held the role and whether they have  the  ability  or  do  the job.

Ariff, the Group Managing Director of Chemical Company of Malaysia Berhad, opined that networking is an important skill that he looks for when hiring C-level leaders in an organisation.

“This is not about who you know as opposed to what you know. Ultimately, every individual creates their own brand. Your brand becomes more powerful and dependent on what you bring to the table, and the incredible portfolio of networking that you have,” he said.

In speaking about important attributes for graduates to possess, Ariff said that the ability to be “adaptable and curious irrespective of what happens in the future” will help candidates stand out from normal performers.

On communication, Teh, Chairman, The Philharmonic Society of Selangor, highlighted her concern about the lack of interpersonal skills among youths, adding that many are becoming progressively isolated as most of their conversations are taking place through WhatsApp. She added that while  they  may  have  long  conversations on the messaging app, many are unable to do so face-to-face and thus have difficulty networking.

Deputy Head of the School of Business Professor Pervaiz Ahmed explained that it is important for graduates to adapt to the fast changing business environment of today, in order to become successful leaders in the future.

“It’s a very important aspect for you to be able to move with the times and try to keep abreast of the changes that are happening,” he said.

“It’s important for us to look at the Malaysian economy and see how it is evolving, including technological changes and social changes. This is so that we can better  understand and make those changes and build the necessary skills and competencies.”

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