Future-proofing your career (part 1 of 4): You, technology, and the four questions to ask yourself right now
Our ability to establish good relationships has always been key to professional success — and now there’s another we need to build. It may be the most challenging and rewarding relationship yet. It’s the one we have with technology.
According to a McKinsey Global Institute report, about half of the work currently done by humans will be automated by 2055. As a result, between 40 million and 160 million women globally may need to transition between occupations by 2030. This may sound daunting, but the report also suggests that those who make the transition are likely to find more productive, better-paid work at the end of it.
There’s another side to the story: 75% of future jobs will, according to Deloitte, lean more heavily on soft skills such as teamwork, critical thinking, persistence and adaptability. This means a workplace more inclusive of the emotional awareness that women are more naturally inclined to.
A new partnership
The World Economic Forum believes we’re not looking at whole professions being taken over by robots. Rather, certain aspects of our day-to-day responsibilities will be automated, and our roles will be redesigned to maximise talent and potential.
With its ‘Hands off the Wheel’ initiative, Amazon has shown how well this can work. For the last decade, its tech trailblazers have been pushing to automate office work — but not with the aim of reducing headcount. Instead, they’ve been reassigning employees to build new products. It’s a move that’s been hailed as helping the company thrive.
However, it would be a mistake to say that we don’t need to cultivate the way we think about and interact with technology. Now more than ever, being a lifelong learner will keep you buoyant in an ever-evolving professional landscape.
The rapid pace of technological evolution has resulted in the half-life of a skill dropping from 30 years to an average of just six, according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report. This means we need to constantly refresh our knowledge, upskill our teams and stay tuned to the technological evolution around us – and all its potential.
We’ll be supporting you on the everywoman website with a series of monthly articles designed to help you future proof your career in a way that’s aligned with your particular values, strengths and interests.
THE FOUR BIG QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF RIGHT NOW...
What’s your current relationship with tech?
Think about where you are now and where you’d like to be. You don’t have to retrain as a coder or try to compete with the graduates entering the job market with their shiny new degrees in database management, cybersecurity or web development — unless, of course, you want to. But those young people will need leadership, management, guidance and business mentoring. Their skills will need to be integrated into existing processes and systems. They may need to learn the soft skills that keep the wheels of business turning smoothly.
Think too about how much tech your current role requires. And, to quote Tabitha Goldstaub, Co-Founder of CognitionX: ‘If you’re worried that your job might become automated, look for ways you can work with technology rather than against it.’
Remember, tech is there to serve you. Ask yourself how it could make your working life easier, more efficient and more enjoyable. A large part of this is knowing and trusting your value within your organisation.
Anasuya Strasner, Group Vice President, North America Cloud: Customer Experience for Oracle, says: ‘I think it’s really important as you progress in your career, and as you evolve in terms of your experiences and what you know and understand, to take a moment and stop to remember who you are. Be authentic, be yourself, and own it.’
What’s your resilience to change?
‘We start our careers with high hopes and expectations, and we want to conquer the world. What happens too often is that eventually you get comfortable in a process or role or with a piece of technology we master,’ says Lior Arussy, one of the world's leading authorities on customer-centric business transformation, and author of Next is Now: 5 Steps for Embracing Change.
Although change is inevitable, it’s our ability to embrace it and remain flexible and open to possibilities that defines us. Arussy continues: ‘To know your stuff really means that you must keep learning as much about the industry as possible and accept change. What you currently know can only be bolstered by what you can learn, and your ability to sustain curiosity is highly relevant. Be a catalyst for change, always increase your knowledge and bring your team along for the ride.’
Do you have a growth mindset?
Business leaders who embrace a growth mindset encourage continuous learning, development and new ideas. They are advocates for innovation and enable teams to meet change with confidence. One of the most common reasons for fostering a growth mindset is to stay agile in the face of technological uncertainty. It’s this kind of thinking that took Microsoft from a ‘know it all’ to a ‘learn it all’ working environment.
Pamay Bassey, the Chief Learning Officer at Kraft Heinz, recommends the following: ‘First, seek out high impact learning experiences. Second, commit to a learning practice. And, the third, encourage others to do the same. If managers and leaders commit to those three things every day, then they can transform a learning culture.’
How can your network better support your growth?
Does your current network provide you with opportunities for learning? Does it include mentors and leaders in their fields to teach and inspire you?
You don’t have to cultivate this alone. Professional communities such as everywoman, which includes the everywoman in Technology LinkedIn Group, are designed to give you a forum for questions and debate. Our everywoman in Tech Forum runs annually — either live or online — providing support, inspiration, access to role models and a ready-made network of likeminded women.
And don’t forget podcasts such as TED Talks Technology, Reply All and The Atlantic’s Crazy Genius. Half an hour every day on the way into work or as you prepare breakfast is a great way to build your knowledge base.
Coming next month…
Tech knowledge will become increasingly important for business success – but it’s not the only skill to cultivate. From influencing to motivating, we’ll be exploring how best to leverage your soft skills to support your career development as the world becomes increasingly digital.