From the Future of Work to upskilling: Key highlights from BML Munjal University’s Leadership Summit 2020

Industry experts, CXOs and CHROs provided key insights on the unprecedented changes happening in the work landscape, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has propelled this evolution, at ‘The Leadership Summit 2020’ presented by BML Munjal University.

The exponential development and adoption of technology has redefined the Future of Work and the workplace as we know it. This phenomenon, widely considered to be Industrial Revolution 4.0, has brought with it a new set of opportunities, challenges and uncertainty around the nature of work

To reflect on and better understand India’s ever-evolving work landscape, BML Munjal University presented ‘The Leadership Summit 2020’ on August 21 and 22, 2020.

Industry experts, CXOs and CHROs provided key insights on the revolutionary changes in the work landscape, how the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has propelled this transformation, and how businesses should adapt by recalibrating strategies to move forward. Here are some of the key highlights from the two-day summit.

The importance of leadership to capitalise on new opportunities

The opening keynote address ‘Forging Ahead of Workplace Disruptions’ was delivered by Sunil Kant Munjal, Chancellor, BML Munjal University and Chairman, Hero Enterprises, where he emphasised the critical role leaders play in these times.

“Anytime there has been a crisis, we look at leaders to lead away from uncertainty,” he said, adding that the need of the hour was to improve the effectiveness of our healthcare and skilling systems, among others, to adapt to changes.

“How we respond to change is what makes the big difference. There is a need for leaders to demonstrate this with their feet on the ground. Thinking ahead, and planning for the uncertain future, empathy for people, remaining balanced, but continuing to move forward, that is true leadership.”

This was followed by a keynote address by Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog. He said that although the world is witnessing an unprecedented global crisis, there are many opportunities to avail as well.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest of all crises, and organisations need to take decisive steps today to identify growth opportunities of tomorrow,” he said, giving the example how India became an exporter of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), after mobilising 500 companies, and how the government rolled out new guidelines for telemedicine, and changed the definition of MSMEs to power their growth.

Kant mentioned that India is one of the largest markets in the world in the digital sphere, and that technology and digitisation will play a key role in our growth, and with job creation.

He also urged the students of BML Munjal University to become great business leaders, adding that optimism, courage, strong communication skills, and goal-setting were some of the essential skills to that end.

Resilience and agility key to managing work during the Pandemic

The first panel, “Managing work during the Pandemic” was moderated by Chetan Sharma, Television Anchor, Consultant and Columnist, Edumate.TV. The panellists were Anil Bhasin, President, Havells; Meena Ganesh, CEO & MD, Portea Medical; Alok Madhukar, MD, Goldman Sachs; Amit Gossain, MD, KONE Elevators and Guruprasad Mudlapur, MD, Bosch Automotive Electronics.

The panelists observed that organisations have greater access to a larger and better talent pool due the virtual nature of work now. They also mentioned that the current scenario has brought out resiliency and higher productivity levels in employees, and stressed the importance of empathy and constant communication in these uncertain times. Some of the measures to help employees cope included providing counselling, reviewing their insurance, and enabling remote working with the right tools.

The second panel, “Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship” was moderated by Dr. Neha Chatwani, Founder, The Workplace Atelier, and featured Nitin Kamath, Founder and CEO, Zerodha; Vipul Sabharwal, MD, Luminous, Mayank Jain, CEO Hindi Cluster, Network 18; Ajey Mehta, Global VP, HMD Global; and Greg Moran, co-founder and CEO, Zoomcar.

The panel noted that in the current dynamic, there would be a growing dependency on Data Analytics, continuous learning, resiliency and agility from employees. It stressed on the importance of innovation for organisations to thrive in the future, and suggested ways of fostering a culture of innovation including inviting more solutions from employees, forming cross functional teams, and intentionally cultivating an observational and experimentational mindset.

Towards a new order of work

The second day featured a keynote address by Akshay Munjal, President, BML Munjal University, where he observed that learning in the future will take place in a blended format of online and live lectures.

“Each student will have an individual learning path, and will engage in one-on-one engagement with the faculty,” he said, adding that it will significantly improve the learning experience.

He also mentioned that going forward, it would be important to learn how to deal with increasing levels of uncertainty across many fronts, including the workplace, and that adapting to them was going to become a vital skill set.

This was followed by a keynote address by Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO, YourStory, where she gave her insights on the opportunities the future will bring.

“A significant part of all businesses will operate digitally,” she said, adding that going digital will present the maximum number of opportunities. Shradha also mentioned that going forward, one of the key roles in organisations, given the impetus to make and consume in India as provided by the Atmanirbhar Bharat narrative, is going to be product management to ensure scalability and robustness of businesses. She also suggested that this was a good time to start up.

The third panel “Industry 4.0: How smart is your workplace? was moderated by Prof (Dr.) Vishal Talwar, Dean-School of Management, BML Munjal University, and featured Suraj Chetri, Director HR, Airbus; Unmesh Pawar, Partner and Head - People, Performance and Culture, KPMG; Madhu Srivastava, Group CHRO, Vedanta; Vijay Sethi, CIO, CHRO and Head CSR, Hero Motocorp; and Sanjoy Shaw, CHRO and HR Director - South Asia, Givaudan.

The panel discussed how the pandemic has exponentially accelerated the pace of technology adoption, particularly the use of analytics, and is enabling a new level of productivity at the workplace without human intervention. However, technology itself is only an enabler. The smart workplace will rely on leaders who are aware of the needs of their customers and ensure that technology serves them. They also noted that such developments will lead to job losses in some sectors, but will create a large number of jobs in new areas.

The final panel, “Upskilling: Future-proof yourself from uncertainty” was moderated by Dr. Tom Verghese, Principal and Consultant, Cultural Synergies, and featured Sandeep Kohli, Partner, Talent Leader, EY; Tojo Jose, CHRO, Muthoot Fincorp Limited; Biswajit Roy, Director, HR and BD, Oil India; Mussarat Hussain, Head Leadership and Functional School, Maruti Suzuki Training Academy; and Murali Padmanabhan, Chief Learning Officer, Virtusa Polaris.

The panel stressed on the need to take responsibility for one’s own skilling by periodically availing courses or by taking up opportunities provided by company-level training and skilling centres. It identified the ability to deal with ambiguity, mindfulness, adaptability, among others as key traits for a successful career. Finally, the panel also emphasised unlearning, and cultivating a broad set of technical and soft skills such as creativity, problem-solving, and high emotional intelligence as being crucial for future-proofing one’s self from uncertainty.


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