5 changes in our careers post Covid

January 15th, 2021     |     Posted by Kaustav Majumdar

The world was changing ever so slowly till the Internet came into our lives and then the wheels started moving faster. The pace increased through the 90s and early part of this millennium but the last decade has been frenetic. Technology changed, evolved and the world that is continuously living longer,has got younger and busier.

Then came 2020.The world stopped changing incrementally. It just… changed… unprecedented, unimagined… a paradigm shift.

For starters, let us explore a few questions & possibilities regarding change

  1. Education: Degrees are sacrosanct and for centuries, were the only proof of knowledge. If you do not have a degree, you must at least have a diploma and if you are bereft of even that, you must not settle for anything below certificates. And then we built businesses and empires on this. Corporations questioned this for decades but stayed firm with this since the ‘haloed papers’ were validations of your knowledge and reduced the burden of verification on their part. What if corporations start saying that we do not need you to have degrees to come and work for us – what will happen to Higher Education? As the revered Late Sir Ken Robinson had been telling us – ‘Everything changed around us but education did not’. What will happen to Education in general… even Secondary and Primary Education? Too far-fetched? Ask Tesla… Will the relevance of Education as we know it today reduce in the coming years?
  2. Jobs & Career: Gallup said 30% of adult America is self-employed and when you look at folks running something on the side, this real figures tomorrow may well be as high as 40%. Half of India’s 0.5 Billion workers are already self-employed. What is amazing is all of these are pre 2020 statistics. All these have now accelerated in the Covid year. If legacy companies merge, break up, die – what will tomorrow’s youth of India do? Would they still chase the security of a 9-5 (and preferably in a Government establishment)? But what is secure? What is 9-5? And what would tomorrow’s Government do that will employ so many and provide security to so many? What if more of India’s tomorrow decide that they will etch, decide and pursue their own destiny and not chase a pre-defined path.
  3. Pedigree: Pedigree seemed crucial to us in everything. If you will sell soap for a FMCG major, medicines for a pharma behemoth or paint for a national major who believes ‘every house says something’ – your engineering degree from a Grade A institution and your MBA from a major B-school made you first amongst equals – you cannot sell unless you have this pedigree. Really? Well – that seemed to be true for everything and in every walk of life. This skewed our education and early-work structures & systems for decades, maybe centuries. Does pedigree really matter so much? What does it mean anyway? Doesn’t the sheer concept of pedigree and being biased towards it deepen the invisible but ever-present divides in our society? Hasn’t Covid-living taught us that none of these really matter?
  4. Geography: For long, geography played a disproportionate role in business – Bangalore & Hyderabad is the place for IT professionals, Mumbai is where the bankers are, Delhi is where you need to be to secure Government contracts… and Kolkata is where you come when your soul yearns more for the creative sides than watching your bank balance grow. Or. The Silicon Valley is where the investment action is and Boston is where the Fintech guys come from or London is where you need to be if you wish to build an Ed Tech startup… Will this matter so much in the post Covid world? Have we not successfully shrunk the world in the last 9 months when our travels were to your favourite corner in your house and you could thereafter teleport wherever you needed to be. The world did not come to a grinding halt because we could not travel. We improvised. Geography matters but people matter more. How will this impact our decision making going forward?
  5. Time:Time was (and remain) the biggest factor impacting our lives in every sense possible. The aim was always to ‘settle down’ and time seemed to slip through your fingers. You finished your studies by mid-twenties, you slogged till mid-thirties to buy your car (in between, you might have squeezed in a 2-wheeler and a spouse) and by the mid-forties, you were hopefully looking at having a property of your own (again school and education for the next cycle of generation would have started by now). You kept doing this and retired just when you seemed to ‘settle down’, stuttered and stumbled through EMIs and goal posts, managing jobs, bosses, aspirations and realities. But this was all in the age of pre-prescribed journeys, decided by your parents, teachers, Governments and corporations – what if all of this changes? What if you do not aspire to buy a car or a house? What if you did not have to pay for expensive colleges and instead paid for life-long education through SaaS like having your own email? What if the definition of time and its deployment was different for you, me, us? Can this change in the post Covid world?

The last 9 months were crucial for all of us. If this did not make us think… what will?

The gig economy is here… and here to stay, grow and become bigger than what we could imagine in the last millennium. As we see the largest valued automobile company that delivers only 0.5 million cars while 9 more of its competitions delivered many multiples of that number could not match up to valuations of the leader-from-nowhere, collectively – we knew that the world has changed.We saw how the largest fleet of cars belonged to a company that did not own a single one and the same jaw-dropping numbers were seen in the hospitality sector where own inga property did not matter. We know what GAFAM big tech companies mean to us – imagine life without them for a day. We know how new companies are being built as new frontiers are scaled, every day in some part of the world. India was late to begin but is catching up and the sheer size of our consumption will fuel a growth, our academia, Governments, corporations and the population at large cannot even imagine. And all this will be fuelled by the youth of our country.

But how?

This is a conversation that will not end in a few lines, paragraphs or pages. This is something that will be ‘work-in-progress’ for a while. But this is something that needs to start. Now.

The last 10 years had already changed everything, including science. The year of Covid ensured that the pace of change and adoption is not gradual. Like Covid, change is in-our-faces – we adapt and adopt, on-the-fly.

What will change in your life in the coming years, in the post Covid world?

The author is Chief Executive at ILS Network, Advisor at Data Science Foundation, India & UK and Mentor with IIM Calcutta Innovation Park.