Event: WORK, REWORKED MISK Global Forum, 4th Edition
Date and Time: Wednesday 13 November 2019 (9:15 – 9:55am)
Panel Discussion: Dinosaur or Future-Fit? Careers in a Post-Job Era
Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu (CEO of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Nigeria) – Panelist
Riad Hamade (Middle East & North Africa Executive Editor, Bloomberg News UAE) – Moderator
Ezequiel Vedana da Rosa (UN Young Leader for SDGs; CEO & Founder, Piipee Brazil) – Panelist
HRH Aljoharah Al Saud (Partner at Henning Larsen, Saudi Arabia) – Panelist
Dr. Badr Al-Bader (CEO of the MISK Foundation, Saudi Arabia) – Panelist
Introduction to Panel:
The only constant and the one thing that the youth of yesterday and the youth of today have in common is that they have needed and will always need the kind of jobs that fulfil them, contribute to their wellbeing, as Prince EA was saying, and sustainability, and of course help contribute to a better economy.
Today, 65% of children starting school are expected to have a profession that hasn’t even been created yet. They need to be prepared, they need to hone their skillsets, enhance their creativity and develop their interpersonal abilities.
So, what are the trends of this new labour force? How will that impact the urban-rural divide? And how do we prepare the new generation to meet the demands of tomorrow?
Well, we are starting the conversation today at MISK, with experts from all around the world, so I invite you to connect with them, we have skill booths as well – the workforce, the workplace, the workflow – so feel free to roam around and connect, let’s keep the conversation going. Join me in welcoming t the stage, our first panel [names and titles above listed].
Riad Opens the Panel Discussion:
Thank you very much. Thank you for coming to this panel. We’ve already had some panels yesterday that talked about the changing job patterns that the world is undergoing at the moment. It is a major change. The talk is of artificial intelligence, automation taking jobs. The talk is also of new jobs coming up, jobs that don’t exist yet. So, the question is: how do we deal with that? how do young people prepare for that?
It is not the first time, history has seen many examples of jobs disappearing, new jobs being created. And this is a challenge especially for countries like Saudi Arabia, because these two things are coming together here; you have a youth bulge, a huge young population coming in just at a time when this historic juncture is happening of jobs changing.
[Introduces “wonderfully diverse panel”; people from all over the world, who are going to bring their views of what we can do to prepare yourself, especially as a young person].
Dr. Badr Al-Bader:
Q: Basically, the job pattern is changing. Does that mean that the traditional career – school, university, job, a career with 1 or 2 companies, retirement – is this career path dead? Is this something that people should not be looking for? And if so, what is the alternative then?
- Careers today are very different from careers that our father and their predecessors had, and careers for our children will be even more different. What is coming to happen is there’s a multitude of jobs and then you [can] go into different fields, then you retire.
- But what’s happening now it’s not only education, job or multiple jobs and retirement.
- (Paraphrase: People now move more flexibly between jobs and education).
- It requires a definite mindset and differences in the education system to suit the new work environment.
Q: Do you have a vision for how the education system needs to be transformed to prepare people for exactly that mindset?
- There is a constant need for upscaling the soft skills, so you reverse this traditional focus on technical skills. The soft skills were secondary, now with more people interactions, having to work with teams in and outside of the company, outsourced, work ethic, working in groups, presentation skills, speaking skills, emotional intelligence, all these soft skills are becoming much more important.
- To address those, some universities are starting to adapt them. But what we are doing in MISK is we have skilling programs that augment the skills that university graduates sometimes don’t have or need to boost them to succeed in their careers.
- This is something that I have seen happening, not only in Saudi Arabia but in other places in the world. I cannot overemphasize the importance of soft skills in this new world economy.
Q: Ifeyinwa, would you agree with that? Your Foundation, I believe that’s kind of at the core of what you are trying to do across 54 African countries.
- Absolutely. Soft skills I think is what will ensure that with this age of artificial intelligence and machine learning, that human beings still count.
- From the MISK Global Forum: “Soft skills are what ensure humans still count in this world of machine learning”
- So incidentally, on CNN yesterday, the world chess champion was giving an interview, and he said that computers have changed the world of chess completely. That the greatest chess masters cannot compete with the most basic computer program when it comes to chess playing. It is like comparing Usain Bolt with a Ferrari.
- And the reason is that AI is almost perfect, it makes no mistakes and human beings aren’t that. But the one thing that AI and computers cannot do is show compassion. The one thing they cannot do is to have a sense of purpose, is to care more about the impact of what they do on the environment & on other people than on reward/profit.
- And that is what is going to be critical in the workforce of the future. That entrepreneurs and professionals are value oriented. It’s about what impact am I having on my environment and on others.
- And that is what we do at the TEF. We have a $100million commitment to identify, train, mentor and fund 10,000 African entrepreneurs across all 54 African countries over 10 years. 5 years in, by the end of this year, we would have trained, mentored and funded just about 9,000.
- And why have we done almost 100% when we are only 50% in? It is because of the sheer need. Young people everywhere realize that the world they are living in is not the world that the educational system is preparing them for.
- The educational system is preparing people for a job seeking mentality. But the young of today need to have a job-creating mentality. Not just creating jobs for yourself but creating jobs for others, and so, entrepreneurship is key.
- And entrepreneurship is not just about starting a business, to be successful you have to have an entrepreneurial mindset, you have to have the entrepreneurial spirit. And that is what brings passion into what you do.
HRH Aljoharah Al Saud:
Q: I think, your highness, I wanted to ask – you work for a Danish company – you are an architect, maybe can you talk a bit about how you apply some of this entrepreneurial spirit in your job as an architect.
- I will take you back a step, I was one of the first to graduate in Architecture from a Saudi University, so coming into the market we were very few. And it was something that we needed to push and at the same time, legislation coming out allowing women to have the engineering licenses, and form that very few organizations at the time had women in their offices and I was lucky to know about Henning Larsen.
- Tried to be that person in her organization who could bring the understanding and contacts of where we are in the Saudi Culture. And from that I started building myself within the team. So, I saw an opportunity and grabbed it. Slowly that turned into becoming part of the business development team. I am an architect, but now I run the business development for Saudi.
- Statement by Riad: Your architecture skills are obviously important for the job, but business development brings those soft skills that Ifeyinwa [mentioned].
- Answer by HRH: Exactly. Communication, networking, being able to work with others, and as Dr. Badr mentioned, soft skills are extremely important in today’s jobs.
Q by Riad: You had setup your 1st company at 16. Which for me is amazing. And also, you did not allow failure, in a way, to deter you from continuing and persevering. But you also talked to me about the soft skills that you have, and how it is not just technology that you need to know. Talk to me about the importance of soft skills for your business and how you dealt with the failure of some of your projects, and what did you learn from it?
- In my point of view, failure is part of the process – you learn more when you fail.
- About the soft skills, I think the most important is the team management because the hardest thing is not machine management or technical learning but working with people. This is the hardest thing to manage when you are an entrepreneur.
- Being an entrepreneur is being comfortable in chaos and uncertainty.
- The most important thing is to make others happy, and to help other achieve their dreams.
Q by Riad: In terms of the courses that you do, or the support that you give, do you advise people on the soft skills side of things, or would you advise people to focus on what is known as STEM? How do you go about balancing the message on those two things?
- I think that the two are certainly not mutually exclusive. For success, you need both. And the keyword is training, training, training. We firmly believe in lifelong learning; the minute you stop learning, you start dying.
- And that is what we teach our entrepreneurs: that at every stage of your life, at every stage of your business development whether you are a start-up, testing stage, market entry or growth, you must continuously improve yourself and learn.
- And so, the program that we offer cut across everything from how to start your business, the soft skills you need: emotional intelligence, communication, collaboration, and we have a strong emphasis on leveraging technology because we all know that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is underway and Africa certainly cannot afford to miss it, but neither cs the rest of the world.
- I mean we see now that at the end of the day, the top 3 biggest companies as far as market cap are 3 tech companies: Apple, Microsoft and Amazon. And so, it is clear that technology is the way.
- Every industry that has been disrupted was disrupted because of tech. So, you have giants like Kodak that literally no longer exist. In fact, my 8-year old son asked me, “how come you have pictures of Ralo my other son who is 16 and no printed pictures of him.” And how do I explain to him that you simply don’t need to print pictures anymore? But that simple thing that Kodak missed is what led them to extinction.
- Similarly, Blockbusters, in those days – you want to watch a movie, you walk down the road to your neighborhood blockbusters, pick up a move. Now you have through Netflix, thousands of movies at your fingertips.
- So, entrepreneurs need to remember the word disruption because if you are not disrupting, you are being disrupted, and with technology, you can innovate and ensure that you are creating a solution that either does not exist, or a solution in a faster, simpler, more convenient way, and that is basically what disruption is all about: meeting the needs within your environment in order to create value for the environment and the people around you.
- Q by Riad: Entrepreneurship is a great word that everybody can agree that it’s a great thing to have. I mean by son is studying Entrepreneurship apparently, and there wasn’t even a course when I was at college. But it may not be for everyone. What do you say to people who don’t feel that they have it within them to have that risk-taking attitude to go out and capture the opportunities, for example, HRH mentioned?
- Key Quotes/Answers: I think I mentioned it earlier, that entrepreneurship is not about starting a business. It is a mindset to do whatever task you have to do in the best possible, most efficient and productive way. And when you do that you bring value, whether you are in the workplace, at home – you bring value. So, having an entrepreneurial spirit is critical if you are going to survive in the workforce of the future. I think everyone should aspire to have entrepreneurial values in everything they do.
- Q: Is Saudi already making those changes to the system to give students a broader education? A: Addressing the young people who are here, take charge of your own careers; don’t wait for the educational system to change. You know that to succeed in this world, you need soft skills – so you need to go and find them and equip yourself.
- Q: Can soft skills be taught? A: My personal belief is that you can have some leadership traits in you that make it easier for you to become a leader. If you don’t have this, you can still learn them.
- Emotional intelligence is how you connect with the people around you.
Ezequiel on Entrepreneurship:
- We need to learn quickly: we need to be self-taught if you want to be an entrepreneur. You need to believe in yourself and your dream. You need to move quickly, because the world is changing quickly. Being an entrepreneur is going from idea to action – does not matter if you are self-employed or working for someone else, the point is to do. Everyone can do something to change something.
- If you want to disrupt, you need to make money.
Question and Answer with Audience:
Q: What is the strongest factor that makes us humans, different to AI?
A by Ifeyinwa: The one thing that stands out and answers your Q, is an ancient wisdom that came out of ancient Greeks, and it says know thyself. I think that is the one thing that stands out from machines, is that every human being has an innate talent and innate qualities that are unique to them. And if we can know ourselves to the extent that we tap into that innate talent and unique quality that makes us who we are individually, that is when you will see outstanding achievements. The entrepreneurial journey is about knowing yourself, exploring your passion and that which you can do endlessly, for no pay; without getting tired, you’re happy to do it. That is what entrepreneurship is about. And if you are able to key into and find that, you will find that which makes you different from a machine.
Riad’s Big Takeaway: Work hard, look for the opportunities, teach yourself and like HRH said, the opportunities will come.