Interview With Partha Basu, author of "Outskill : Future Proofing Your Career in the Post-Pandemic World"Outskilling makes you ready for a new role, be in within the organization or outside it.
on Feb 06, 2023
Partha Basu is a senior industry leader who has worked in seven industries, both in Fortune 500 organizations like Coca-Cola, Whirlpool, AkzoNobel and Tata Group as well in new initiatives like IFB-Bosch and SpiceJet.
Partha has earlier authored five books—Lifescapes: The Long and Short of It (2021), Mid-Career Crisis (2015), Make It or Break It (2012), With or Without You (2010) and Why Not! (2008).
He has delivered lectures in India and abroad, and his articles have been published widely. At present, he is based out of Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Frontlist: How did the idea for writing a guidebook for people that will help them stay flexible and future-ready for new career challenges come about?
Partha: Over last many years, I was noticing change everywhere…be it due to advances in technology, evolving socio-economic scenarios, shifts in demographics, the birth of new sectors or slowdowns in economies. Organizations that did not even exist fifteen years ago are now giant corporations, while on the other hand, long-established brands and organizations have taken a beating. Physical boundaries are disappearing at a faster pace with the advent of technology.
And then , in June 2019 , I was at a aero-gliding club in Netherlands , and I saw a quote from Wilbert Wright “It is possible to fly without motors, but not without knowledge and skill.’
That set me thinking further and I asked myself
1. Do I have the skills required in this changing world?
2. Will me or my team will survive unless we re-skill ourselves ?
4. How do I help prepare the next generation for a workplace that we haven’t even begun to imagine?
And the thought of OUTSKILL crystalised.
Frontlist: How did you acquire leadership abilities early in your career highlighted in your book?
Partha: I believe professionals acquire leadership skills over time as they walk through life . We might know certain parts of it and learn leadership skills as we complete our education , but the real learning comes from life as we go through the grind.
I am no different , I acquired them over time and still acquiring every day.
Frontlist: Could you please share insights on the job market following the post-pandemic?
Partha: The past hundred years have seen a complete transformation in how humans produce goods and services. We survived, we grew and we excelled .
The modern workplace is definitely different from what it was even ten years ago. Certain jobs and functions have appeared and disappeared over time. Some sustained. With the rise of automation in all its forms, jobs that are repetitive are believed to be on the verge of extinction.
People often are worried about technology, thinking it will replace humans.
While automation, new ways of working may take away many jobs but it is also expected to create new roles that do not exist today. We need to be future ready and skill ourselves to suite the future workplace without panicking. Remaining ignorant, or procrastinating won’t help ….it is all about being prepared to be future-ready.
Frontlist: How much do you believe your book "Outskill" will aid people in their future endeavors?
Partha: Many of us often hear about the need to unlearn and acquire new knowledge through which we can ensure that our skills are refreshed to fit our changing job requirements. We all go through various trainings; some of us venture into self-learning which entails acquiring new skills. Outskilling is about going beyond regular processes of learning and development, and further widening our horizons. It is about understanding the future need for skills—what your current or future employers might need in the future. Outskilling makes you ready for a new role, be in within the organization or outside it. You embrace the skills that are needed to remain relevant in this rapidly changing world, narrowing the skill gap so you can fit into a variety of organizations. Many organizations today are actively investing in their employees to make them ready for the next challenge. They want to ensure that their employees are future-ready.
It is our life, it is our career. We are the only losers if we sit back and not do enough to embrace the future. Hence, should we wait for organizations to help us outskill? Why can’t we take a few steps ourselves and be ready for the next challenge? What is stopping us from ‘becoming’ future-ready?
There is no time to wait. We need to outskill and be ready to fit into the post-pandemic technology-driven world. We need to adapt and learn new skills or else the road ahead will be tough I believe.
Frontlist: What guidance do you have for recent graduates regarding the skills and knowledge that will help them cope in a post-pandemic job situation?
Partha: The basic leadership skills which are proven over age are not going to change completely , but the way we need to approach the new world has changed. I speak about 16 skills which need a renewal , a fresh perspective as the world will continue to evolve to lead through Technology, lead through processes and leaders will need to lead from the heart. The advise to the young talents will be very simple …keep unlearning and re-learning every day…. learn from every interaction, learn from stories you hear , incidences you go through. And keep outskilling – so that you are ready for the next role – be in within the organization or outside of it. You really do not know when the next opportunity knocks your door.
Frontlist: You've mentioned several leaders catering to different leadership skills in the book's second section. How do you classify all of them?
Partha: When the idea to include voices beyond me came to my mind, I started thinking – who should I include? I decided to include leaders like you and me , to get their real life current experiences. I have seen some books include celebrated known names , I wanted to have a contrarian approach, and hence included leaders from Managers to CEOs from across industries for readers to get a wider perspective. I wanted to share experience / stories that everyone can relate and would say “that’s me “ or “ I have seen this “.
I must say the book is highly enriched with their contribution , and they are truly my co-authors.
Frontlist: You've worked in various companies and projects; how was your experience, and how important is a job for a person's success?
Partha: Job played an integral part of my life as I learnt a lot every day . To me success is relative, the definition of success varies from person to person. Indeed I have been fortunate to work in some of the world biggest brands . I worked in Fortune 500 organizations as well as start-ups. The experience and learning at each organization been amazing and every those days shaped me to become a better leader and a better human being.
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