In a panel discussion titled "Diversifying Skill Portfolios: Thrive In A Dynamic & Multifaceted Future," during People Matters’ Learning and Development Conference held in Mumbai recently, industry experts shared insights on the importance of diversified skill portfolios and innovative learning approaches. The panel included Ajit Ravindran Nair, Associate VP at Infosys Ltd, Navnidh Kochar Karaka, VP - HR & Head - HR, Global Corporate Security at Reliance Industries, and Potoula Chresomales, SVP, Product Management & Innovation at Skillsoft.
The discussion was moderated by Dipsa Acharya, Head of Global L&D at Adenza, who delved into strategies for accelerating the acquisition of diverse skills and breaking traditional role boundaries.
In a world characterised by constant disruption and volatility, the need for diversified skill portfolios is becoming increasingly apparent. Industry experts including Ajit Ravindran Nair, Associate VP at Infosys Ltd, Navnidh Kochar Karaka, VP - HR & Head - HR, Global Corporate Security at Reliance Industries, and Potoula Chresomales, SVP, Product Management & Innovation at Skillsoft provided valuable insights on diversifying skill portfolios.
The significance of diversified skill portfolios
Diversified skill portfolios are crucial for both organisations and individual professionals as they contribute to resilience in the face of disruptions, enable creative problem-solving, and enhance learning agility. Diversified skills prepare professionals and organisations to adapt quickly and effectively to changing environments.
Reflecting on his experience and challenges, Ajit Ravindran Nair, who was tasked with training nearly 6000 individuals on Big Data a couple of years ago, highlighted various hurdles encountered during the process. “One significant obstacle was the infrastructure required for Big Data—a technology stack demanding substantial resources for extensive processing, often dealing with humongous datasets ranging from 1000 GB to 2000 GB and beyond. Balancing the need for robust infrastructure with the simultaneous creation of extensive datasets posed a complex challenge,” said Ajit.
“Moreover, the learning curve for the participants proved to be steep, adding another layer of difficulty to the endeavor. Navigating through these multifaceted challenges required strategic planning and effective solutions to ensure a successful training program,” he added.
“We started with creating a learning path. Learning Path is kind of a step-by-step way forward, how a person can scale up on those particular technologies. “
"We initiated the process by establishing a structured learning path, delineating a step-by-step progression for individuals to enhance their proficiency in specific technologies. Our subject matter experts (SMEs) played a pivotal role in developing comprehensive content, incorporating assessments, and integrating various interventions such as project case studies and practitioner viewpoints. Addressing the infrastructure challenge, we introduced an innovative concept called 'technology playgrounds’ which eliminated the need for learners to navigate the complexities of software installations, a process that typically consumes several days for IT professionals ” mentioned Ajit.
“This helped people to get access to the relevant dataset. For instance, learners from the financial domain would receive a dataset relevant to finance, ensuring personalised and domain-specific learning experiences.”
Recognising the importance of articulation, they also designed applications that prompted learners with questions, and through video analytics, they gauged not only the accuracy but also the confidence and coherence in their responses. This enabled them to identify areas where learners needed further clarification or additional preparation.
“To validate the acquired knowledge, we implemented internal certifications, offering hands-on scenarios where learners demonstrated their problem-solving skills. The success of this comprehensive approach was evident as, within the first four months, we successfully trained and prepared 6000 individuals for deployment. Over the subsequent eight to nine months, this number grew to a five-digit figure, showcasing a remarkable journey from foundational knowledge to practical competency,” informed Ajit, adding that they undertook a similar initiative to scale more than one lakh employees in cloud technologies, demonstrating the scalability and effectiveness of our approach.
Breaking traditional role boundaries
Responding to how talent acquisition leaders and performance management leaders tap into that to break beyond the silos and boxes of the traditional role, Navnidh Kochar Karaka highlighted the importance of breaking beyond traditional role boundaries to leverage a blend of skills and talents.
She emphasised the role of talent acquisition and talent management in identifying related and peripheral skills that can be valuable in different roles. “Creating an internal talent marketplace within the organisation is key to connecting people with diverse skills to the right roles,” said Navnidh.
Leveraging AI for learning
Potoula Chresomales talked about the role of AI in accelerating learning. How AI can create new learning methods, including simulations and step-by-step guidance, to help individuals develop diverse skills rapidly. “Simulations can provide immersive experiences for learners, while step-by-step guidance ensures they don't waste time being confused about what to do next,” said Potoula
Implementing programs successfully
Navnidh stressed the importance of speed, sponsorship, and scalability when implementing skill development programs. “In the rapidly evolving technological landscape, organisations need to move quickly. Sponsorship from top management is crucial, and programs should be designed with scalability in mind,” she said.
Embracing ambiguity and learning agility
The panel also discussed the importance of embracing ambiguity and learning agility as essential future skills. These skills, along with judgment, achievement, and relationship-building, can prepare professionals for an ever-changing landscape.
Skill measurement and analytics
To create skill-based organisations, the panelists recommended investing in skill measurement methods like assessments, hackathons, and simulations. According to them, skill analytics can help organisations understand the skills of their workforce and make more informed decisions about talent placement and development.
They highlighted the growing need for diversified skill portfolios and the role of innovative learning approaches and AI in achieving this goal. “Organizations that can adapt quickly and create agile learning environments will be better equipped to thrive in a dynamic and multifaceted future,” said Potoula.