Industry Leaders Share Insights on Post-COVID Career and Business Trends at ISBF Panel Discussion

New Delhi: Indian School of Business & Finance (ISBF), New Delhi, a leading institute in Economics, Finance and Management in India offering international degrees from top foreign universities, hosted a virtual panel discussion on ‘Industry Trends and How to Build your Career Post COVID-19’ on 5 July as a part of its ongoing immersive careers workshop series, iASPIRE.

The discussion, open to the general public and focused on current and graduated class XII students, had distinguished industry leaders as panellists, including Richard McCallum, Vice–Chair, United Kingdom India Business Council (UKIBC); Ritika Sakhuja, Director – Talent Acquisition, Nielsen and Sameer Pathak, General Manager – Activation, Marketing, Coca-Cola. It was followed by an insightful session by Prof Paul Kelly, Dean of the EMFSS Programmes at LSE and Chiraag Mehta, Associate Academic Director, ISBF, on the ISBF and LSE relationship and studying abroad in the post-COVID era.

The panellists deliberated on the functioning of businesses and the speed of growth of various sectors post-pandemic and how students can and should brace for the upcoming transformations.

Commenting on how the working paradigms have changed owing to the pandemic, Richard McCallum, Vice-Chairman, UKIBC, said, “With the right conditions and the right mindset, the system can be more productive, environmentally more sustainable and mentally healthy. When people are not visible in the office, they let their work get noticed, which ensures a definite increase in productivity and output.” He went on to say, “COVID is going to catalyse digitalisation of absolutely everything.” Highlighting the relevancy of domicile of the workers and how skilled Indian workforce stand benefitted, he remarked, “Countries like India have a lot to gain as the cost differentials of a talented person with an internet connection are very compelling in comparison to someone based in London or New York.”

Elaborating on the industrial disruption and its implications on career opportunities in post-COVID era, Ritika Sakhuja, Director of Talent Acquisition at Nielson, emphasised on how companies have realised that certain types of roles can permanently operate as ‘work-from-home’, saving on fixed costs. “Organisations would need to restructure themselves in the newer model of functioning”, she observed. Encouraging students to develop skills right from the start, she said, “New skill sets will be required and a lookout for changes would be paramount. There are a lot of soft skills that students would want to develop right now to stay ahead of the curve.”

The FMCG sector is inarguably one of the most disrupted due to the current unprecedented circumstances. Acknowledging an obscure future, Sameer Pathak, General Manager, Activation, Marketing, Coca-Cola, said, “It’s never happened before, so one can actually make only an educated guess as things seem to be coming back to normalcy.” Addressing the issue of how students should try and view their career opportunities through a lens of practicality and where one invests their passion and encouraging them to be bold, he continued, “Every day is a new day and new things are coming. Understanding the tools of the trade and developing relevant employability skills will be extremely important.”

The discussion was followed by an interactive session with Prof. Paul Kelly, the Dean of EMFSS Programmes at LSE, who talked about the deep and long-standing relationship between University of London, London School of Economics (LSE) and ISBF, and in particular, LSE’s role in the EMFSS programmes delivered at ISBF. A globally renowned political theorist, Prof. Kelly gave an insight into LSE’s global impact in disseminating the study of social sciences and bringing that expertise in reality across the world, underpinned by the academic excellence driven by the institution.

Elaborating on the LSE-ISBF relationship, Prof. Kelly mentioned, ‘More than 50 LSE faculty members are involved in driving the academic direction of the University of London EMFSS Programmes that are taught at ISBF on behalf of LSE. The subject areas taught at ISBF add significantly to University of London’s core mission of allowing globally impactful degrees to be studied locally.’

Touching upon the close-knit partnership between the three institutions that ensures academic quality and rigour and transferability of those standards across each element, he said, “Whether they are taught at LSE or ISBF or elsewhere, students can be assured that they are learning from the best academic standards. Even during these difficult times of COVID-19, the assessments of ISBF students are being marked here in London at this very moment.”

Taking a lead from Prof Kelly’s elucidation on LSE-ISBF collaboration, Mr. Chiraag Mehta, Associate Director, ISBF talked about studying abroad in these uncertain times of health and financial risk. “At ISBF, through our partnerships with University of London and LSE, our mission has been to bring the very best of international education to India, in the fields of Economics, Management, and Finance. In the current situation, many students are going to miss out on being able to study abroad, which means they miss out on both the experience and the education. We are very pleased that we can solve the latter problem fully, as several aspects of our programmes with LSE cater to international experience too, such as being taught by LSE faculty members and transferring to LSE in 2nd year”, he stated.

The coming weekend (July 11 & 12, 2020) of iAspire has another exciting array of luminary industry experts lined up – Mr. Deep Kalra, Founder & CEO of MakeMyTrip, Mr. Nikhil Arora, MD, and Vice President, GoDaddy, Mr. Rajat Kathuria, Director and Chief Executive, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) and Mr. Vikas Newatia, CEO, Royal and Sun Alliance India – who will lead sessions on a wide range of topics including policymaking, development sector, marketing, entrepreneurship, actuarial science, and academia.