(This story originally appeared in on Mar 10, 2021)

Are you good at problem-solving with good interpersonal skills? Do you have strong technical skills with a humanities background? Can you think inside the box — be creative in a confined space — a skill set that’s needed during a crisis like a pandemic?

If so, you are hired.

“We will welcome talent that displays non-linear thinking at work. As a society, we have been trained to deal with limited data. With data explosion, information is abundant and now the real deal is finding the ‘relevant needle in a haystack’,” said KPMG India’s digital advisory head Akhilesh Tuteja.

There’s a growing demand for people who not only have specific qualifications to transform an organisation digitally but can also demonstrate a combination of other attributes like inter-personal skills and are pragmatic with a sharp analytical mind.

“We expect agility and a life-long learning approach for potential KPMG-ers. We believe that the future of consulting is not about basing the strategies on what worked well and what didn’t work in the past. Given the speed of evolution of digital technologies, relying largely on proven trends and past experience can be quite limiting,” said Tuteja. KPMG India plans to hire several thousand people in the coming years, half of which would be experienced professionals.

The change in the nature of talent requirement is not restricted to any one function of an organisation. It cuts across all departments. Take the case of human resources, for instance.

“In three years, the manner in which the HR function has undergone a change is dramatic. We now have data scientists, analytics and data experts working in HR. Every HR practitioner is expected to manage massive amounts of data and also derive useful insights. It’s a skill every HR practitioner needs to possess. A manager today needs to have the ability to handle change. He/she needs to be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” said Chaitanya Sreenivas, IBM India and South Asia HR head. Sreenivas said as iterative jobs like processing of claims and query response continue to reduce, HR has become more consultative and strategic for an organisation.

At Sun Life ASC (Asia Service Center) India — the global in-house centre of Sun Life Financial, a Canadian financial services company — a rigorous set of psychometric assessments are deployed for hiring across all levels. The aim is to look beyond the cognitive and analytical ability of the candidates, assess their learning agility, their interaction styles and also their ability to connect the dots and appreciate the big picture.

According to an IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) study, a majority of CEOs surveyed in India see technological and market factors, along with regulatory concerns, among the most important external forces that will affect their business in the next few years, following the massive disruptions of 2020. Half of outperforming company CEOs surveyed globally and 35% in India said managing a remote “anywhere” workforce is a top leadership challenge over the next few years. The longer-term challenge of a hybrid work environment would require providing employees with digital, cloud-enabled tools for collaboration.

Sun Life ASC’s CHRO Rajeev Bhardwaj said, “Today, organisations need to respond to their clients and communities within an agile environment. That means they need to focus on network performance, network learning and network fit, rather than individual contribution and competencies alone.” Clearly, in order to drive high performance in this interdependent environment, new mindsets and capabilities are required. “It’s important that people be curious, eager to learn, collaborate, share accountability while progressing to remain effective,” said Bhardwaj.

Tuteja of KPMG said through the interview process, candidates are accessed on the basis of whether they were risk-averse or are willing to take calculated risks. “During the course of the interview, we also get a sense of whether the candidate is a visionary or executionary or a healthy mix of both,” he added.

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