November 30, 2020

Essential skills to drive careers and business forward

The essential skills – Learning agility, a growth mindset, and communication skills – are at the top of the list in driving careers and businesses forward


Digitization has been moving our world faster than we’ve ever known. Think back to last year: How many of you would have predicted that many organizations today would go virtual due to a major disruption?


While we were prepared for such changes, we weren’t fully equipped to face all the new challenges disruption has thrown in our paths. We got too comfortable in our usual ways and this has put many businesses on edge.


This is a wake-up call. While it is normal to predict and find patterns in trends in the business landscape, there are still many other factors that can affect us that we cannot control. Who could have known that the recent pandemic would have affected us here in Thailand in so many ways — and that the impact would be so much worse for many other countries?


While preparing to go digital is one way to prepare for disruptions and challenges ahead, people are still the core of every organization. We cannot take them out of the equation no matter how much we feel that technology can replace human tasks.


With technological advancements accelerating and taking on many human tasks, newer jobs present themselves for people to take over.


The question is: are people equipped enough to take on new jobs of the future?


This is just what a World Economic Forum article on four technology trends from emerging economies highlights. 


Many people are worried that they’re at risk of getting replaced by machines when their focus should be on preparing and building the skills to take on new roles. Some of these fall under what we know as “soft skills”, but I believe these have evolved into “essential skills” that come hand in hand with what we know as the technical, hard skills.


In the last week, I had the privilege of being invited to speak on a panel at the Brand Inside Forum, where I shared observations on the foundations needed to build on our essential skills. The list of essential skills may look different in each industry, company, and job role.


Here are three basic foundations we need to build to foster the essential skills we need today.


Learning agility


With emerging trends and changes in our world, new jobs are presenting themselves. This means new skills are required to do well in those jobs. Learning agility means being able to adapt to change with speed through learning the necessary skills.


While agility in the organization is necessary, people need to develop agility in learning too. Change is the only constant element in our world and learning allows us to move with it. Learning agility helps us to quickly determine the skills and knowledge gaps we have to survive change and develop what we need to succeed.


Developing learning agility can be challenging as we don’t always have the time or resources to learn. However, learning can be done in many blended approaches. Those approaches include reading books, trends, and learning social pages, YouTube, podcasts, and even through social interactions.


Growth mindset


There’s always room to learn something new, no matter how experienced we are or how much we’ve already learned. The reality is that what we know today could become redundant tomorrow. 


This brings us back to the reason why we need learning agility. However, the ability to learn fast to adapt to change isn’t enough. A great mindset toward learning can be beneficial in a sustainable way. It allows us to see all successes and failures as part of our learning journey. 


We shouldn’t be limiting ourselves to what we know. Instead, we unlock our own opportunities to design the life, career, and business we desire.


Communication skills


During the lockdown, there were many problems in terms of communication within organizations — even in my own business. The flexible workplace is our new normal, where remote work and virtual meetings are part of our daily lives.


Developing the skill sets for communication isn’t just a “good to have” attribute anymore, it is now a must. It is especially crucial because how we communicate face to face isn’t the same as how we communicate virtually. Often, we may need to over-communicate to get our point across online, more so than face to face.


The skills we require in 2021 and in the future will continue to change. This is because we know that there will be more disruptions ahead. There are many things we cannot control in our world today. But we can control how we can move with the changes we face.


Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC – Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at or Explore and experience our lifelong learning ecosystem today at