In Conversation with #dtecosystem Dialogue Opening Keynote Speaker, Kate Barker, Global Board Advisor & Chief HR Futurist, NEOM

 In Conversation with #dtecosystem Dialogue Opening Keynote Speaker, Kate Barker, Global Board Advisor & Chief HR Futurist, NEOM

With one week to go to for Digital Talent Ecosystem Dialogue, which is on 23rd May, at Habtoor Grand Resort- Autograph Collection, Dubai UAE- Kanupriya Singh, Chief Curator of the #dtecosystem dialogue had the opportunity to interview Kate. Enjoy the excerpts from the interview.

  1. Digital Transformation is driving a new wave of talent & culture. As a renowned Chief HR Futurist with over three decades of experience, How you see HR leading to build the organization of the future?

HR has a crucial role to play right now in the future of work. This fast-changing global environment is pressuring organisations to rethink their business models and accelerate their transformation agendas. HR can serve as the catalyst for organisational transformation by helping to create future-ready organization, that can keep pace with rapid technology advancements, manage a gig economy that demands flexible and remote work options, and attract & retain the best talent. To meet these expectations, HR must first be willing to transform themselves. They need to re-examine their own people strategies, organization structures, processes, and skills & capabilities while leading by example in embracing technology. By doing so, HR can play a central role in building inclusive human-centric organizational cultures, driving sustainable business priorities, and delivering value.

  1. What do organizations need to be concerned about in bridging the digital talent gap and your views on what role should leaders play?

HR Leaders need to prepare a Future Work Strategy including a Future Skills Plan, by looking critically at the technical and human skills needed to future-proof their workforce and move quickly to free up the resources needed to take the first steps towards building a culture of lifelong learning among their employees. What is required is a holistic solution that prioritises new approaches to skills development within an existing workforce and in previously untapped talent pools. Such an approach would also help address the shared responsibility (with governments and education providers) of ensuring that the technological advances don’t increase economic inequality. Top 2 suggestions are:

Harness technology to enable lifelong learning

The organizations that are successful in workforce transformation will be able to harness new and emerging technologies to reach higher levels of efficiency of production and consumption, expand into new markets, and compete on new products for a global consumer base. Organisations can develop their own courseware for reskilling and upskilling employees. Several online learning platforms such as Coursera, Udacity and Udemy help businesses stay ahead of digital disruption by offering courses in areas including data science, machine learning and AI. Salesforce has developed its own free, gamified online learning platform. Innovation Hub powered by GOOGLE here in UAE, is built with the goal to develop a robust and innovative community, passionate about growing the UAE’s technology and talent pipeline.

Swim outside your usual talent pools.

Leaders must also develop new approaches to workforce development for those outside of traditional talent pools. By hiring people from diverse backgrounds, including young people, minority groups and those without a college education, businesses can tap into a huge pool of high-potential and underutilised talent. Studies have confirmed the benefits of workforce diversity, which drives both innovation and results. According to a McKinsey report, companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity achieved on average were 30% higher financial returns.

  1. Which of the current trends in the digital future workforce of great interest to you?

I am fascinated by leadership and how their will drive organisational cultures to evolve to meet the opportunities and challenges in the future of work.

Good leadership is about trust. Trust is the essential factor for success and is foundational for an organization to evolve, flex, pivot, adapt, and ultimately thrive in times of continuous change. Trust is so important, as research* tells us people at high-trust companies report: 74% less stress and 29% more satisfaction with their lives, 106% more energy at work and 50% higher productivity. Who doesn’t want this?

Trust does not come easy and, right now, trust is on a downward spiral. Edelman’s newly released Trust Barometer shows trust in the media and government, both once revered as beacons of trust, has eroded. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to building trust. Trust can only be earned. And it takes time to build. Yet there are certain traits that leaders who inspire the confidence of their colleagues and teams possess that will help you as you begin to foster your own culture of trust.

A human-centered approach. Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs was a famous proponent of “bringing your whole self to work.” And it’s easy to see why: people always follow people. So, while the idea that leaders must always show courage and strength may have succeeded in the past, today’s employees expect their leaders to show other sides of their personalities, too. Winning employees’ trust will require you to develop softer skills, like authenticity, humility, honesty, and self-awareness, alongside the technical skills traditionally demanded in leadership roles.

Showing humility. If the pandemic taught us anything, it is that the long-held myth that leaders should have all the answers is no longer relevant. When we looked at how leaders could navigate this crisis, we found that while it was important to honestly accept the gravity of the situation and communicate openly, leaders also needed to be humble enough to admit they didn’t have all the answers. When you do this, it not only gives you credibility, but also the opportunity to share an authentic vision that is both reassuring and realistic. In turn, employees and colleagues are more likely to believe that you are the right person to steady the ship and navigate a path forward.

Delivering on your promise. One of the most critical bedrocks of trust is the ability to do what you say you are going to do. Today, this is perhaps most acute in the shift towards sustainable business. As more and more companies commit to lofty net-zero goals, employees, consumers, and the media will be looking for clear evidence that leaders will not only talk the talk on sustainability but also walk the walk. In the absence of any global standard for ESG reporting, leaders are standing squarely on trust—trust that they will do the right thing and deliver on their promises. As you look to 2022, ensuring you have a clear roadmap for change to support your sustainability vision should be high on the priority list. After all, you can only lose trust once.

  1. What are you most looking forward to at Digital Talent Ecosystem Dialogue 2022?

I am excited to share with you my insights and client experiences, that will engage and entertain the audience, meet the HR & business community, and answer some incredible questions, and connect with my fellow-speakers.

“When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.” – Howard Schultz

* Harvard Business Review from Paul J. Zak, a Professor at the Claremont Graduate University and author of The Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to join the conversation and network with your peers at this first of its kind event in the region . You can register here