On July 23rd, Randstad Canada hosted a very enlightening conversation between two smart, confident and quick-witted women: Carolyn Levy, President of Randstad Technologies and Sage Franch, aka The Trendy Techie. Almost 400 viewers tuned in on Instagram and Facebook! They discussed all things future, sharing their insights and experiences on how to grow your career while expressing your authentic self. I was personally inspired by their gusto, sharp minds, and clear-sightedness about where the world of work is headed. Here are a few of my takeaways from the conversation:
on innovation & intrapreneurship:
Lots of businesses are talking about innovation, and how it's critical to stay relevant. At the same time, there's fear about how to approach it. "If you support innovation, you need to support failure’’, says Carolyn. Accepting risk and failure is counter-intuitive for most organizations, and yet, setting up the structure to allow for innovation at all levels of the organization to thrive is essential. So how do you unlock the inner genius of people and their input? "Employees must be allowed to lean in’’ says Carolyn, ‘’and use their voice to identify opportunities for their organizations to innovate." And that’s where intrapreneurship comes into play. In her line of business, Carolyn is currently experimenting with her team with what she calls ‘’the architecture of contribution," In a nutshell, it's moving away from the traditional way of cascading down the strategy planned by the top executives to the field workers who will execute it. Rather, they're opting to co-create, with a group of leaders, pieces of the strategy and ask the top executives for acceptance. "Your leaders will choose to work on the pieces that really connect with them." This approach makes it much easier for leaders to push ideas forward and bring them to life. Of course, people need to come to the table with courage, creativity, and trust. But this is the mindset that you need to develop in the future of work. This way of working feeds on people’s entrepreneurial mindset, while setting the stage for innovation to happen.
on nurturing meaningful connections:
Social media is a two-headed beast: it can connect us - and just as quickly disconnect us from each other. In that context, how do we continue to build meaningful connections? "Whenever you meet someone, don’t think about what you can get - think about what value you can give," says Sage. She puts that value-add first approach into practice - and the results she receives are astounding. "So I started to book virtual coffee meetings with people I don’t know, to chat about pretty much everything, projects, experiences, technology, etc., every weekday morning. I opened a calendar in January, and within 48 hours I was booked until July. I was shocked how people crave these connections." There will be more and more virtual connections in the future, but that doesn't mean they need to feel robotic. Quite to the contrary. It's more important than ever to show empathy, understand and be interested in the other person’s perspective - and add value.
on skill-building for the future:
According to the Future of Jobs Report from the World Economic Forum, more than one-third of the skills we believe are essential for today's workforce will have changed in just 5 years. A bit scary right? Here are some the skills Sage and Carolyn identified as critical for the future of work:
- creativity and collaboration: as smart as they can be, machines can’t connect with a human as easily as another human can. But as Sage and Carolyn pointed out, the need for inspiring and meaningful connections that resonate on an emotional level won’t go away. "Empathy, collaboration, creativity, transformational leadership, those soft skills are not taught in school, where we focus on hard skills. So in order to master them, experiment, put yourself in situations where you will get to practice them," says Carolyn.
- judgment and decision-making: Yes, we rely more and more on machines to process and analyze large amounts of complex information, so we can make more insightful, data-driven decisions. But that doesn't release us from the responsibility of acknowledging the broader implications of a decision, such as moral or ethical issues. "We still need to exercise our own judgment and be accountable for our decisions. We need to be able to consciously say: I agree with this machine, or I don’t," says Sage.
- growth mindset and adaptability: "In our Women transforming the workplace survey, 73 percent of women ranked the ability to adapt to new technology as the most important skill for the future," says Carolyn. Technological innovations such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, and blockchain will create new jobs that will require sophisticated skills. But even if you're not a developer or an engineer, technology develops at such a fast pace, and is so present everywhere, that everyone will need to develop a basic comfort level and understand the impact they have on their organizations and their jobs.
on finding a great mentor:
"Initially, my approach to mentorship was to go after someone I admired, and ask: 'will you mentor me?' When one person replied: 'well, about what?', that’s when I clicked," remembers Sage. If you want to get into a fruitful mentor/mentee relationship, you need a plan: identify where your gaps are, what specific issues you want to advice on, and the top three or four challenges you want to tackle. Carolyn also looked for mentors - first, internally at work. Then, she realized that she could get also a lot of value by going external. "One of the strongest mentors I had was a gentleman who helped me reintegrate work after leaving on mat leave. That’s when I realized the power of storytelling." A great mentor will not tell you what to do: they will tell you stories about their journey and share underpinning feelings that will allow you to connect on a deeper, emotional level with the situation you are experiencing, providing you with lots of ah-ha moments and opportunities to grow. Sage agrees: "As a young female developer, I faced so many discriminatory comments. That’s why I started to tell my story and connect with people who needed to hear that story, creating some powerful relationships along the way." Both Carolyn and Sage concluded on that thought: mentorship is totally worth the time investment and account for some of the best meaningful connections you can create.
If I had to summarize in a sentence their thought-provoking conversation, I would say this: the future of work is definitely human-centric.
interested in learning more about innovative women and how you can support women in your workplace?
Marie-Noëlle is the head of communications for Randstad Canada. She's also the program lead and ideator for Randstad's Women Transforming the Workplace program. Her passion: crafting and telling stories that inform, stories that move, stories that make you think.