Top 5 differentiating skills MBA Graduates need to develop in 2020

Well, it seems that we have reached a treaty of sorts to co-exist with the Corona virus. As businesses try to get back on track post the lockdown, there will be a need to manage newer business models, newer ways of working, newer standard operating processes, newer compliances and of course newer technologies. Businesses are now highly connected, collaborative and competitive. In the “new normal” (I personally do not like to call it that!) businesses will need leaders that are better equipped, agile and prepared. At present, the job situation is challenging and the competition is manifold. The margin to differentiate is very small. 

So, in such a situation what are some of the competencies that MBA graduates should acquire to differentiate themselves in the job market?

Core Domain:

Management education has been providing specialization in core domains such as Finance, Marketing, HR, Operations and Systems. Students are expected to build a strong foundation about the concepts, processes and theories in their core domain of choice. As the core domains are horizontal functions, they are generic and are applicable at a high level across industries. We are also looking at cross – domain knowledge. Example, what does finance mean in marketing? How does operations play a pivotal role for marketing? This is a minimum requirement.

Industry Specific:

Now that students have built a strong foundation in one of the core domains, it is time to apply to an Industry of their choice. For example, if a student is has taken up Marketing as a core domain and Industry of choice is Retail, then the student has to have an in-depth understanding about how Marketing works in the Retail industry, what were some of the successful / unsuccessful marketing campaigns, how were new products or campaigns released, channels used, top movers. This will enable the students to start creating their edge. An added advantage will be that the students will now have a more focused approach on which organizations they should look for placements in their industry of choice. 

Techno – Functional Skills:

In the last ninety days we must have used more technology platforms than we would have done in a complete year. We must accept the fact that technology is now at the core of the business function. Knowledge of working with office automation tools such as documentation, excel, presentations, emails, messengers, e-collaboration platforms, intranet portal, networking, internet search engines are now mandatory. It is also important to have knowledge of technology concepts such as Cloud, ERP, CRM, HRIS, Datacentres, Databases, Data Science, Analytics, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Students should understand how technology is being used in their core domain function. To have a differentiating edge, students should know at least one of the market leading product and how different industries are implementing it in their core domain function. For example, HR students should have knowledge of SAP Successfactors or Workday or ADP. 

Business Leadership Skills:

The current situation has demanded that business leaders to demonstrate agility in adapting to changing situations, ability to innovate and do things differently, ability to assess potential risks in a situation, passion to lead the business like an entrepreneur, persuasion to work as team to achieve objectives and most importantly build an environment of trust. Knowledge about how the entire supply chain works, identifying what are the P&L drivers for the business and understanding how internal enterprise processes work is a must for students. Along with this, students need to understand that businesses are now global – understanding international business, aware of the global socio – economic – political environment, knowing a foreign language, having global internship experience can give students the edge against the competition. Recent funding successes for Reliance Jio, successful merger of GSK with HUL and diversification in hospitality and entertainment business would be interesting case studies for management students to understand business leadership skills.

People leadership Skills:

People are the most important resource for any business. The current pandemic situation has made people leadership skills core to any business leader. Employees are be looking at their leaders for skills such as Empathy, Trust, Empowerment, Resilience, Emotional intelligence, Team Building, Transparency, Humility, Technology Quotient and Caring that are more people centric. At the same time in times when there is little clarity business leaders will be looking at their employees for skills such as for Team Spirit, Innovation & Creativity, Agility and Change Adaptability, Emotional Quotient, Health & Safety Compliance, Fitness Quotient and self-awareness that will enable the employees to quickly adopt to the VUCA situation.

It is a highly crowded and competitive world out there and it is necessary to differentiate. Do you dream of creating global businesses one day? Do you see yourself as a part of our nation’ growth story? Do you aspire to be building a successful career with one of the global giants? Then these Top 5 skills are there for you to develop.

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