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Self-pivots for sustained growth

PERSOLKELLY Consulting’s managing director and Business Head in APJ, Anthony Raja Devadoss shared last year, about upskilling and reskilling activities in Malaysia.

Specifically, upskilling and reskilling needs to happen to support pivots that businesses make in a new normal.

In fact, besides five tips for businesses, he had five tips for individuals on how to deal with the current situation that a majority of us may find ourselves in.

Soft skills

“I would ask you to build your soft skills. You might be wondering, we are already talking about digital, virtual, remote working skills… what more do we need?

“This would be it… emotional and social intelligence,” Anthony said.

Anthony Raja Devadoss

He explained that during this period of lockdowns and fewer face-to-face interactions, it can become difficult to connect to another human.

“If we lose that touch (to create human connection), sooner or later we become robots.

“So, emotional and social intelligence, a new skill even acknowledged by LinkedIn, has become a very important skill to have,” Anthony said, adding that this comes with abilities like collaboration, adaptability, creativity, and persuasiveness.

Digital and technical

Digital skills are still important, as are technical skills, and here is where he wanted to define the term some more.

“Technical skills can come in any form, blockchain, cloud, data science, and many more.” In contrast, digital skills which he has mentioned earlier in the conversation, is to do with ability to connect with digital devices and digital apps.

Emotional and social intelligence skills used to be in the backburner. But guess what… it is the top 5 skills to have, in the world now.

Something else very important that Anthony wanted to highlight as well, is global business services, which is also known as business process outsourcing, knowledge process outsourcing, or IT process outsourcing.

“These are the areas that are hiring the most. The highest number of hiring in 2020, was in the BPO sector, so equip yourself with BPO skills or skills related to BPO,” he pointed out, adding that Malaysia’s BPO industry has good potential because of the multi-cultural environment and multi-lingual capability which exists here.

Portable skills

Portable skills relate to the experience and know-how that one has built up over the years. One may have an e-commerce and telecommunications background, but be in the people business like sales and marketing.

Anthony illustrated, “So, I combine both technology and people, and I can see the value. I learnt a lot over the years and if I did not have that experience of learning, I could not apply it today.”

It is an intricate ecosystem one has built around one self over the course of many years, consisting of special support, networks, community, and all.

It cushions the impact, for example, of being displaced from work, and allows one to prepare to transition to the next job.

“So, you need to be ready for that. Portable skills help prepare you for a rainy day,” Anthony said.


Anthony encourages everybody to have a trusted mentor.

“Build a good network of mentors and friends out there. Not all Facebook friends are helpful,” he said, wanting to point out that different social networks serve different purposes., and hence have different ‘type’ of contacts.

Anthony himself actually mentors and gives guidance at different programmes and different organisations like the Rotary Club.

“A lot of people think that it is not required. It can be difficult for persons to accept mentorship, as well.”

Anthony thinks that having a coach or mentor to learn from, one can ultimately improve.

“So, I encourage everybody to have a trusted mentor,” he said.

Mental hygiene

The fifth tip is about mental hygiene and notions of emotional and social intelligence.

“It is a life skill to be able to deal with any situation. Especially due to recent conditions you have notice, for example, that suicide rates have gone up.

“I call it mental hygiene, and to address it appropriately, you need to have emotional and social intelligence skills.”

Anthony also added, “If your education and upbringing comes with that knowledge, I say you are lucky. But, if it doesn’t, fortunately, this is your time to learn that.

“Emotional and social intelligence skills used to be in the backburner. But guess what… it is the top 5 skills to have, in the world now.”

I call it mental hygiene, and to address it appropriately, you need to have emotional and social intelligence skills.

Anthony sees these skills as helping one be adaptable to the lifestyle changes many have to make.

“So, for individuals and businesses, get yourself safe and sustainable the next 12 months. That’s the final message (from me),” he concluded.