Nitin Mishra, Ambassador at The Transition Phase and current Analyst at IBM was fortunate enough to speak to Andi Britt, Talent and Change Leader at IBM, about future talent and transferable skills.

Andi, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Firstly, What do you think junior talent in professional services will look like in the future?

The workplace is ever changing, and it is now becoming more digitalized. This offers great opportunities for graduates now, and in the future as they’ve grown up in the digital era and are used to working with the digital/technology aspects within their everyday life. Contrast this to the majority of what you’d call the experienced workforce, who are still looking to get their head around digital.

Digital skills are also not necessarily linked to the level of education a graduate comes from. People can be just as digitally competent without university study, which offers new and exciting opportunities to individuals who perhaps chose not to go to university, to now be able to build a career at a firm like IBM. Digitalization is not the norm for the current employee landscape, and Digital Transformation within the workplace is a new concept, which makes graduates and juniors ‘digital natives.’

Finally, I think the workplace will be flatter in the future. Traditional hierarchy is becoming a thing of the past. Now we are seeing teams formed around specialist expertise regardless of age and level. Thus hierarchy is now being based more on skills, offering fantastic opportunities for juniors and graduates.

What trends do you think will impact prospective junior candidates (Eg graduates/apprentices) in joining firms like IBM?

Reinvention trend: Everything is changing more rapidly, the way we work, how we do things and the environments we operate in. This will require a constant need to reinvent skills and capabilities. Traditionally especially within professional services, graduates would follow one career path, but as teams, departments and organisations become more collaborative, the opportunities to reinvent skills and apply them across a much more varied career path will become the common norm.

Speed: – Ginni Rometty says “speed is the new business competence.” And this couldn’t be truer. As global organisations offer a more agile and flexible workforce, and streamline their capabilities through cheaper offshore operations, there is an ever growing expectation for speed as well as quality. Especially when servicing global clients.

From your experience, do you think there is a place for people who have less traditional routes in to large organisations? For example, someone who has gone through alternative education alongside elite sport, as opposed to just university…

Yes I absolutely do. If you take IBM and our need for digital skills across all levels, it is clear that there will be so many opportunities for ‘digitally savvy’ individuals, who may not have developed these skills through the university route. Having digital capabilities can come from work and life experience, as opposed to just traditional education.

When hiring at IBM, we put as much focus on the aptitude (the ability to learn) and attitude (mental approach) of an individual, as we do their academics and experience. Those with a strong willingness to learn, and the ability to be flexible. This is why school leavers and apprentices are becoming attractive and popular

And finally, with your industry knowledge and experience, do you see a set of transferable skills that athletes from an elite sport background could bring to a workplace?

Absolutely. When we review an individual’s CV, if we can see that they have excelled in sport, it raises our estimation of the candidate’s discipline and drive to succeed. Elite sportsmen/women compete at a high level, and for them to be successful they have to be very self-disciplined in all aspects of their life. With their time, what they eat, their training schedules and their overall lifestyle management.

They have the ability to deal with failures and then maintain positivity, which is a great trait to have within business. You generally find that athletes come with good teamwork and collaboration skills, and they understand a lot about their own character, their limitations and their individual strengths.

From experience I’ve also seen that ex athletes have good balance in their life, and maintain clarity in what they see as important. They can commit the right balance of energy and discipline to succeed in work, with their family, their fitness and wellbeing, and their ability to give back to others.

All of these traits can make elite athletes well rounded and successful for the workplace.