Ellen: Hello everyone and welcome to the Future of Work podcast series. I’m Ellen Wang from the Leeds University Business School.
Marc: Hello this is Marc from the Careers Service.
Ellen: Well, I can’t believe how time flies where we’ve done nine episodes across three different topics, during which time we’ve had some really fascinating conversations with various people and I feel like I’ve learned a lot. The future of work is really being shaped by two powerful forces: the growing adaptation of artificial intelligence in the workplace, the expansion workforce both on and off balance sheet talent. And what changes can be in store for the workplace, the workforce and the nature of work itself. Well of course the podcast is not here to provide solutions on some of the challenges and issues raised but more of a though provoking debate and explore how and where we progress in terms of preparing our students for the future. So Marc, what have we got for this episode for everyone as the wrap up session?
Marc: Ok Ellen so it’s been fascinating and what we have done is we’ve come up with these six key themes for our listeners. So they are: Opportunity knocks, curiosity killed the catastrophe, Rome wasn’t built in a day, be the change you want to see, me, myself, and I—which obviously resonates very closely with you and [inaudible] being a massive Della Soul fan—and the future is now but not necessarily in that order but that’s our, that’s going to be our takeaway topics, aren’t they? For the next few minutes.
Ellen: Absolutely. OK, well let’s start with the first one then. The one that I wanted to start with is ‘be the change you want to see.’ I’m not sure how many people’ve really heard this saying. Somebody, actually falsely attributed it to Ghandi and I’m not sure if that saying’s coming from Ghandi but I think the saying ‘be the change you want to see’ is really about the notion of being change that you want to see in these three powerful things when we adopt it. So it stops s from judging others, it replaces complaining about others with reflection on self, and it stirs us into taking action within the one thing in the world over which we have control of which is ourselves. That’s how I understand the saying of ‘be the change you want to see.’ What do you think, Marc? Do you think that’s about right?
Marc: Yep, I would agree with that. Yep. So what I would say with regards to that is that obviously in terms of work the world of work is changing, skills required for post-pandemic are being slightly rejigged if you like, so there is still, sort of, skills require now that always have existed, so verbal communication, written communication, problem solving, but it is key that these new skills that our graduates and our students are made aware of and keep their eyes on and see what is going on. And obviously addressing any of these skills through undertaking these skills through any sort of other activities that connect with those in application. What I would say, I mean again, we’ve said this throughout the podcast, and it’s a key thing that I would say is a takeaway is that A. many of the skills that are required now were required before and obviously, you know, our students are now graduates. Have evidence for those. It’s just understanding how to open those in applications and interviews but the second thing is no employer has been through a pandemic before. No one has been through the pandemic, everyone is learning.
Marc: And talking about learning, the way that the students have learnt over the last two years whilst hasn’t been ideal, whilst hasn’t not necessarily been what they came to university for. They came to be face to face in lecture theatres, in seminars. Not to be online, not to be on Zoom or Teams or collaborate. What I would say are those are the skills that employers are now looking at. We are going to be working hybrid. We are going to have work from home. We are going to be meeting on Teams and Zoom. So that puts our students and graduates in great position. They have learned and it has been a negative time, and I’ve said this before. I’m not being crass by saying this. It has been difficult. It has been negative but reflect on what we have learned in that time. Reflect on all that technology that we have learnt about because that is going to be important in the world of work and is something that is also new to employers. So, as individuals you know, we help shape the future.
Ellen: Absolutely. I think reflection is really important skill to have isn’t it. And speaking of reflection and reflection upon yourself, or oneself, I guess we can now move onto the second point which is your favourite, Marc.
Marc: It is! It is my favourite, yes. So this is… We call this, listeners, ‘me, myself and I.’ I was say we’ve called but yeah, we did agree it-
Ellen: [laughs] You did!
Marc: I did, I did, I agreed with myself. Yeah. And ‘me, myself, and I’ so as you all know out there, because you’re all massive De La Soul fans, that is a song by De La Soul from their album ‘3 Feet High and Rising’ which is a great album and if you never heard it please go in and listen to it because its fantastic on YouTube, or whatever you have. Spotify.
Ellen: I think you need to sing us a little verse!
Marc: No, no I… come and, come and see me at the workshop I’m here all week. Try the fish if you’re a pescatarian. But if you’re vegan you won’t try that, unless you get some sort of fake fish or fake and bake or whatever… Anyway, this isn’t what the podcast is about. You know, this is pretty much how I usually roll in my teaching. So that the reason we’ve called it this is again because this is something I’ve mentioned over the podcast and certainly the stuff that I mention all the time in my work is that the majority of the work that I do as a career consultant is I try getting a student or a graduate to try and get to know themselves inside and out. And the reason why that’s important is because obviously when you are applying for jobs, you have to use evidence to apply for jobs and evidence skills that that job requires. And, you know lots of times when I see an applications and even when an employer sees an application, they’ll see something of great value that the candidate won’t have seen. So they’ll wonder why that evidence hasn’t been used in that application for more interview and that’s really important. That’s understanding the transfer of skills, the transfer of experience, which, you know, which is what an employer is looking for and it’s not just about the evidence it’s about personality as well and understand the value of it to the employer. And essentially, one of my mantras is that if something is on a CV then it needs to be sold, otherwise why is it on the CV? So if you have got, sort of, extracurricular interests and it’s on there on a CV, you can sell that as well and sometimes that is the best example of a skill. So for example, you know, sometimes when we talk about teamwork… You know, teamwork is incredibly valuable for like a ballet dancer or an orchestra, but sometimes the candidate doesn’t use that because they don’t want to be a ballet dancer or they don’t want to be a violinist. They want to be a lawyer or an engineer but that’s a good example. So ‘me, myself, and I’ is basically understand, you know, our value, experiences and how to sell those.
Ellen: Yeah, that’s a really, really, important point isn’t it? And I think just to build up on that, sometimes people might have too much evidence that they build onto the CV so I think they need to be careful to select the right skill set to be able to sell themselves to be able to promote themselves in the right way. Is that right, Marc?
Marc: It’s true, yeah. It’s a bit like Sherlock Holmes. You can have too much evidence but obviously Holmes will work through that and he’ll get to the, he’ll get to spotting the evidence.
Ellen: Absolutely, absolutely. So speaking of which, then, I think the third point that I’m taking on that we came up with is ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’ Now that just kind of built up to your previous point that sometimes people are very keen to accomplish or trying to do things in a very short period of time. Right? And this is evidence then that I think this is because of the way that we live at the moment. Very fast-paced in the environment. Sometimes we’re too eager to get things moved on or get the results. The problem is that can lead to a weak foundation. So I think my perspective is to be able to build a very strong foundation so that you can evidence yourself and to be able to build, you know, from there.
Marc: Yeah. I agree so, I certainly agree that people want things straight away, which is probably what they were thinking when I was talking about ‘me, myself, and I’ wishing that I was quickly talking through that to talk about De La Soul. Anyway, not to reference De La Soul again. So, yeah, so I agree. A big thing that I talk about in a lot of my workshops with regards to ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ is this thing about careers are not necessarily linear. There’s a lot of higgledy piggledy, up and down, oscillating if I may sort of patterns to career journeys. What that means essentially is you might be lucky and get your dream job straight away and that’s fantastic. That’s brilliant. Excellent. We love that. If it doesn’t happen straight away, I doesn’t mean you’re not going to get it. It just means that sometimes you have to use stepping stones to get there. You take another job role. But as long as you’re learning from those jobs, as long as you’re still keeping your eyes open, looking at how you can use the job that you’re in to get into the job you want to work in that’s great. The other thing I would say is that obviously you know today, we have thousands of jobs, but next week there will be job that exists that doesn’t exist today. Next year lots of jobs will exist. Again, I talk a lot about this in my workshops. There are things, you know, to do with space travel. Space travel is a good example. There’s going to be a lot of jobs to do with space travel. They’re looking at getting a lot of tourists into space and that will create a lot of jobs. We talked about robotics in the future of work, AI, and that’s going to create a lot of jobs but they don’t exist at this moment. So again, that goes back to our first point which is, you know, be the change you want to see and do your research. But it’s also around, sort of, understand that you know you can get there in the end but it is not necessarily a linear journey.
Elle: Straightaway, right. Absolutely. Now, speaking of intriguing, Marc, I think when you’re talking about ‘me, myself and I’--
Marc: Yeah, the De La Soul Song.
Ellen: [laughs] Yeah, exactly.
Marc: I mentioned it.
Ellen: Maybe just once or twice. Now, speaking of intriguing, I think maybe one of the points you mentioned earlier was ‘curiosity kills catastrophe’ so I’m really intrigued. Can you tell us a little about that point?
Marc: I can tell you about that point, yes. So this is a pun, curiosity kills the catastrophe, and it’s a pun that I used for a title of a webinar I did with a colleague from Leeds Beckett, Ben Robertson. Hello, Ben! Under the guise of Leeds untied open brackets not a typo close brackets. And that is a collaboration Ben and I do in terms of webinar, which is very gif heavy with very pop-culture references. Mine are from the 80s, Ben’s are more recent. So for example, I might use a De La Soul, shall we say, from the 80s. Anyway, curiosity killed the catastrophe. So why are we saying this? That used as a pun because we did it for that webinar pretty much during lockdown and the reason being is that you know, curiosity is such an important thing. Again, first and foremost higher education is about keeping curiosity. We come to university not just to sit in front of, you know, a lecturer and then think the job is done. We sit in front of a lecturer, we do the seminar, we do the reading, and we read around stuff.
Ellen: So true. Yup.
Marc: And it’s the same with careers. We look at, sort of, job vacancies and we think, ‘OK, how can we develop that skill? How can we develop that knowledge?’ We go away and we read around it. We research. University is about research and that’s curiosity and that’s important. So, curiosity killed the catastrophe means if we look at the pandemic, you know, we have succeeded through the pandemic by research, new vaccines, new ways of working, being agile, being on Teams, working sort of remotely, et cetera. And that’s about, you know, being curious, about understanding how things are going to work. How are we going to get out of this situation? But that’s always been in the existence. That’s always been the same. We’ve always been curious about how can we do this job, how can we do this job better. How can we do this podcast better, in fact, Ellen? I mean that, that is impossible.
Marc: But you know what I mean. That’s what I’m talking about. Curiosity should be a tool that all students and graduates have. They should be interested in things around them and that’s we called this curiosity killed the catastrophe.
Ellen: Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. And I think curiosity is one of the things you’ve mentioned throughout different episodes as well throughout this podcast series and I think as a skill it’s really important to our students. And in fact, that just reminded me of a conference that I’ve attended which one of the keynote speakers was a VC from a very prestigious university and she said as an educator our responsibility is not to make you feel comfortable, as in the students. Our responsibility is to make you feel uncomfortable. This is very much about, you know, engaging and encouraging students for their curiosity, for them to come up with questions and challenge the research. Challenge us, you know, as educators. So you know, just kind of reminded me of that conference I attended and whatever VC has said really sticks in my mind and I just thought, you know, that’s a really brilliant way and mind-set to think and consider what their responsibilities are lies on educators shoulders really.
Marc: Do you think the listeners are uncomfortable then, Ellen? Listening to us?
Ellen: Well, I don’t know!
Marc: Do you think they’re curious?
Ellen: Well I hope we’re thought provoking at least.
Ellen: So with that said then, I think that kind of goes really nice with links to the next point that we’ll talk about, which is ‘opportunity knocks’ because that is all about people being proactive. So once you’re curious, you have to prepare yourself. You have to be proactive, you have to approach and that’s how opportunity knocks because, as you’ve said, Marc, in the past, that opportunity’s everywhere and eve when we interviewed Nicole Lock, she mentioned there are how many millions, of twenty five more millions, of jobs being created? Versus however many… comparatively speaking how many jobs that had ceased. So I think opportunities are being created all the time and certainly into the future and some of the things that you mentioned just now about there are, perhaps, jobs that doesn’t exist right now it sure will do in five years, ten years’ time. So it really is about people being proactive. How do you think people here at Leeds could do that? How our graduates can do that, please?
Marc: OK, lots of examples. Funny enough, and this is true, I’m not making this up. I literally just had coffee with a finalist this year that I’ve worked with this year for the last four years and I was talking to her about what she was doing in lockdown and she set her own business up. She was doing dog wall paper, which was quite interesting, for computers. [inaudible] I love Cataline. So she sort of ran her own business and Cataline is a great example of someone who is very proactive. So, I taught her in the first year And you know since the first year she’s got work experience. She’s been part of a climate society, she’s still a student ambassador at the minute. She’s started her graduate scheme early, whilst she’s still, sort of, you know, helping the university out. So you know, you’ve got extracurricular, you can do sort of work experience. I think the key thing is that, you know, you can do something and, you know, you don’t have to do a lot. One thing is enough. As I say to my first years when I teach, just chip away. One thing is enough. You know, if you join a club or society – fantastic. If it’s a hobby you want to develop – brilliant. That’s great. You got to do something because, you know, if we’re gonna get a job, especially sort of UK employers, they do like a well-rounded candidate that’ve got other things going. That’s important. The other thing is you’ve got to be in it to win it, which again is another saying. That’s a bit cliché, is that. A fridge magnet job, but another post I’d read this morning on LinkedIn when I came into work… it links to an end of an event or an end of mentoring event that took place last Friday. So there’s a mentoring scheme through the Careers Service, come on down to my colleague who runs that. And there was an event with the mentors and mentees that went on last week and one of the mentees posted on LinkedIn this morning saying they went to the event and actually got a summer internship through it, through networking.
Ellen: Oh wow!
Marc: Which again, you only get that by turning up to these things.
Ellen: Absolutely!ven the afternoon yet, it’s:
Ellen: Absolutely. I think it’s something to just kind of highlight there, you know. As a university, organising events for students all the time, networking events, employability, not only employability related… and as you say Marc, one of the things—and this is no criticism to anybody out there listening—but things do happen but what I find is sometimes people do sign up to things and not really turn up and then I think, well actually they’re signing up so that way they can get the content via recording but like you said, that’s just to demonstrate. It’s not about listening to the content afterwards, is it? It really is about the social interaction from the event by turning up but you can only generate some of the specific interactions and opportunities and by being proactively active. Being in the event, attending the event, and then the opportunity knocks. Right? So that’s really what we’re saying. I think obtaining the information and contents from the event is one thing but obviously going above and beyond, being that extra proactive is making you standing out from the crowd.
Marc: Yes, exactly. Could you be so standing out. That was really weird because I was thinking the words right now.
Ellen: Really? [laughs]
Marc: Yeah, yeah, yeah. What I would say is that you don’t stand out if you’re not there live, if you’re not engaging. I appreciate there’s people who think, ‘Well actually that’s some line how do I stand out’ but again by asking questions, putting stuff in the chat. I’ve spoken to many employers and I’ve said this to you in the podcast. If any employers in lockdown who are looking out for people engaged in the chat or want to open their mic up, that’s fine. Now we’re getting back to face-to-face. Again, you’ve got to be there to sort of stand out. As I said, you know, about the student from last Friday who now’s got his summer internship. You know, he did that because he turned up ad he engaged in conversation. It is important. The other thing about turning up is that if we have employers in and then, you know, no one turns up then they’re not going to come again. And that’s a shame because they have jobs. They come in because they’ve got jobs. They don’t come in for their health. Unless they’re on some steps regime or…
Marc: And that’s not Steps the band, which I think is a 90s band. So that’s not really my cup of tea, that. Not really 80s. But anyway…
Ellen: You are really into your music! Aren’t you Marc?
Marc: I mean, what I was going to say… Steps is not music… but that’s pretentious. Yes, so you’ve got to be in it to win it, which I said I think I’ve said it already.
Marc: I’ve said that twice.
Ellen: Yes but that’s ok. That’s ok.
Marc: [inaudible] That’s some more songs. But we’re getting further away, I think that’s the 50s?
Ellen: There’s another one. So ok, we… obviously the theme of this podcast is the future of work. We talk a lot about the future but yet we can’t predict the future. So I think that the last point that you mentioned, which I find the points really interesting and so I think perhaps we can discuss and expand now is the future is now. Tell us about that, Marc.
Marc: Yeah, OK, so again. Something I say to a lot of student sis this, the future is now. What I would say is, we have talked a lot about being active and proactive, et cetera. And, what I would say is if you’re sitting there and you’re thinking ‘I haven’t done this and I haven’t done that’ that’s fine. That’s OK. We can’t worry about things we haven’t done. And I always say this to students and graduates. We cannot expend energy on things we haven’t done but we can do is plan for what we are going to do. So we can look at what we can do, plan for that. Manage our time. And we can get involved from now, so let’s not worry about what we haven’t done. Let’s think about what we can do from now on. As I said earlier, the world of world is changing rapidly. We are learning skills, we are gaining knowledge and experiences that are going to start to shape that world. I think you mentioned this and it’s an important thing that I’m going to end up doing this piece on. And that is basically, why do you want someone to shape your world for you when you can get involved yourself? Why do you not want to shape your own life? That’s really important. And in fact, I’ll mention something. I’m reading a book at the moment by Eddie Izzard, who’s a comedian, a very famous comedian. And he’s got a couple quotes I was reading on this morning, on the train, and he’s actually spot on on what we’re doing. Eddie Izzard’s a very famous comedian and this book is literally about him being told that he can’t do something and then he goes and does it. So he’s very famous, a famous comedian, but he’s learned a lot of languages, his dyslexic, but he’s learned all these languages. He’s delivered his comedy in all these different languages. He did at something like 37 marathons in 37 days. He wasn’t a runner it was because he felt, I’m gonna do this! He has a fear of flying and he got over that by learning to piolet an aircraft. I mean I’m not saying you’ve got to all and go do this but what he says is it’s about mind-set. It’s about resilience and it’s about taking charge of your own life and I think, you know and whilst he is famous and it’s always dangerous to quote famous people, as he quite rightly said at one point he was a kid dreaming of this and then he just did it. We can do certain things ourselves. You know, I like to think that you know when I was reading that book that I love my job. When I was a careers advisor in a school a long time ago, ultimately I wanted to work in HE. I’m now working in HE. I’m in HE and I’m allowed to do things like this podcast with Hannah. Hannah, who’s not talking but Hannah is our colleague. And that’s great, I love that. And I do other things, like Leeds Untied with Ben, you know and really sort of using 80s gifs. Great. Brilliant. I’m allowed to do that. That’s brilliant, that’s what I want, so we take control ourselves. That’s the important thing. The future is now.
Ellen: Yeah. And I think, you know, it almost feels like we closed up the circle going back to the first point that we mentioned, which is exactly as you said. ‘Be the change you want to see,’ you know, talking about this comedian, the book that you’re reading.
Marc: He’s very famous, Ellen.
Ellen: Yeah, and I’m sure it is. But it’s about challenging yourself, it’s about making the change that you want to see because some people if you got severe phobia you’re probably trying to avoid as much of those but, you know, he did the complete opposite. So I feel like we’ve close the circle and completely gone through everything that we feel is like the six key takeaway from the future of work podcast series. And, I really hope that the listeners agree with us and that they enjoy the content as well. Well, I think on this note, Marc, I think this concludes our future of work podcast series. Don’t you think?
Marc: I think so, yeah. Unless you want me to talk some more about the infamous comedian that you don’t know about?
Ellen: Maybe next podcast series we’ll move onto that one. How about that?
Marc: Yeah, we’ll do that. Yeah.
Ellen: Great! Well thank you so much for tuning in listeners. I really hope you enjoyed the content. And enjoyed the wrap up session. And thank you so much Marc for being my very best co-host and very good colleague.
Marc: I’ve been your only co-host.
Ellen: Yes my only co-host.
Marc: So thanks for that! And thank you to Hannah as well, we mustn’t forget especially for recording this!
Ellen: Absolutely, absolutely. Well on that note then, as always if you’re interested in connecting with any speakers please do follow them on LinkedIn or simply send us an email to find out more. Our contact details are available in the episode below. Lastly, let me follow my tradition and leave you with this quote, “The past is in your head, the future is in your hand.” Thank you very much for listening and until next time, take care.