The greatest ever disaster to hit mankind—the unfathomable virus attack—is turning the world upside down! And the worst thought it triggers in our mind is: will I get my earnings this month-end? And what about next month? Many of us are seriously worried about our survival. Read any article, watch any channel, see any WhatsApp message—it’s despair all around.
Numerous sectors are likely to get terribly affected—from apparel to handicraft, from automobiles to mobile phones, from hotels to airlines. Mayhem looks imminent.
Yet we need to survive. Complaining will get us nowhere. The good news is many will prosper post-COVID, as some of us would have reinvented ourselves, pushing procrastination aside.
The most important task is to shield our current job. Whether employers will continue to pay our full salary while we sit at home is a big question. In case we are not doing much, we should ask for additional or new work that can be done from home. Suggest probable new customers, carry out technology search or do data-mining for international opportunities. The possibilities are endless. Based on our inclination and training, we may become more valuable assets and continue getting our salary.
Irrespective of the status of our current job or profession, most of us would need to reinvent ourselves. The world may undergo a metamorphosis. Travel habits, eating out, group entertainment will all undergo modification. We will need to adopt and adapt. Each one of us is unique. We will need to figure out what we can change, where we need to accept, how we can acclimatise and when we can shift.
The world will continue to have seven billion plus people. They would need food, clothing, shelter and other essentials. The demand pattern would, however, vary in many ways; jobs will undergo change and so will skill requirements. Hence, we will need to gain fresh or improved competence.
Here are a few ideas on transforming yourself. Given the lack of current trust in Chinese medicines and food products, some new dimensions of business are likely to flourish. Healthcare, pharmaceuticals, food processing and pisciculture will get a fresh fillip. Getting trained and gaining expertise could open a new vista of opportunities for jobs and entrepreneurship.
Artificial Intelligence and Big Data can be more profoundly used to track customer preferences and consumption patterns. Block chain is another new-age development, with profitable applications in hospitality, logistics and banking. Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are likely to gain prominence with possible government supervision. Why lose out on these new avenues? Gaining skills in these areas do not demand major qualifications or experience profile.
Many of you would have had several years of work experience. Can you use your knowledge and expertise in technology, procurement, sales, marketing, finance, leadership, human resource management or law to advise start-ups, ongoing ventures or SMEs? Based on your learnings, could you think of consulting and mentoring in some of these areas? Once the pandemic is under control, numerous businesses will require support to beat the downturn.
Some of you would call these higher-level skills. Can all of us imbibe them? What about some lower-level expertise? Skill gaps are everywhere. Think of nursing, which has huge latent demand—local and global. Farming is another area. Go beyond the traditional variety, and look at exotic fruits and veggies. Proper selection of seeds and appropriate cropping pattern with scientific irrigation can provide a world of opportunities.
Given our specific likes, expertise, training and abilities, we will need to figure out what can now be done quickly to reinvent ourselves. God has decided to transform the world all of a sudden. This will bring us new vistas of opportunities. As even a child knows what China’s contribution to the virus-catastrophe is, Chinese businesses are unlikely to be trusted the way as before. If so, where will the world source its medicines and other necessities from? India will be the rational choice.
Change is painful, but it is more painful to get stuck in not changing. Corona is a job virus no doubt, but it is also an opportunity for us to gain in this altering world. Please note the darkest hours are always just before dawn.
(Robin Banerjee is MD of Caprihans India Ltd and author of Who Cheats and How and Who Blunders and How. Views expressed are personal.)