Against this backdrop, to help students discover which employability skills to target to increase their chances of landing a preferable position in the banking sector, Career2NextOrbit team asked Mr. Himanshu Misra for the right answers.
About Mr. Himanshu Misra: Himanshu Misra heads the Campus Relations & Academic Interfaces at Axis Bank and has more than a decade of solid experience and a proven track record of demonstrating excellence in his field. In the past, he has also been associated with Citi and ICICI Bank. He holds an MBA in HR from MDI, Gurgaon.
Career2NextOrbit: How do we define Job readiness skills?
Himanshu Misra: Job readiness is the combination of technical knowledge and ability to utilize it to provide effective solutions to address business needs. However, readiness is a transient stage since the role context per se keeps changing. Therefore, it is important that one has a complete understanding of the business environment and is constantly learning & adapting to the changing context.
Career2NextOrbit: Why are they important for B-school students, in addition to the theoretical knowledge which they gain through academics?
Himanshu Misra: Real life business scenarios are quite complex and involve dealing with ambiguity and often requires working with a varied set of stakeholders. There is also a dependency on internal/external factors which could be beyond individual’s control. One is expected to navigate through these complexities and resolve the problem at hand in the shortest possible time and provide efficient solutions. Ability to work in an ambiguous situation with limited and often incomplete information with dependency on various internal/external factors is not a skill which one can acquire through theoretical knowledge. This skill/ability comes by actually working on real life problems and learning from every such experience. This is also one of the reasons why B-schools have case studies, live projects & internships etc.
Career2NextOrbit: What would be the five new era employability skills for Banking sector you would like to share for B-school students?
Himanshu Misra: In an increasingly changing business & regulatory environment, innovation would remain the key focus area for most organizations in order to survive and stay ahead of the competition. This is the era of digital disruption with banks, fintech companies, payment banks all vying for a similar customer base. In such an environment, banks need to continuously evolve their processes, systems and also develop employees in line with changing customer needs and demands. Most organisations including banks require talent equipped with new age skills viz digital agility, data science/analytics, design thinking, cyber risk, and artificial intelligence in addition to core banking skills.
Career2NextOrbit: Why do you think these skills are important in present day context?
Himanshu Misra: As organizations move towards the inevitability of technology enabled & customer driven change, they face a growing imperative to reorient themselves to move faster, adapt more quickly, facilitate rapid learning, and embrace the dynamic demands of customers who have a wider choice available for doing the same transaction today as compared to a decade ago. Leading organizations are moving past the design phase and actively building this new organization to stay relevant. Similarly, individuals are expected to be extremely agile and high on the learning curve at all times to thrive in such situations. The routine jobs would be replaced by AI but at the same time, it would enable people to focus on more creative aspects of jobs like working on the design elements to enhance customer experience, provide valuable insights through data analysis etc. Digitization provides tremendous opportunities for organizations to understand consumer behaviour and analyse patterns which could be used to further bolster the proposition that they provide to a customer.
Career2NextOrbit: How are they different from job readiness skills for Banking sector five years ago?
Himanshu Misra: Over the last decade, the banking sector was focussed on the core banking skills like corporate relationship, trade & forex, treasury, etc. The traditional universal banks are not only facing competition from other banks but also from new age fin-tech firms, small banks, digital wallets, NBFCs and payments banks. This requires completely different thinking, new ways of working and also adopting a mindset that they need to upgrade their knowledge/awareness and working styles to suit the changing times. The magnitude of change seen in the Banking sector in last 5 years is probably unprecedented. There is a new segment of customers who would have probably never entered a branch ever and are fulfilling all their banking needs online. The need now is to shift focus from “incrementalism” and domain expertise to innovation & digitalization. Technology & analytics is now empowering businesses to anticipate customer needs and wants, personalize and enhance the customer experience.
Career2NextOrbit: What are the few advice you would give to present day MBA students towards developing these skills?
Himanshu Misra: They should have high levels of learning agility, adaptability & awareness of the changing corporate world. Technical knowledge is important and so is the need to work with a diverse set of stakeholders towards common goals. One can gain experience on this by participation in live projects and simulations on campus. Additionally, they should strive to acquire some niche skills and build a unique brand for themselves by actively participating in discussion forums, leverage on digital content and build the right networks.
Career2NextOrbit: What are your three recommendations you would like to share with B-schools' Leadership team to make students more employable?
1. Ensure Alignment of course curriculum to the emerging/transformed business requirements; introducing new courses for building these skills
2. Provide industry exposure via industry interactions, conferences, seminars, and create opportunities for live projects/internships
3. Create an environment for students to work in diverse groups to facilitate team work from the beginning; inculcate skills like risk taking and decision making abilities by exposing them to real life business challenges.