The illustration is made by Anna-Lena Koenig.
Laura Matz, Chief Science & Technology Officer at Merck, was the keynote speaker at the 2022 #wetechtogether conference talking about her career and the power of saying “yes” to new opportunities. Let us share a summary of the key points and ideas that can help you advance and accelerate your career.
We are living in a time of great digital transformation right now. Especially after the covid pandemic, the tech space has accelerated tremendously. This is the perfect time to be in tech – to work in or enter this area. The opportunities are endless.
The power of saying “yes”
Have you ever had the idea to try out something new and/or been unsure, but at least a little curious? Have you said “no” to something new because you were afraid of failing? We say “no” to so many things every day. We say “no” to new opportunities and new ideas. We are often unsure of our abilities and so afraid of failing that it is easier to avoid new things. We are so scared that sometimes we just can’t say “yes.”
It’s easy to say “no.” In fact, it’s the easiest way to deal with life, to avoid unforeseen consequences and possible new responsibilities. We expect the worst and try to do everything we can to avoid it. But when we do that, we simultaneously prevent our development and future success.
Laura gives us a clear but very sensible piece of advice – to say “yes” to things that are unknown. To say “yes” when you are curious but afraid. To say “yes” when you are not sure you are capable (The secret is: you are!). Just one little word can change our perception, our reality, and our lives. And that word is “yes”!
Fundamental upheavals in the labour market change career paths
The evolution of technologies is having a huge impact on people’s careers and the job market as a whole, so you really need to be flexible and open-minded to feel comfortable in the modern world. New job opportunities are opening up every day, and it’s happening so fast that it’s impossible to predict what we can expect in 10 years.
A recent analysis of jobs across the United States shows that most jobs performed in 2018 did not exist in 1940 and close to 60% of jobs done in 2018 had not yet been “invented” in 1940. (Extract from World Economic Report)
According to experts at the Institute for the Future (IFTF), up to 85% of the jobs we will have in 10 years have not yet been invented. That’s why it’s important to understand and embrace the idea of continuous learning. It will simply be impossible to learn a set of skills and apply them continuously. We need to adapt to modern reality and learn something new almost every day.
Cross-cutting skills as key to success
For many positions, there are transferable skills that can help you make a smooth transition. Analytical thinking, problem solving and idea generation, empathy, leadership, active learning and creativity – the list is truly enormous. And all of these skills can not just be learned in school or university and then constantly applied. They are skills that we learn throughout our lives, every day, improving them and adapting them to different situations.
There is no perfect time for opportunities, the perfect time is right now!
You will not have the same opportunities in the future, you need to take them now. Say yes to every opportunity, even if you do not know how to figure it out. Just believe that you will figure it out, and you will.
To sum up:
- Always be willing to learn at every stage of your career.
- Every business is a people business – invest time in relationships and networking.
- Especially if you are not sure you can make it. This is the best area for you to grow.
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