Vodafone Ghana CEO to young professionals: Upgrade or be redundant

Chief Executive of Vodafone Ghana, Patricia Obo-Nai, has rallied the youth to give upgrading their skill set serious thought to become indispensable to their organisations lest they end up...

Chief Executive of Vodafone Ghana, Patricia Obo-Nai, has rallied the youth to give upgrading their skill set serious thought to become indispensable to their organisations lest they end up redundant.

The Vodafone Ghana CEO made the call during this year’s International Youth Empowerment Summit (IYES) Virtual Conference hosted by Pastor Brian Amoateng. 

According to her, she started out her career as an electrical engineer but purposed to advance so acquired new skill sets by studying Law, venturing into Marketing and Business Strategic Management.

Ms. Obo-Nai explained she readied herself for leadership role and became head of the Customer Operations Team– running a commercial function which run the company’s fixed business.

She further warned, acquired skills can become obsolete as the world moves at a fast pace. She stressed professionals and the youth must update their skills.

“Automation is happening across the world spanning various fields including Legal, Human Resource (HR) and Finance.” She added at Vodafone Ghana, Machine Learning is already happening noting an algorithm filters applicant seeking employment, paving way for a video selection and recruitment.

She further pointed out that those who went through Curriculum Vitae (CV) without other skill set would be without job. Still at Vodafone Ghana, she submitted “at the back office, there are robots helping the team to respond to customers.”

Given that 45 percent of task will be automated according to a recent report, the Vodafone Ghana CEO noted taxi drivers wishing to be on the Uber platform must learn the use of the app which is an obstacle to old drivers who are not skilled to use the app.

With technology changing literally every two years, “when companies think of redundancy, don’t think your name will not come up unless you are indispensable to the company,” Ms. Obo-Nai stated.

To better prepare herself for advanced roles, Patricia Obo-Nai said “she had to acquire new skills, be conversant with stakeholder engagements, work with lateral colleagues and people above your head.”

In interviewing her for the CEO, she revealed she wasn’t asked about technology nor marketing but how she will execute her role given it was her first time.

As a new employee who’s started earning a salary or been on the job for some time, there’s need to keep upgrading according to Ms. Obo-Nai. She stated whether ready or not, other people were inventing which gave them competitive advantage.

“There’s need to build collaborative relationships especially as more workers operate form home because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our teams at Vodafone Ghana are working in squats without managers but have to liaise and create apps and products. There’s then the need as a worker to influence, to succeed and if lacking, there’s need to build it,” she added.

In being prepared for the ever-advancing work dynamics and automation, Ms. Patricia Obo-Nai touched on five elements.

The Use of Data

Data is being guarded. Telcos gather data as do the courts. Machines are doing the gathering but the greater task is to comprehend and then ascertain what use to have for the data to enhance ease of life. With organisations having massive amounts of data, those who use data effectively will clearly outperform the rest. What organisations need are people who can extract insights from data and know how to turn this into valuable knowledge. Without this skill at work, data becomes completely meaningless.

Tech Savviness

Even legal teams have automated programmes to stimulate variables. Smart phones are powerful tools and should not be used to just watch movies and chat. A determined youth or worker can use the smart phones to subscribe to journals and acquire knowledge as well as read on 3D printing, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and others. Alexa, Siri and GPS in vehicles all show that in homes and at work places, the new reality is here. There’s need to understand the major technology trends to be on top of the corporate game.

Adaptability and Flexibility

It’s rare for an engineer to lead a commercially driven organisation like Vodafone Ghana but it was no longer about the role but the skill sets. Organisations are in need of people who are able to adapt to new job roles, adopt new technology and happy to learn new skills. You cannot survive the New Normal without this skill.

Creativity and Innovation

With new problems such as the COVID-19 requiring the wearing of mask and sanitizing the hands, creatives saw opportunities to leverage, providing masks and sanitisers making money. Creativity is a natural strength which needs to be nurtured. It is not the preserve of creative arts people. Businesses which survive the Corona season are the creative ones. Creativity is a skill that will be increasingly important for jobs and the more it is built, success can be expected in the future job market.

Building Collaborative Relationships

The New Normal brings extraordinary challenges of completing work whilst working remotely or engaging others to deliver new products and services in a restrictive environment. You must have what it takes to build collaborations within and outside the organisation. You need to be that influential and have a network that helps achieve shared objectives, goals and purpose. Do a self-assessment and begin to deliberately develop it as a vital skill.

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