Exploring the future of work in Asia-Pacific

29 June 2017

Agility and adaptability to change are the key ‘soft skills’ required to succeed in an ever-changing workplace, UTS graduates heard at a series of panel discussions exploring the future of work across China and Hong Kong in June.

Hundreds of members of the UTS alumni community gathered at international receptions in Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing to hear from some of our most innovative, creative and successful graduates, academics and industry leaders, who shared their insights, stories and advice on mastering the essential skills needed in the jobs of tomorrow.

Henry Sim, CEO of Red Dot Urbanisation Development and one of the guest speakers in Shanghai, said that the rapid economic and urban development of countries like China has resulted in a range of emerging and often new needs and opportunities for the workforce.

"It's essential to keep abreast of current developments across the country, and especially in cities so that we are able to keep pace with change, and identify opportunities for growth – both in business, and professionally," he said.

"In my opinion, change management is key! To do this well, no efforts must be spared in closely tracking market developments."

"It's the ability to adapt, and have an understanding and respect of other cultures that has been essential in my career."

Similarly, Shanghai guest speaker Janet Chan, Director of Luxury Sales for the North Asia Division of global accommodation firm Accor Hotels, said in an increasingly globalised market, learning the ability to adapt and an strong appreciation of cultural awareness is a critical leadership skill required for success.

"For me, it's the ability to adapt, and have an understanding and respect of other cultures that has been essential in my career,” Chan said.

“Having spent most of my life in Sydney, I would say working and living in Cambodia, Fiji and now China are all very different but unique in their own ways. In order to lead coming in as a 'foreigner' you need to earn their trust, and the best way is through effective communication and to lead by example.”

With futurists estimating that 50 per cent of the jobs in 2030 do not even exist yet, and that most people with change careers around seven times in their lifetime, the discussion also highlighted that to be successful, professionals need to be fluent with technology, as well as having a high level of adaptability and excellent problem solving skills.

Both Sim and Chan credited their time at university in providing them with solid practical skills and the critical thinking required to success in the professional sphere.

Sim said the broad experience of his Bachelor of Land Economics has helped him play a leading role in Shanghai’s booming urban development scene, with over 23 million residents in the city, as China sees a shift towards an increasingly urbanised population.

“In my few years of learning with UTS, I really appreciated the comprehensive coverage of topics, as it gave me the required knowledge to understand all aspects of urbanisation as a senior manager,” Sim said.

“What is most memorable is the close attention and practical guidance provided by the lecturers and I think this is definitely one of the main reasons for the success of UTS, who now enjoys a high world ranking among global universities.”

Chan echoed the need for gaining experience with transdisciplinary skills, which she says she found in her degree.

“The tourism management degree has a great balance on both theory and practical. Beside tourism related subjects, it also covered all aspects such as accounting, economy, law, human resources, marketing and strategic management,” she said.

“The practical side enabled me to gain knowledge on operations, and the two full year research projects tied everything together. It allowed me to put the theory into real life scenarios and polished my analytical skills.”

Attendees at the UTS Beijing Reception

See all photos from the event here

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