Ushering in a new era of learning

This is an exciting and important time for companies to unlearn what they have learnt for so many years in order to adapt to the new normal.
By: | September 9, 2020

If your company is cutting down or putting a stop to learning, you might want to reconsider that. In fact, learning has become even more important and exciting during these disruptive times.

These were the thoughts of leaders and executive educators who converged at EuroCham’s “Leadership Development: World Class Excellence and the New Normal in Executive Education” webinar on September 4, to share insights and challenges their organisations are facing during this crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly ushered in a whole new era of business, work and indeed, learning.

READ: What is the future of leadership development in APAC?

However, the latter seems to have fallen down the pecking order in many organisations around the world as their main priority lies in restructuring and cost cutting to ensure business sustainability.

But Farehana Hanapiah, Vice President, Group Human Resource Management at PETRONAS, believes this is an exciting and important time for companies to unlearn what they have learnt for so many years in order to adapt to the new normal.

“In our industry we are facing a combination of challenges in terms of demand and as a workforce for the future. Fundamentally learning has become more exciting because not only must we look at new ways in improving the results, but also to future proof our leaders,” she shared.

“Learning has become more important now as we need to unlearn what we have learnt for many years. Asian culture is different but it’s not about trade offs. It’s about contextualisation and what works for the culture.”

While the pandemic has further emphasised the need for employees around the world to learn and upskill to adapt to the new normal, the way they do so has to be contextualised to the different regions and cultures.

And one of the ways to do so is to get the people more involved in creating the learning content and delivery, said Michael Haberzettl, Head of Human Resources ASEAN at Siemens.

“One of the keywords that we apply to our learning in this new normal is contextualisation. Obviously every country is impacted differently during the pandemic. So every learning content about leadership during this time must take into consideration the respective context in different countries.

“How we try to offer contextualisation is by engaging our managers and employees in developing and delivering the learning content. To make the organisation a learning organisation, we have a huge network of learning ambassadors and they have engaged those in content development and external learning resources from the eco system,” he added.

While there is a need for learning to be contextualised, Elisa Mallis, APAC Managing Director at Centre of Leadership Learning, believes that the new era of learning will involve more collaboration across people and experts around the world.

“Collaborating and learning from colleagues across the region and the globe is becoming easier. Bringing experts from across the world has also become easier,” she said.

“Most importantly the learning has become more digestible. When we look back, online leadership development will be viewed as two eras – pre-COVID and post- COVID. I think we are seeing some fundamental changes.”

Jukka Majanen, Director, Corporate Partnerships – Executive Education at INSEAD, emphasised the importance for companies not to stop learning.

In fact, learning has never been more important if companies do not want to get left behind by their competitors.

“If your company has put a stop on learning, you might want to reconsider that again. Because right now when your business models are disrupted, your products and services are changing, your competitors are changing,” he said.

“This is where you need to learn even more than ever. And we see the best companies doing that.”