Interview with Mr Wali Zahid – CEO, Skill City
[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=””]Profile:
Mr Wali Zahid is CEO of Skill City. He travels frequently in the South Asia and GCC regions to train and coach senior executives willing to make a difference in their and other people’s lives. With the insight of original thought leaders, Wali has trained thousands of business leaders in over 28 years from Fortune-500 companies. Wali’s signature workshops include Leadership for CEOs, Women in Leadership, Leadership Readiness, Leader Derailment and Train The Trainer (TTT). TTT is in 20th year, with over 1,500 trainers trained in 16+ Asian locations. An accredited profiler from Team Management Systems (TMS), Australia, Wali is authorised to use online TMP psychometric instrument for superior leader performance. Before he set up Skill City, Wali was Country Director, Management Development Services at British Council Pakistan for seven years (2001-2008). Wali has taught MBA courses at IBA Karachi, CBM, Dow & SZABIST and IIU Islamabad. As an academic, he has been an Associate Dean at University of Management & Technology (then called ILM), Lahore. A lifelong learner, Wali has received training in USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Taiwan, Austria and Singapore. He is Member, Board of Governors of PIM (Pakistan Institute of Management), Ministry of Industries. He has been member of UK’s Institute of Directors, Chartered Management Institute, Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development and American Management Association. Wali has also been Team Leader of Prime Minister Quality Award (based on Baldrige Excellence Framework, USA) in Pakistan (2011-13). He has been at BoG of Pakistan Society for Training & Development (2012-14).[/box]
PAKISTAN & GULF ECONOMIST had discussion with Mr Wali Zahid regarding digitization in the prevailing circumstances. Following are the excerpts of the conversation:
Covid-19 has accelerated digitization and virtual workplace. This has been with mixed success. Some firms have used this newly imposed constraint to their advantage and were able to give their workforce some autonomy and reduce office overheads while maintaining their revenue targets. Others found their revenue dwindling and their workforce getting disengaged. Online learning looks desirable on surface: learn anytime anywhere, with optimized costs. However, the reality check is that it has not gained much traction in our country. I remember saying the same thing back in 2003 in an interview in Karachi and the magazine placed an interview with a LUMS Dean who had just an opposite view. The next 10 years proved I was right and online learning in Pakistan did not have that optimistic result my LUMS colleague had forecasted. Much of this can be attributed to our learning preferences and lack of focus and persistence. Dropout rates are worrying internationally, but in our part, the percentage is high. However, online is also the biggest opportunity now. Through MOOCs, the world’s best universities are offering free courses which otherwise could have cost fortunes. I have been working from home for the past 13 years when I retired from British Council. Even during British Council days, we had to resort to WFH just after 9/11 when we had to close our libraries and offices. I have been lucky that I was trained for WFH in peace times while most of our fellow professionals had to cope with WFH suddenly during Covid times. I am sure it would not have been easy – trying to find a peaceful corner at home taking a Zoom call while kids – also at home because of lockdown are causing mayhem. I found that introverts like me had the blessing to cope with lockdowns and WFH with much ease as opposed to our extrovert counterparts who need energy from other people around – which is only possible when everybody shows up at office or factory floor. Digitization could enhance productivity and knowledge retrieval and may provide a device-based seamless customer experience. However, our workforce may face uncertainty and consider that machines will replace mechanical jobs and they may face redundancy. Also there could be skill shortage for digitized workplaces or lack of opportunity for upskilling or reskilling. There’s also an additional threat of data safety and security.
Whether we like it or not, digitization is here and over a period it will find a push, particularly when the digital natives enter into workforce.