In this session, four parents from different worlds of work discuss the connection between the world of learning and the future of work. How do we ensure that we are developing innovators? How do we honour differences in our learning styles and capabilities so that all kinds of people enter the world of work with confidence and the ability to bring their unique perspectives to their interactions with others? How do we ensure that our students are able to bring their passion for sustainable ideas and their commitment to an equitable culture to the workplace?
Hosted by Nick Alchin, Head of UWCSEA East, this panel discussion, incorporating questions from the audience, will bring together different ideas and perspectives as we define the future of work.
Nick Alchin: Okay. So people will be joining us now. So we will wait. As people join, I can see the number of participants rising. Welcome, everybody, as you join. Thank you for being with us for this session on the future of work. We'll just wait a moment or two for people to to log in.
Scott Flower: Now about a joke while we wait, Nick.
Nick Alchin: Now, go on.
Scott Flower: You've probably heard you've probably heard this one, but why was the mushroom always invited to parties on the weekend?
Nick Alchin: Tell me.
Scott Flower: Because he was a fun guy.
Nick Alchin: Yeah, I see Jason nodding. He's heard that one before.
Scott Flower: Yeah.
Nick Alchin: Yeah.
Scott Flower: That was my turn over. Over to ... for her joke.
Nick Alchin: Okay. No pressure. Okay, we'll get started. We'll get started. Thanks, everybody, for tuning in. I appreciate it. Saturday morning, or at least it's a Saturday morning in Singapore. It's a Saturday evening, for some people or other times. But we're really grateful to people around the world for tuning in to the UWCSEA forum, where we're at the start of our second day we've had an absolutely extraordinary experience here with for the first time here in Singapore, really being able to get big crowds together for us.
And we've just come out of an inspirational talk by the executive director talking about how we prepare students who are going to be making a difference in the world. Yesterday we heard from Howard Gardner and Andreas Schleicher, world renowned educators and thinkers around the need to prepare students for their future, not our past and so on. And so really one of the one of the things that's emerging is how we look at our mission in a world of work, as well as in a world a world of activism and of inspiration.
So we're really super happy to have parents from four different worlds of work to discuss the connection that they see or maybe they don't see between learning as it stands at the moment and the world of work. How do we know that we're developing innovators? How do we honour differences in learning styles and capabilities so that we're allowing all people to join the workplace, to to flower, to flourish, to bring different perspectives to interactions with others.
How do we ensure that students can bring their passion for sustainability and a commitment to equity to the workplace? And so we're going to be hearing from our audience one of speakers while introducing the moment, and then we're going to be throwing it open to some questions, I'll have some starters, but we'd love to have questions from the audience which will will feed in and we really want to have a discussion here and keep going, a conversation which is started, which will go on many years and decades after today, of course.
But where we can all deepen our thinking. So let me introduce our panellists. Dr. Scott Flower, you want to wave, Scott? Even those who join, who is going to be speaking about the need for neurodiverse learners. He's currently with the Financial Services Sharing and Analysis Center, having previously been head of Risk and Security Research at Deutsche Risk, and he'll be drawing on extensive work and experience working even more widely with government, military, corporate, university and NGO sectors over 25 years.
Scott's a proud parent of a Grade four student. Our second panellist today is Jason Plamondon. Jason joins your wave Jason so you can see Jason joins as a regional sustainability manager from Equinix, a global infrastructure platform provider. After holding many roles at Shell, he'll be sharing ideas around how companies can focus on environmental, social and governance considerations, which are so paramount in today's today's world and how we can connect it to the values that matter to students and to the workforce.
Jason's parents, to Josh and Jake in grades ten, 11, and husband to Lisa, head of grade two in our primary school. So it's a family affair for for Jason and our third panellist is Saumya Sanjeev an alum who's studied in Singapore from 98 to 99. Welcome back, Saumya. Give us a wave so everyone can see if the is full of people that Saumya. Saumya joins us from Capgemini, where she partners with companies to transform and manage their businesses by harnessing the power of technology.
Having previously spent time with Infosys and McKinsey, she'll be talking about the skills needed in the workplace and the issues of technology, equity and sustainability. So warm. Welcome to you all. I'd like to start off by inviting Scott to say 5 minutes around his is his input today and then I'll pass you the other two and then we'll get started with some questions.
Over to you, Scott.
Scott Flower: Thank you very much, Nick, and pleasure to meet all of you. Many I can't see on the screen, but it's great to be invited to be part of a really great panel on a bit and talking about something that really I think is important to all of us, both personally and for our kids. And the future of many kids around the world, I guess.
And I'm coming. It's the future of work from a perspective of someone who's had a very non-linear career path and also recently diagnosed only two years ago with Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Courtesy of my son's diagnosis, I thought I was just a normal person until two and a half years ago, but it was really it didn't obviously any a diagnosis doesn't change anything, but I think it certainly provides a point of reflection and reflecting on my son first and foremost, and then reflecting on well
How is this condition? Is Neurodiverse condition impacted? On my own development, the way I saw myself and the options that I chose as I move through my career. So and to not overinflate over hype the benefits of being neurodivergent and I'll get later on I guess into the description of what this is we're actually talking about later. But, you know, this recent explosion of public discourse around neurodiversity and how it's like a superpower and all of these great things, and that's true.
But I think the overselling and overhyping of neurodiversity hides the parts that are really challenging, both for parents of neurodiverse children. And one of you is responsible for the genes in that child and your child. So it's probably got a connection to one of you. So you know how parents understand their own children from a neurodiverse perspective, but also how we can help children understand themselves and not see themselves as freaks or different or incapable of functioning.
That's that's really important to me. So I'm looking forward to having a conversation with you all hearing questions and chatting about these sorts of aspects of the future of work.
Nick Alchin: Thank you Scott, Saumya, you want to tell us where you are, where your perspective is coming from today, and then we'll get started with some questions after Jason.
Saumya Sanjeev: I think from an alum perspective, I just wanted to share my views on, you know, what are some of the attributes or qualities that everybody must imbibe and build in order to try, you know, in the future? And I would want to reflect some of these qualities, you know, how UWC in particular, help and define and shape those.
And I am a technologist, you know, by profession. I have actually built it. And of course I'm in the industry wearing various hats. So I would also it is a disruption that has impacted us and our next generations. And I would want to probably share my view on, you know, how to brace for the impact.
Nick Alchin: Right? Right. Thank you. Thank you, Jason.
Jason Plamondon: Thanks, Nick. And thanks for the opportunity to be here. It's a great event that the UWC is putting on, so thanks. Thanks again for me. I guess my perspective is coming from the work environment being so much different than it was 25 years ago when I first started out in the oil and gas business. There's a huge recognition now that to attract and retain talent, sustainability has to be central to a corporation strategy and and people, you and me and everybody on this call, we're all driven by a purpose, right?
We all want to feel like we're doing good and we are bombarded every day with opportunities where we can step up and we can contribute. So at the end of the day, organisations, they're just a collection of people like you and me. We're dads, we're moms, we're brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles who want to provide for their families.
But they also want to make a difference in organisations who provide that opportunity for people to to step up and make a difference are going to thrive. So that's kind of my perspective coming into this today.
Nick Alchin: Okay. Thank you. And that's a great that's a great sort of reminder there, isn't it? I think the way you said that about an organisation is just people like us, brothers, sisters, as you said, because I think sometimes when we talk about the world of work, we may imagine these new tech giants or the old industrial giants or whatever it may be.
But it seems so somehow remote and sort of impersonal. And what you've reminded us there really powerfully, I think, and the other two of alluded to it is just the centrality of of human values and of recognizing that we're all people. So perhaps that perhaps I can start and start with the question there then about, you know, what if we go to if we're going to be appealing to so many different people around the world, in a globalised world, you're really talking about being accessible, equitable, equal.
And I think what you wrote earlier, something in our correspondence was about inequality culture. So I'm kind of intrigued to know what you see corporations doing to help students transition from the world of learning then to a workplace, when of course, students around the world are so different and the world is changing so rapidly. So how do we help students with the transition as they join the workplace from a world of education?
Jason Plamondon: Yeah, great question and I look forward to hearing from other folks on the panel answer that one. But I mean, at the end of the day, you want to acknowledge and respect the differences that people bring to your organisation, the transition for students to come into an organisation is tremendous. I appreciate that. We all appreciate that. The one thing that I've seen in the organisation where I'm at today is a huge support for, you know, enabling people to connect, for enabling people to share their differences, to celebrate their differences, and and a huge amount of compassion around people who might be struggling and support for those people.
You know, back when I first started, you just did your work. Nobody really knew what was going on in behind the scenes. You were a guy with a certain kind of personality at work and then you were a different guy at home. Today, it seems like there's a lot more acceptance for those people and who they are at home to be in the workforce.
You know, I have an example that I'd like to share. Just recently a colleague of mine, she was struggling at home and at work and she just put out a message on an employee forum. You know, hey, things are tough. Lots going on at work, lots going on at home. And it was amazing the amount of support that she received from all of those people within that forum.
And I thought to myself, it's excellent that today we have the systems in place not only to share those struggles, but we have a culture that kind of values, that vulnerability. You know, the stigma is gone, it's lessening, it's not gone. And there was so much caring and support in the in the forum. And lastly, we have programs in place to help those people.
So sometimes you just want to be heard and have a little bit of a chat. But we also have the employee assistance programs that are there to support folks like that. So the transition is obviously a big one, but organisations are recognizing it and doing a lot to help.
Nick Alchin: Yeah, yeah. Thank you. I don't know. Saumya from your perspective, what what that means for you in terms of your experience as a as a student at school and your transition, how does that resonate with you hearing, you know, what Jason described as quite a call me, I just got a moving case actually. Someone just put out there the vulnerability and they were supported.
How do you see that as a as something that schools can encourage and build in? So it feeds into that culture and grows it.
Saumya Sanjeev: You know, Jason's part, right. However, in terms of, you know, I can tell you my transition. I came to UWC from a slightly conservative culture. Yeah. And essentially those couple of months while at UWC with the diversity at scale, as I call it, in that one little ecosystem in terms of nationalities, in terms of, you know, different kinds of people and experiences, it kind of transforms you.
It just broadens your mind, right? So the transition actually into the workforce in terms of, you know, it wasn't as disruptive as it could have been had it not gone through, you know, that couple of months. And for me, I think that is important. I think the only thing is we just need to keep making sure we are moving with the times and making sure we have, you know, that diversity that's contributing to this natural balance that's getting created.
Go. That's about it.
Nick Alchin: Yeah. Yeah. Thank you, Scott. I'm thinking this ties quite closely to what we were speaking about just before we went live around the does.
Scott Flower: And I like I like Jason's example as well because it talked about the individual and then took it to the social. And I think for Neurodivergence, when you are neurodiverse people, I think there's a risk for us as educators, but also within the broader economy that we focus on these neurodiverse people and we forget that they're part of society and what we need to do.
It's a it's a two way communication between linear thinking people and non-linear thinking people, you know, neurodiverse and neuro normal people. And it's not just about providing support and education for the people who are neurodiverse, but allowing others to interact with them and understand those people better by educating them as well. Right. So I really like that start point that Jason put us on.
But speaking to directly to transitions, the concept of moving from one place to another, from high school to university or to workforce. I think for neurodiverse individuals, this is a really big challenge because whether you have ADHD or autism spectrum disorder on it, on a huge continuum, it's very diverse. But what often these people struggle with and I struggle with personally day to day, is executive functioning and working memory now.
So when you talk to me about transition, I have trouble moving from one thing to another, and my son does too. So when he's reading a book, he's hyper focused because that's another angle of ADHD, is hyperfocus or distracted. It's a binary kind of thing. So this concept of transitioning at a macro scale from I've had a routine where I go to school, my classes are clear every day.
I know what I'm doing every day. This period, this period, lunches at this time moving into the workforce or university where it's completely unstructured that is really, really hard. Right. So I think in terms of what the skill, the broader skill sets behind the scenes we need to look at, it's really about, well, how do we, for all of our students, not just Neurodiverse students, but teaching them that you've been in this world for 12 years, learning, being educated from the top down kind of thing, and that's not going to be there when you leave here at the end of your GCSEs or IBs or whatever it is, it's different and we need to prepare
them for that transition in a very big conceptual way and a very operational way So I think, you know, it's not just neurodivergent people who have struggled with executive function and planning, everyone does when they leave high school. Right. And I think there's having some curriculum element around that transition, I think would be very valuable for all students, not just neurodiverse students.
So I think, yeah, that's sort of like to say that about transition at least.
Nick Alchin: Yeah. And I think, you know, framing it, framing it that way is something that as educators we often think, which is if you cater for vulnerable parts of the population, such as, let's say, a neurodiverse group, actually the best way to coach them is often just to do everything better. It's not actually to single them out as different.
Quite often good practices are good practices and they will benefit the most vulnerable more perhaps than some other communities. But actually some of it's just good practice. So so let's follow that up for a minute with with neurodiversity, because you've mentioned two populations that maybe are autistic spectrum and maybe ADHD, which are both broad, broad categories, of course.
But do you want to say a bit more about neurodiversity as an idea and how and why it might be relevant to the future of work? And then let's hear, hear Jason and Saumya sort of respond in their context around what neurodiversity might bring if we perhaps embraced it more than we do currently.
Scott Flower: Yeah, for sure. I mean, a lot of my anecdotes or whatever I talk about today is very much about ADHD because I live with it and my son has it and there are many different aspects of neurodiversity. So ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder is just two of those. We also have Tourette's syndrome. Only about 1% of the Neurodiverse population have Tourette.
So it's a small thing, but still a very important dimension, but really dyscalculia is one of the other ones, dyspraxia and dyslexia. They're very significant in terms of neurodiverse people. And so then the labels, if you want to call, say, the labels of different conditions, the neurodiversity that sets the labels or the labels for dyspraxia as well, that's related.
It's a developmental coordination disorder. It's no longer dyspraxia. So that covers all of the different labels. But I guess, you know, what does it mean? There are community of people. Often there's a very high incidence of comorbidity. So for example, kids and adults who have ADHD, about just, just over 50% of those people who are diagnosed ADHD have at least one other comorbid condition.
So they might have dyslexia and ADHD, they may have Tourette's, ADHD, ASD, ADHD. So I mean these are these are quite complex. I don't even like to use the word disorder because I feel I'm a disordered person, you know, having had much joy and success in life. But it is a condition but I think yeah. So very distinct that you can say well this group or cohort of people in society had very unique conditions.
And it's not just about the way they think creatively, which is relevant to the future of work, but it also brings in very interesting aspects of sociality. How do they interact with other human beings so their disorders or their conditions mean they interact very differently. They communicate quite differently because they conceptualise things differently, right? And language is just a form of structure.
It's just a form of syntax, of sets, of grammars that so the way they think obviously has an impact on communication as well. So that's what unifies this neuro diverse community, regardless of their disorder or challenge. Now, just to put some numbers around it, how, why, why am I even passionate about it? It's not a small fringe issue.
Just over 7% of the world's population has some form of neurodiverse condition and that's based on the largest ever metro analysis of over 170 studies done. That study was in 2015, the most recent. But I mean, this is a very significant issue because regardless of what race you are or what religion you are, this is distributed statistically, evenly and equally.
To Jason's point about equality and inequity, this this set of disorders doesn't discriminate. It hits everyone regardless of color, creed, belief. And I think that's why this is important as a topic and for the future of work. We now live in a post-industrial age where innovation and disruption is key. That's where the whole the whole digital economy, it's all built on this disruption and this innovation and transformation.
Now, it's actually non-linear thinkers, neurodivergent thinkers. When you do some rough numbers and I have people like Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, and they are yeah. Names we're familiar with, but with ADHD or dyslexia, you know, and they struggle in lots of parts of their lives. Yes. They may have become famous for whatever their field was, but in their own personal life and looking at the whole human, that's an important issue.
They are, I think so understanding these you know, to go to Jason's point in his example, this person who no longer needs to hide their personal self in the workplace, they can feel comfortable being themselves in their work environment that is different. And so therefore we need to calculate for and account for this diversity in the personal life, which brings fruits into the employment place, into their job, to be disruptive, to think creatively differently, and then businesses benefit from that.
But that's too over romanticised because they struggle as well.
Nick Alchin: It is really a win win here, isn't it? Because these people will feel invalidated and perhaps if previously excluded, it's good for them, obviously. And there's a social moral piece there, but it's also good for everyone because people it will benefit businesses too. So mean it's a win win overall. So what's your what's your experience then and what's your sort of thoughts on the future of work as it as, as Scott said in terms of embracing and seeing the benefits for individuals and society and business overall, if we can embrace the neurodiverse populations.
Jason Plamondon: So who is that addressed to? Oh, sorry. Go ahead.
Nick Alchin: Sorry, Jason. Go ahead. So I first got.
Jason Plamondon: Oh, okay. Yeah, sure. Thanks. So, I mean, kind of stepping back a second and thinking about how our organisation thinks about sustainability because that's what we're talking about on the social side. I mean, so social sustainability is really about promoting wellbeing, right, for people at work and at home. It includes their quality of life, it includes equality, equity, social cohesion and diversity and diversity.
When it comes to neurodiverse folks, funny story. I mean, I didn't even know what neuro diverse meant as a concept. I heard about it a few weeks ago when I first met Scott in our preparation for this panel session and then that week at work on the Employee Network Forum, someone was sharing some of their struggles as a neurodiverse person and I just thought it was interesting that I at 40, almost 48 years old, I had never heard of the concept of Neurodiverse.
I learned about it and then that that very week someone shared a story about their struggles, about being in an organisation and, and being ADHD as well. So I thought that was cool. But at the end of the day, in our corporation as an example, there is an employee network, there is nine. Actually, employee networks and they promote developing these networks.
There's the Faith Connect, there's Black Connect, there's Indigenous Connect. There's a lot of them. I'm not sure if there's a Neurodiverse Connect. There might be. But the point is that there are networks of people with similar struggles, similar backgrounds, cultures, and they can share. And just having these networks available helps people feel like, you know, they're safe, they're included, they belong.
Yeah. So, I mean, maybe I'm kind of mumbling on a bit, but the point being, organisations are recognizing the importance and and of diversity how important it is to their organisation. And they're embracing that and trying to find ways to to bring it, you know, bring the advantages of having those diverse employees.
Nick Alchin: Yeah. Thank you. No, you're not mumbling at all. And it's wonderful that organisations are doing this. They're being the change that we need to see. So what's your what's your experience of this and and your thoughts on it for the future of work?
Saumya Sanjeev: In terms of what I see in particular, you know, various facets and ways, ways to look at diversity, you know, fuels innovation. As my co-panelist suggested. And actually speaking in our industry, innovation is an asset, you know, and you also sell it as a concept. It's a business as well. So when we actually package this exchange, we run some of our innovation ideation sessions.
We have various facets of people behind the scenes. Of course, we actually make sure that we don't kind of call it out or create groups so that, you know, people are not self-conscious in some sense, but we try and play on everybody's strengths to actually bring something that would wall us and of course, you know, society and customers at large.
But and there are conditions that we know, you know, when put sensibly in the workflows, can actually bring out different attributes. So we know, I mean, without giving too much detail, but, you know, we know that there is this person who is who is not able to function particular way but is very creative. See, you know, in a conference setting, you know, rather than being just a transcriptor
he actually sribes and he draws out, you know, the conversations at large. And that's a very good tool for synthesis, you know, for example, of ideas. So that's how that's one of the ways that we try to learn, you know, bring it along.
Nick Alchin: So I think that the theme there isn't it is, is adapting the organisations to the individual rather than always assuming the individual has to adapt to the organisation.
Saumya Sanjeev: Which is exactly.
Nick Alchin: That's a that's a person centred organisation, isn't it.
Saumya Sanjeev: Actually, that's.
Nick Alchin: We've got an interesting question here on the chat. One of my colleagues actually here here at UWC has said as a unit university advisor, I work with students each year who see their educational path and career path as a straight line with limited obstacles. So I suggest a linear sort of approach when I try to talk about the fact that life was zig and zag and that they should be prepared for change in transitions.
I get the sense they don't believe that it's going to happen to them. And how can we present the information? And he's asking, how can we be convincing and help students really embrace that thing and not necessarily think right? And I can think of an example myself that the student who says my parents were doctors, I know I'll need to be a doctor, I need to study chemistry, whatever it may be, and that frame of mind, which is very much perhaps history now or certainly becoming less common, we do sometimes see it at school.
And I think he's he's talking about the psychology of convincing people that it's a bit different. Do you have any thoughts or advice on that from your experiences?
Scott Flower: Dissonance is not a problem of youth. Dissonance is a problem of humanity. And I think really, how can you relate to something if you haven't experienced it? So I think the challenge as an educator or a mentor for younger people is we need to take them there, whether that be through a simulation, a really cool tech platform that Sammy has developed, you know, that takes them on the life journey or whatever.
And they choose your own adventure to use the choose your own adventure books. Right now, actually, you can go to page 51 or 72, 85, and I don't like the end of that story. I'll go back. But I think this that we have to bridge the dissonance because when you're young, you're indestructible, you think you know everything, you're never going to get old.
And we don't want them to age. We don't want them to think that, you know, they've got to become adults because you should enjoy your youth. I still am. I haven't grown up yet, you know what I mean? So that I think we that's the key to this is if we want to explain to them, we have to really kind of get them, really take them.
They're in a way psychologically immersed. I mean, well, this is what really is going to life is going to be like and most of it's mundane and boring, but there'll be choices and and you can take a non-linear path if you follow what your passion is, for example, you will be good at it. Now, schools have a problem in that you've got to make these building blocks, you've got to do this course to go to that course.
And and that can be problematic, especially for Neurodiverse people, because they're already there potentially, and they're bored and then they be disrupted. So but I think for the general populace, the total population, we need to remove this dissonance through new technology, through, you know, relationships with people who have been there, who have had a nonlinear life or, you know, and also final point, focus on their skills and their character.
So one of the core personal skills or if they're if they're, you know, caring for others, well, okay. What industries are you are you rewarded greatest for being caring and thoughtful of others to the person who's just interested in doing the maths and cutting a quick trade? Okay. Jp morgan So you kind of think through the quant thing, fine, you don't need to be good with people there.
So focus on that. That's a passion, but help them understand the relationship between so themselves, their qualities, not just what A or B or C they got in whatever subject. The bigger picture them as individuals, their strengths from a personal qualities as well as their intellect, and then they can take that zig zag path, I think. So that's that's all I could really add there.
Nick Alchin: Thank you, Saumya Yeah. So is a tech platform the solution.
Saumya Sanjeev: May just be you never know.
Nick Alchin: Know.
Jason Plamondon: Maybe I'll just chip in if I could. Nick Yeah. So I mean, building on what Scott was saying, I think if I, if I think of the lifelong learning journey that we're on, right. So an industry we continue to learn, we're taking courses all the time and a key kind of enabler of that learning is centred around case studies, right?
So we do lots of case studies, learning from people who have gone through experiences, having speakers come in, share a life experience or whatever. So I mean, as a, as an educational institution, I guess case studies are, are a good example of how you can share that kind of learning with your students. It's not so technical, but I'm kind of a traditional kind of guy.
And, and as an example, I mean, as an individual myself who came from a really small town in northern Alberta, Canada, and I'm sitting in Singapore on a panel with these awesome folks talking about neurodiversity and sustainability. I mean, that is definitely not a straight career path. And, you know, having people like the folks on this panel come into the school as kind of an organised session for the students to hear from experienced individuals who've had those non-linear career paths, that might be a cool, cool opportunity.
Nick Alchin: Yeah. So we're really modelling it and letting people see that that's what's happening already and undercutting perhaps some of the assumptions that. Okay, thank you. I'm going to go on to another question here from or you go to which is about well-being in the workplace and indeed in schools. And the question is, in order to enhance the socio emotional well-being of people, shouldn't we be rethinking the extent to which schools and workplaces set high expectations for students and workers in terms of performance?
So a challenging question that really cutting to the heart of high performance organisations, which is almost a sort of an assumption, perhaps that we often have let's try and do things really well. There's a really fundamental question about what we're trying to achieve in organisation. So a really high level future work question. So we start with some. Yeah.
What are your thoughts on that? That's a very challenging question.
Saumya Sanjeev: It is indeed actually true.
Sorry, can I go next if.
Nick Alchin: It needs a bit of thought, doesn't it, because it's a it's such a wow what to make of it sorry to spring on you. But there it is. Go, Scott or Jason chip in.
Scott Flower: I think Saumya was already under pressure when they asked her to do a joke before we went live. Nick you're doing it to her twice in one call Not really good. But I mean, I think it's a brilliant question and it is a really deep one. And with that deep question in my mind, I'm thinking there's a simple answer actually.
It's about alignment and it's about whoever you are. You will know if you can step back from yourselves. And that's a process to learn. But think about what you really love. An organisation shouldn't have to with you and drive you and KPI you into the ground to get the best out of you and for you to feel like you're doing your best.
And, you know, I think if if people in the organisations can make sure they align, people, their core interests, what they love to do and they they don't feel like it's work anymore. It's just what their passion is. Then it's much, much easier to be happy and successful in the workplace. So and we all have to do jobs that we hate at some point.
We all have to. And that's part of also learning and finding and calibrating your way through it. But I think that is a really important message we need to make clear to students, but also to the adults in the workforce, is if you're not happy in work and you're struggling to perform, you may want to reconsider what you're actually doing.
And that may be taking that zig zag, taking a risk in you. Actually, I always wanted to be a dancer and a dance instructor. Okay. If that is what's going to make you happy and perform at your best, then that's what you kind of probably need to do. If you can do that in a small way because you can't.
You have to transition, right? You can't just go from being that quantum JPMorgan and then, you know, you're teaching ballet. You can't do that because you need to have an income to survive. But there will be a way to build your path to what you want to do and be happy doing it. And I think that alignment is key.
It's a nice, simple concept to take away when we're looking at the social welfare aspect of this, because that's very individual, it's very subjective. But as long as the person for themselves asking that question in themselves will get there, you know what I mean? We don't have to do the organisational heavy anymore.
Nick Alchin: Yeah, but there's enough is enough diversity in the workplace that it's just finding the right fit, really. Okay.
Jason Plamondon: Absolutely. And Nick, if I could add onto that, a lot of the work that I've done in my career has around risk, right? And mental wellbeing is a is can be treated a bit like risk, right? The risk of someone being unwell. And so there are preventative measures and there are recovery measures. And when you think about the preventative measures, Scott's absolutely right when you think about alignment.
Right. And, and organisations are getting a lot better at getting that alignment, much like your teachers, right. We also have goals and performance assessments on a quarterly basis which basically say, here's the goals and performance expectations that we agree on and we'll check in every quarter on how you're doing. So that alignment is a preventative measure to impacts to your mental health.
And then on the recovery side, organisations have also gotten a lot better at providing things like employee assistance programs or we have a fund actually that our employees can contribute to that actually goes towards donations to employees who are having hardships. Right. So someone who's going through a tough time can apply for that fund, which is fully funded by the employees and matched dollar for dollar by the corporation.
So there's preventative and recovery. And another thing that just comes to mind is when I was with Shell, I was a trained mental health first responder and there were several of them throughout the organisation. I mean, who would have heard of that sort of thing 20 years ago? So those types of recovery measures are examples of how you can deal with the wellbeing issue.
Nick Alchin: Yeah, and as you say, it's such a transformation in the workplace from from 20 years ago. As you say, these acronyms gaps wouldn't have been just around at all the thinking behind them, but now they're commonplace. So very, very positive. The and I'm thinking we've gone from there, it's quite specific, if you like, around around things. And I wonder if we might sort of broaden out a little bit to ask you just a very general question, which we can approach in so many ways because yeah, the title of this session is The Future of Work.
So one of the questions is that, you know, prep, as we thought about this, was what is the future of work? And that's such a big question, Howard Gardiner raised it. Yeah, I'd just like to rather raise yesterday. I said, maybe the future is actually more a future of leisure, and we should be talking about the future of lives, not the future of work or the future of leisure, but the future of lives.
Well, what's your thought around this? I think it ties into what we're all saying here, around around organisations, fighting humans, around looking at employee needs, about the corporations using KPIs to fit people rather than force them. So what's your thought around the big, big trajectory that you're seeing in workplaces over your over your time in the workplace? Let's just open it and give it a one minute to speak when they're ready on that.
One is a big question.
Scott Flower: You know, Nick, I think it's a hugely deep and problematic question because what we have is a legacy economic structure globally. And until we reconceptualize how humans generate and store and exchange the value they produce, then we're not going to be able to transition much from what we currently have because there's a significant and growing inequality of wealth in this world.
And that concentration is affecting the ability for billions to have the potential to realize what the, you know, the individual skills qualities actually are. So without the economic structure and this is sounds like a new revolutionary, right? I'm not I'm very much you know, I've got a Ph.D. from the School of Economics and Government in Australia. Like, I'm a very straitlaced guy, but when you really dove into the numbers, we had a problem here, a very deep structural economic problem.
And you know, you say, well, where's the future of life? Well, if you can't generate income to buy food or pay rent or well, guess what? All of those robots that steal jobs or yeah, there's going to be few technicians to fix the robots. So there's going to be a few coding types who want to reprogram the robots, etc., who are taking many of the jobs.
But I think really long term we are going to have to solve this problem of how do we as humanity develop a structure that accounts for the creation of value, the exchange of value, the storage of value in a way that's equitable and allows us to have these lives without work because that is actually where we're going at some point.
And that is some sort of utopia, hopefully not dystopia with Big Brother in the way the convergence of technologies, of the isolation of the Internet, all these big, big problems. Right. But I think that's the heart of it. And from there, once we figure that out, we can have an amazing future potentially. But there are worrying signs about where it can go to dystopia as well.
And the short the short sort of ten year span is there's going to be a revolution at work. We don't know where it's going, but I can tell you we're probably going to there will be less jobs relative to population.
Nick Alchin: Yeah, I mean, we do Jason's research, all the sort of transformation he's seen in the in his time. And some of your your work is is around transformation. That's that's kind of how you are helping companies to transform obviously digitally is a focus and so on. But I think maybe maybe maybe that question around the future of work for you, we could couch it very specifically around what are you helping people transform from and what are you helping them transform towards because it's it's your daily bread and butter, isn't it?
So tell us a bit about what you're doing there.
Saumya Sanjeev: So, so in terms of, you know, we obviously look at it from a business perspective. We are obviously looking at transforming companies which are in different trajectories and different facets and phases stages. However, however, you know, the transformation. Sorry.
Nick Alchin: Just that's all right with you. It's we're all here in the morning. Let me ask it more specifically, perhaps because because it's such a broad question, isn't it, that it's very hard to it's very hard to to sort of address it at the highest. Well, what's hard for companies in their transformations? What are you seeing? That's why they're coming to you.
What is it that they're trying to do that they need help with? That's not happening naturally.
Saumya Sanjeev: Yeah. So I mean, the complexity and the, you know, the problems that we solve for our companies, of course, are very different and actually it's it's symbiotic with phases of life. And if I may, you know, so one of the sectors I'm focused on, for example, and we are trying to help embrace from an innovation perspective, is, is tackling two very, very causes that are topical to our lives, the debts and the impact of the government of the pandemic.
And second, you know, the ageing population essentially because of these two issues, you know, this particular business is not able to sustain, you know, and protect. Right. So essentially, how do you brace for this is a natural transition of life. And we believe life is all life is balance and nature right essentially. And that is practically the future I see.
I can view looking for a convergence when it comes to, you know, the work and the boundaries between life and work are blurred essentially.
Nick Alchin: Yeah. And I mean what you said there are two we were talking about change, but you just mentioned two things there which are going to impact everything we do, obviously the pandemic, but demographics, the demographic changes in many countries for an ageing population, for example, will just be so hugely impactful that that the changes are inevitable. So I think what you've reminded us there is just the complexity and interconnected nature of things.
I wonder, Jason, you know, if I can follow up with you that because I'm interested that, you know, you have had work with one of the big global biggest companies, The World with Shell. And you said how much it's transformed. I wonder if in terms of transformation, you can tell us because for some of us I'll me back then perhaps I've just got this wrong but I kind of in my mind I realised I saw Shell as kind of, if you like, part of the old world, if you like, and your apple Google take as part of the new.
And I think that's probably a mistake on my part, though. So what have you seen in terms of the Giants transforming, you know, from from what was an industrial model to a looking to too much a much greener, more sustainable future and more perhaps we can get into the topic of sustainability, which I know is a close to all of our hearts too.
So what's your thoughts on that?
Jason Plamondon: I mean, huge amount of change in Shell Oil over the 23 years that I work there, right? Indeed. They were a very traditional kind of dinosaur company or that's how people view them even today. But I've seen tremendous amounts of change in all of the things that I've been discussing today. The things that I've been discussing today are not only things that are in the company that I work for today, which is a digital infrastructure company.
But there are things that Shell is also doing before I left and have been doing for some time, going back to the the kind of what work is in the future, I think it's purpose centred work and the whole pandemic which Sonia alluded to, kind of allowed people to refocus themselves, take a step back. They got a bit of a breather.
They're at home with their families. They recognized, you know, maybe it doesn't have to be, you know, work to live. Maybe it is more about live to work. And so for me, my personal belief is the future of work is purpose centred work. And if I think about my career, I took a marketing degree, right? I thought I was going to be an advertiser.
I was going to walk into boardrooms and sell them commercials. And just like in the movies, right? That was my big plan. And I did that for a couple of years with Shell on the marketing side of our downstream business. But it was a very short time, five years it took for me to realise that this was not a lot of purpose.
I mean, selling fuels and lubricants to industrial customers, not a lot of purpose there. So I actually made the jump to our upstream business and became the liaison between our communities that we were impacting with our activities and the people in the boardroom who were coming up with all the plans to drill wells, to put in pipelines. And that for me gave me a lot of purpose.
It was like, okay, now I can I can communicate what's going on in the community, how they're impacted into our boardrooms so they understand, so that they can put in place mitigations, avoidance to to to deal with those issues. And so that for me, purpose centred work is the future of of work for sure.
Nick Alchin: Okay. Thank you. Yeah. Powerful. Have a mission. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Sam Scott, we'd like to. Either of you like to comment on that one. What do you think? Having a mission?
Scott Flower: I think I'm wondering how Jason spied on my and figured out my background in life like that. Yeah. When I look back regardless and I've had very diverse jobs so, and I didn't go so well in high school and I really didn't get into university, went into the military for four years. And that was a very distinct kind of job, right?
Bombing stuff with artillery is not very useful in civilian life, but all the skills I learned that allowed me to transition into a different career, which is mountain gliding in New Zealand for 10 years and work and rescue team completely different skill set. And then and then I spent after doing some study as a mature age student, I worked as a spy in the Australian Government for three years before then going on to do a Ph.D., becoming an academic.
And now I reskilled again. And now I'm in cybersecurity. What the common thread is across the 30 years since I left high school is the mission. I've always had a mission. Whether it was in the military with a small team of people with a very clear task, or whether it was guiding with 1 to 1 with a client, you know, on the rescue team or whether it was working as a as an intelligence analyst, an officer, whatever it was, there was very clear mission that I had and that drove me.
And it didn't feel like work because I was just doing what I love do. And I knew I had an impact because I had a purpose. And I was I was built for that purpose because I self-selected. I had a bias, you know. And again, looking back, my ADHD helped me do that. As a psychiatrist said to me when he diagnosed and he said, My goodness, you're just all over the place, how do you do that?
And I said, Well, I just went with what I wanted to do. I followed where my purpose was, and I just knew I needed to do that. So I reskilled, I retrained, and then I did it and I did it and I loved it and it didn't feel like work anymore. And then when I got bored of it, probably because of my ADHD, again, at some point you get bored.
Then I went, No, I actually want to do something completely different. And for the parents out there, because I've got my parents sitting over here listening to me today, they're going home back to Australia tonight. But as parents you have such an important role to play because for children to take risks and take the non-linear path they need to feel secure, they need to feel attached, they need to feel love regardless of the outcome, and they need to feel it.
Yet you're not being a loyal like I am or whatever I was there. I don't really care what you want to do. Lovely daughter or son. Just do what you want. Be happy and you will excel and that that's a double edged thing for parents, because we know and I'm looking at the questions in the column here, you know, how do we prepare students going into debt entry is dead angel.
Well, don't worry about that so much. Just get them to they will figure that out. But we have to make them feel supported and loved regardless of their choice. If they're good at it and let them go to that because they have found their mission and found their purpose and just enable them and support them and make them aware of the downsides of taking the risk because they are down.
Don't overplay all this beautiful utopia, but say, yeah, you know, if this doesn't go right, there's a cost to that as an extra year study to recalculate or calibrate or whatever. So yeah, I think that's a big part of this is children, yeah, they're being educated to work, but again, that they're human beings, the whole complete units and parents have a massive role to play in supporting the children from an emotional wellbeing perspective to then take the risk, you know to grow so not be wrong and not a fan of Ken Robinson as I'm sure all the educators here are.
You know, we need to stop saying no, you can't be a dancer that won't pay. No, you can't be an artist. Even though you may be the next to win. She doesn't matter. It won't give you the job that you need. We will. That's the next transition to parents, not just the education system. We can't lump it all onto you guys.
Nick, we have some responsibility here. We are accountable here. We can't say, oh, you should be teaching that in the class. No, and I'm great for my parents. But regardless of whatever happened in Under-performed in high school, shot the pants off them when I went to university 13 years later. Right. But they they actually gave me the confidence.
Right. I knew if it went bad, I can just go home. Oh, yeah. You know what I mean? And that's safety. And security is something that you can't pay school fees for, you know what I mean? So Yeah, I think that's the bit that I would say.
Nick Alchin: Yeah, we're circling back there, aren't we, to turn to the fundamental humanistic thing, the fundamental thing that people have to come first and connection and love from our families and connection with our people is at the root of it all. So so tell me, what's your thought around our our mission and around finding your your role in the world?
What are you seeing in the workplace and in your own life with regard to that piece around the purpose and the driven sort of intention are to make a difference to whatever it is.
Saumya Sanjeev: So I think just to build on Jason's point, what purpose and mission, I think, you know, that, of course, that that is a you know, that shouldn't be a given. But unfortunately for some it isn't. But if the mission and the purpose gives you a little bit of room to family, you know, kind of keeps you to the ground and humble, but it has to be complemented with resilience and grit because in order to survive and thrive, you need that right.
And of course, you need to keep your feet on the ground. And that's where the purpose and the mission gives you that anchor your family.
Nick Alchin: Yeah. Yeah, that's right. So you're really talking about the skills and the qualities, which is which I'm I was thinking about that it's very much linked to other points around all the things that we do that are different though. They rely on a foundation, a bedrock which will be transferable to others. Yeah, thank you. But let me know is put a question in the chat that I think everyone can see and you've addressed that a little bit partly there, Scott, in what you said, one of the things that this is the world work we've talked about is about how do we prepare and support students in fields which may be a dead end or so
on or replace and just like you talked about this yesterday, what do we do? How are we getting the truck drivers which a massive industry ready for the automation of trucks if that happens in a decade or so, as he said and for a minute, I want to sort of if you not talk about schools, we talk about those a lot.
I'm more thinking about structural things in the world of work because this is this is the future of work. It's allowing people to do what we've just said, to drop, to go between one and the other profession or work over their lives. And I don't think that we should underestimate what you've just said there, Scott, around the security and the connection.
But at the same time, it's not just that there have to be structural things in place. So as employers, yourselves or working in organisations, how do you think about ensuring that you or your colleagues or whoever it may be can make the changes? How do organisations take responsibility for preparing workers to split to swap fields? Because it's almost self-defeating.
You're always preparing people to leave you, but at the same time, you know, you want to accept people from other professions. So you always have a duty to prepare people to go into those professions. You know, that's a systemic thing that maybe is a legacy thing. As you mentioned, Scott, we have a system that's not designed for that.
But how are you seeing that? What are your thoughts on on how we can do that structurally as organisations to prepare people for the mobile future, which we think is ahead of them? Jason, what would you start us off? What do you think?
Jason Plamondon: Yeah, really interesting question. And I know if I go back to what got in place in the company on that now, but also at Shell previously, you know, it's called an individual development plan. So apart from your goals and performance assessment that, you know, talks about alignment on what you're going to achieve in the year and how you're going to get there, and the KPIs and all of that.
We have these individual development plans that aren't specific to what you're doing, the work you're doing, but it's more around your interests. What do you want to achieve? What are you interested in? And these individual development plans are updated on a biannual basis and talked about with your manager. It basically says, Look, I'm here in the organisation, but I'd like to be over there and there's a lot of support for that.
And if, you know, I don't want to sound kind of like I'm tooting your horn, the IWC, but this whole idea that you guys have of lifelong learning. Absolutely right. And organisations who embrace that and support their employees to do that lifelong learning and continue to pursue advancement or doing things that they're interested in, those organisations will thrive.
Those are the organisations where the best employees will come to and they'll want to stay.
Nick Alchin: Yeah. So taking the big picture. Taking the big picture. Absolutely. Thank you, Sam. What do you what do you organisation doing? Face and I know we've got a couple of minutes left, so we'll wrap this up in a minute. But I really interested to hear your thoughts on on that bigger piece there.
Saumya Sanjeev: I think building on what Jason started, you know, of course, we will talk about career paths, which is based on your piece as well as priority, you know, in life. And, you know, we complement that with a structured mentoring program. So, you know, even though even though people might be in different facets of life, you know, and have different preferences, but sometimes they get limited, you know, very soon.
So at that point in time, there are mentorship programs that actually take, you know, walk you walk you through all the options and permutations and combinations in terms of the future that you can have, you know, potentially with the company. Or they actually make you also go through some meditative techniques to understand where you would want to be, right?
And if there's a convergence. So there's a very holistic way to kind of guide and bring it all together. And I think that is that is working out quite well, actually.
Nick Alchin: It's saving.
Saumya Sanjeev: You.
Nick Alchin: So it sounds like you two are in companies that really take it a really personal note, organisational view, it really, really tailored to your individual sort of aspirations.
Saumya Sanjeev: To get the best out of you.
Nick Alchin: Yeah. Scott asked you to give us a final word on this, and then we'll we'll wrap it up. What's your.
Scott Flower: Thought? He said you you said we can to the horn here. So I'm going to do that. So and I do it, I guess, with a bit of a personal interest and bias. You're right, Jason. And so you talk about the like you mentioned the mentor program, but that requires investment, right? Investment. It's not just talking, but it needs money because if they're not working, then they mentoring, which means there's a gap of work being done.
Right. So you need investment in these capabilities. You've got to spend money to get the value. You don't just get it for nothing. Loading more on top of someone and I know my son used to go to this amazing after school enrichment class and it was forget it was called critical mass investigations. This guy is I don't know if he's still at the school, but it was running the top of the building at Dover.
And he would bring in children who had, you know, neurodiverse issues, whether they had ADHD or autism spectrum disorders, whatever. And he would teach them in a personalised way, in a way that Sammy is talking about. It's individualised. You know, like Jason mentioned, his company has got an individualised goals and learning program. Well, unfortunately, the this lab got closed down about a year ago, I think roughly.
And it was it was like a dagger to my son's heart because as a child with learning challenges, that was one of the reasons why I loved going to school. Otherwise he'd get up every morning and say to me today, I hate going to school. I mean, it's one of the best schools in the world he could go to.
Right. What do you say to your son who's going to one of the best schools in the world and that thing that the only thing that he wanted is gone? I it would be personally and I'm pushing my own political barrow here. I'll be transparent about it. But things like that, that which is an investment from the school because obviously you want to scale it, you want to have efficiency.
But if we really want to do justice to neurodiverse people, we do need to spend. We need to invest in this mentorship. It's to address that person who asks the question, how do we help them transition or cope with dead end jobs? Or whether it's just getting the best out of people in alignment? We need to we need to make sure we have these extra bits that we tack on and make them available.
Not to everyone. Not everyone will want to go to the lab and do stem extra STEM stuff because that's what they geek out on. They'd rather just do the curriculum and go home in the afternoon. And for those kids who are neurodiverse and don't function so well socially in the bigger groups because they're shy or embarrassed or are afraid of their giftedness because they don't want to be special, they just want to be a normal, regular kid.
Then, you know, we need to visit that and invest in it. Just like the mentorship program Selma mentioned, like the individualised growth plans. Sounds like a growth plan that Nic sorry that Jason mentioned. We need to do that in schools, too. And we need to we're trailing industry here. We need to get ahead again. We need to at least be on the same path.
But yeah, I think that's what we need to invest in it.
Nick Alchin: Thank you, everybody. We're out of time. But you know, what's what's emerging for me here is such a sense of synergy, of aspiration as you as you said, Scott, you know, maybe we're not where we want to be yet, but it's conversations like this that allow us to hear as educators what's happening in the world and reflect and think about how we need to adjust and shape to it.
And the clear thing emerging is that people come first, but you look after people not just because it's the right thing to do, because it will prepare them for a successful life. It'll help transform the economy, maybe get rid of a legacy economy, maybe move to new future. So, you know, if we're looking at the future of work as we've been doing and we're talking about learning to shape the future, the synergy there is obvious it's a conversation that's not going to stop here.
But I'm enormously grateful to you for your time today. I'm sure people will know your name and you'll be bombarded with questions from her from lots of people now. Thank you so much. Desperately grateful to everybody for these conversations. And we look forward to continuing them further. Thanks, everybody, for tuning in. Hopefully we'll see you as all the sessions later this afternoon.
But a huge thanks to our panellists especially. Thanks.
Scott Flower: Thanks.