3 Skills to make the Transition from Cyber Coolie to Being Cyber Cool

The IT and fintech industry is currently in a very turbulent stage, at a global level. The threat of losing your job any minute has definitely created a lot of pressure amongst the young professionals. While everyone is talking about how the workforce has to upgrade themselves with respect to hard skills i.e. technical skills, there is a dire need for the workforce to have an increased focus on soft and business skills as well. The soft skills comprises the basic communicational skills, with both internal and external stakeholders of the firm. It is also important to have more focus on the business knowledge. In fact, this is the most crucial component in order to maximize the employees’ contribution towards the firm’s growth.

Therefore, in this disruptive age of automation, majority of organizations are looking for employees having a good mix of hard, soft and business skills. Listed below is an elaborated skill set that can easily guide today’s young workforce towards having a successful career path in the IT and fintech space.

1 – Hard skills:

  • Adaptable software engineering skills / “true” coding aptitude. Many Indian engineers are performing what amounts to software assembly – relying on IDEs and not writing “native” code from scratch. As programming languages evolve they will struggle relative to engineers who are well-versed in the actual art of coding. For example, Python has overtaken C++ in many financial engineering and fintech applications; for true engineers this is a relatively straightforward conversion.
  • Appreciation and understanding of hardware as well as coding expertise. For example, shave milliseconds off run times on trading platforms requires knowledge of optimization at both the software and hardware level.
  • Cutting-edge Tech Becomes the Norm in a Digitized Business Model. The emergence of credible fintech players across retail financial markets as well as capital markets has ensured that expertise in machine learning, AI, computational disciplines such as statistical analysis, data analytics/modelling etc. will be prized. The more academic the better; good news for PhD and Masters Students in these areas.

Similarly expertise in cybersecurity, digital encryption, Blockchain and related technologies will also command a premium. Some Academic institutions in the US and Europe are offering courses in cryptography and Blockchain, but there are few such credible courses in India currently.

  • Background: Agile is not just a software methodology…Agile Intellects: Tech co-exists with Business. It is often easier to cross-train technologists on functional domain knowledge than business-oriented professionals on technology. In India there is an embedded model of business analysts explains functional knowledge to developers; this will be an increasingly anachronistic model of delivering technology solutions. Particularly in a digitized business where understanding the possibilities (and limits) of the business goes hand-in-hand with an innate understanding of technology.

2 – Business skills:

  • True Domain Experts will command a Premium. True functional experts in specific finance verticals (e.g. insurance, hedge funds, re-insurance etc.) will be harnessed by fintech players to extract and codify their domain knowledge and heuristics – via AI and Machine Learning – to build platforms that can perform both low-level and mid-level tasks previously performed by professionals. Across a variety of white-collar professions from legal/compliance to investment banking and insurance these platforms are being put in place and forcing bankers and lawyers to elevate their value-add to generating original content, winning client deals or creatively designing new value propositions for their respective businesses. ****GOLDMAN I-BANKING SYSTEM****

3 – Soft skills:

  • Read books…yes REAL books not just online blogs about them.
  • Stem matters, liberal arts matters too…in some cases moreAs employers look for technology and analytical skills they are also looking to combine these with communication skills – verbal and written – Liberal Arts education which is often seen as the “poor relation” to STEM subjects will take on a new lease of life in this context.

In the West, alliances are being formed between corporate and governmental bodies to fill the gaps in this from of “hybrid” education to prepare graduates for the “new collar” jobs of the future.

Show that you have a propensity to travel (ideally outside of India), show where you have met people and TALKED to them…..Instant Messaging does not create a rapport or win new deals and clients…..neither does winning your college chess tournament…

  • Finally…be original in your choice of employer: Following the herd is rarely disruptive…The Turf war between Disruptors and Incumbents offers a multitude of Opportunities. It is not only start-ups that offer cool new roles involving the latest technologies and large compensation packages.

– Bijesh Amin, Co-Founder, Indus Valley Partners