With digital technologies changing the way people live, shop and learn, individuals need to continue focussing on enhancing their skills as well as anticipate demand for future services, entrepreneurs said at Bennett University's 'Freshers' Welcome Week 2020'.
BigBasket co-founder VS Sudhakar, Simplilearn CEO Krishna Kumar and Livspace co-founder Ramakant Sharma spoke to students about the way sectors like retail, education and online shopping are changing and how the younger generation would need to adapt to these changes.
Speaking on the second day of the event, Kumar said while the COVID-19 pandemic made companies question whether they needed physical office spaces, many other changes - that will affect the future of work - were already brewing in the background.
"The salary arbitrage in the world is going away...Why can't it happen in future that many large companies will decide that they can hire anywhere in the world? This will put a lot of stress on cities, which rely on attracting good people with high paying jobs to grow, Kumar said.
On how fresh graduates today need to continually hone their skills through their working lives, Kumar said many people may see this as a negative, but they just need to add a new skill every few years that is becoming easier with online courses these days.
Sharma of Livspace said these changes were driven by need, which he saw in the early days of the e-commerce industry in India while at Myntra. He founded Livspace after being unable to find a good interior design service that could set up his home after he relocated to India from the US.
"It's kind of a circular loop. We start with anticipating demand and sometimes ready demand is not there," Sharma said. There is also a supply problem in India, he said, adding that this was one of the things that he had learnt over the last 15 years of being at the forefront of India's internet economy.
BigBasket cofounder and chairman VS Sudhakar concurred with Sharma, adding that people's mindsets need to change. Asked how e-commerce can replace the experience of 'touch and feel', Sudhakar said superior service could help change that behaviour.
"One of the things we did on Day One at BigBasket is we had fruits and vegetables in our catalogue. You can call this category the epitome of what you would want to touch and feel. But today, 70 per cent of our orders have fruits and vegetables, and about 75% of our customers buy vegetables online," Sudhakar said.
Today's generation will see a lot more changes in their lifetimes, be it electric cars, autonomous vehicles or other things that cannot be imagined now, he added.
International marathon swimmer Meenakshi Pahuja, who also held a session, shared her secret sauce for success: endurance, hard work and passion. "You are beginning your first step towards unveiling your future by entering this University... At this stage, it's just important to remember that there is no substitute for hard work," said Pahuja, who was awarded the 2018 Nari Shakti Award by President Ram Nath Kovind.
Pahuja, 42, compressed her decades worth of learning into a virtual session, but a single advice stood out: test your limits. "There should be a hunger and passion to do things. Obstacles will keep coming your way, but it's important to continue chasing your dreams," she said.
Pahuja, who also works as a physical training lecturer at Lady Shri Ram College, rose above financial constraints, beat emotional lows and fought stereotypes, to follow her dreams.
"I wanted to swim the oceans, while living in a landlocked place, but that did not stop me from pursuing my passion. I always tell people that we can be like water. When water flows, it carves out a path for itself, no matter how difficult the terrain... You can be gentle, but determination can take you a long way," she said.
Philem Rohan Singh, who has been promoting several social justice causes through his cycling expeditions, also interacted with the students. Hailing from Imphal, Singh told the students to place "service before self", a mantra he follows to ensure happiness.
Bennett University started onboarding students from October 19 for the academic year 2020-21 with the Freshers Welcome Week.
However, considering the delayed admissions in state and central universities and the flood of applications received by Bennett University, the late admission opportunities had been extended till October 31. Two motivational speakers - Vineet Tandon and Major General Vikram Dev Dogra - shared their experiences with the audience.
"I have a five-step formula to success that involves identifying the dream, persevering to follow the dream, maintaining a timeline towards the main goal, ensuring positive pressure, and following the 21-day rule to form good habits, Dogra said at the webinar.
Positive pressure, he explained, was being in the company of people who put a 'positive pressure' on you to follow your dreams. Tandon, who as musical motivational speaker blends the two in his sessions, spoke on the 'hidden curriculum of life' that includes lessons that are not taught in schools but must be learnt anyway, making his point as he strummed his guitar and sang 'Teeja tera rang tha main to', from the movie 'Chak De! India'.