An EcoSystem is a system that exists in perfect equilibrium. Even if one constituent of the ecosystem ceases to exist the equilibrium is disturbed which can cause a chain of unintended consequences.
Lets take the Environmental Ecosystem as an example. The forests, mountains, mangroves, river, soil etc are important constituents that play a role. For example, mangroves prevent floods, soil absorbs rainwater, forests impact climate/heat and mountains also bring rain. We have all seen the disastrous consequences of an ecosystem imbalance, like the floods in Chennai and global warming due to massive deforestation.
Similarly, we will talk about the career ecosystem today. And how the absence of career diversity can cause unintended consequences. To give some history, when Japan and Germany were decimated after the 2nd world war, they built their economy brick by brick, realizing the need for a career ecosystem.
The career ecosystem ensures a healthy economy that provides a minimum standard of living, eliminates poverty, guarantees quality healthcare, ensures literacy and offers job opportunities for sustained economic growth. Some great examples of such countries are Sweden, Germany, Singapore etc.
So what is a career ecosystem? Let us explain it with an example. When Japan began their economic recovery they realized that they needed to create a sustainable engine of growth that will ensure that they became self-reliant. So they turned to research, core research in areas of manufacturing, design, agriculture, and several other areas critical to their economy. The goal was to build intellectual capital through core research in pure science. Pure science wouldn’t lead to immediate results, but built the foundation for innovation in the coming decades through ground breaking discoveries.
That was not enough. The next stage was to take that abstract research discovery and try to apply it to real problems within the constraints of a research lab to evaluate feasibility. This needed a different set of skills. They are applied research professionals who could evaluate an idea and its potential in the real world. These innovations were apparent in Japan’s indisputable leadership in Science and Technology.
Once applied researchers validated the feasibility, it was time to take that innovation into the real world through a patented technology which protects the innovation from competitors. This required the services of technology specific attorneys who could argue the need for protection of the innovation until it recovers the costs and reaps reasonable benefits to the innovators. Many of these innovations were funded by businesses and organizations in collaboration with academic research institutions.
The process of launching a new technology or a product is cumbersome, especially when the product is revolutionary. This requires several non-technical professionals who can break the barriers between technologists and the layman. The designers are the ones who work with technologists to create a product that not just does its job but also in a way that easier to use for the customer. For example, in a Refrigerator, the designer plays a very important role in how a fridge is used. Then there are journalists who create awareness, public relations professionals that represent the organization and who work with media and journalists to communicate the value proposition of the new products. And the advertising, sales and marketing departments who come up with creative ideas to run a business by pricing and selling to target segments. The operations team streamlines the production process to ensure that demand is met. And last but not the least, the finance and economics team that ensure business continuity by forecasting demand, mitigating risk, making sound investment strategies and cost management. These skills are highly creative and complement the technical skills that are needed to come up with a new technology. And a business is successful only through a combination of technical and non-technical skills.
And finally the technology sees the light of the day through engineered products which are in the hands of customers who benefitted from decades of research and innovation and also gave Japan the market leadership in Consumer Electronics and Automobiles for several generations.
Technologies like Renewable Energy which are beneficial to the entire world due to their clean source, need the help of public policies to be adopted by everyone. This requires the work of policy professionals who understand new technologies and their long-term impact. They work with the government to make sure that the government implements citizen friendly policies through the right incentives which encourage citizens to adopt these new technologies for the benefit of the environment and the world.
This completes one entire lifecycle of the Career ecosystem, that begins with fundamental research in a lab and ends up in the hands of the consumer with everlasting benefits and better quality of life. But this requires the efforts of Science Professionals (Researchers, Engineers), Design Professionals (Industrial/Product/UX etc), Communication Professionals (Patents lawyers, Journalists, Marketing, , Sales, Advertising, PR, Policy) and Business Professionals (Economists, MBA, Operations, Risk Management).
Now, why is this a Career Ecosystem? If a specific career or skillset ceases to exist, say design, the product will not sell because of usage barriers. Similarly, if business professionals cease to exist, business continuity is impacted and the organization cannot function in a sustainable way due to lack of financial resources. If communication professionals don’t exist, a great product doesn’t sell due to lack of awareness.
Hence, a career ecosystem is similar to other natural ecosystems that have a perfect equilibrium. In order of a career ecosystem to survive we need to make sure every career role is nurtured to support the needs of our society and business.
It is not enough to have only Engineers and Doctors. Without other skills to complement Science skills we will always remain a developing country! Moreover, our student population is incredibly diverse. They have many unique skills that can address the requirements of different roles above. Let us not waste those skills .
That is the only way forward !