Social & Politics

Living and Working in the 21st Century


What are the most valuable business skills in today’s economies and job markets? Beyond talent and functional expertise, companies now also seek people who can think and collaborate globally, work in virtual teams, communicate across multiple channels and cultures, and commit to life-long learning. All of this necessitates strong self-management and personal entrepreneurship.

In a fast changing global economy employees need to constantly reinvent themselves. They also need to reinvent their jobs, embrace new business models and take advantage of the web-based tools and resources that are available to develop their skills, such as the so-called MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses). Skills development and learning happens at all stages of life and keeps us flexible, informed and adept for tomorrow’s job market.

Technology is enabling all those changes.

Also, when you are working in virtual teams, issues such as age and gender are hardly relevant. Everyone is able to contribute whatever they do best. During a virtual meeting, the people who get ahead are the ones who speak up, take risks and engage in the action. Nobody cares whether you are young or old, female or male, able-bodied or otherwise, and located in the city or at home with a flexible schedule that allows an additional parenting role. In multinational corporations, global teams rarely meet face to face – there’s just no need. With the help of technology you can connect anywhere, anytime. This shift in working styles can be hugely liberating. It allows us make and remake our work according to development needs and preferences.

In this interview, Gabi Zedlmayer talks about social innovation and corporate responsibility at DLDwomen 2012.

Companies too are reinventing themselves, addressing responsibilities beyond traditional profit making. As multinational companies represent approximately half of the world’s 100 largest economies (1), they must achieve more than minimum market morality (2) and help develop “a new roadmap to a sustainable market economy” (3). Addressing environmental and social challenges requires entirely new collaboration between companies, governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders.

The people who fit well into this new kind of organization are those self-managers and personal entrepreneurs mentioned earlier. It should come as no surprise that human resource departments currently scour CVs for any sign that applicants are comfortable using technology to collaborate, communicate, and innovate. They are looking for candidates who think beyond immediate job roles, because these are the people who will drive change and contribute the most to the company.

DLD*women12 conference Munich - "New Rules, New Values" - Germany July, 11-12, 2012 ©*12

At DLDwomen 2012, Gabi Zedlmayer received the "Impact Award" (fltr: Maria Furtwängler-Burda, Pat Mitchell, Gabi Zedlmayer and Steffi Czerny).

At HP, we recognize that there are millions of young people who don’t have access to the kind of educational institutions that can prepare students for 21st-century careers. If you live in a remote area or lack financial means, your options are probably severely limited. But we also recognize that technology can help solve these problems, enabling everyone to learn and develop their skills. That’s why we collaborate with institutions such as the University of the People to democratize education and make it available to everyone around the world – regardless of social background, location or circumstances. We also use innovative cloud-based technology to offer unique online entrepreneurial training and support with our HP LIFE e-learning program – a combination of free IT and business skills training, e-mentoring support and advice, and a global online community of like-minded entrepreneurs.

Today there are multiple opportunities to learn and develop. My advice to both women and men is to actively manage and innovate their careers – become self-managers and personal entrepreneurs – and embrace technology and the newly evolving business models to fully leverage their potentials.

1. Hart, SL, 2005: Capitalism at the Crossroads – The Unlimited Business Opportunities in Solving the World’s Most Difficult Problems, New Jersey: Wharton School Publishing
2. Bull, M, Ridley-Duff, RJ, Foster, D & Seanor, P, 2008, Seeing social enterprise through the theoretical conceptualization of ethical capital, paper to 31st Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Research Conference, Belfast, 5-7 November 2008
3. Ellis, T, 2010: The New Pioneers, John Wiley & Sons, ISBN: 978-0-470-74842-8

Gabi Zedlmayer speaks at the upcoming DLDwomen conference, taking place in Munich July 15 - 16, 2013. Apply for a ticket to this exclusive conference, tune in on the beat of our community on the DLDpulse and find regular updates on the DLDw13 programme and speakers here.