Upskilling is the only way to future proof careers in digital marketing, by upGrad’s Saranjit Sangar

Global edtech leaders have unlocked a slew of possibilities for marketing professionals looking to pivot to new career paths and take charge of their own future, writes upGrad, CEO-EMEA, Saranjit Sangar.

The pandemic triggered a series of developments with far-reaching repercussions for brands, consumers and marketers. Digital adoption has accelerated globally – whether you live in India, the UAE or the UK. There’s no better example of this change than my 65-year-old mother. She used to love popping into the shops on a mid-week morning but now orders her groceries online, using a discount code she got off the local community Facebook group.

High rates of Internet connectivity led to the surge in e-commerce; ironically, this digital connectivity has also fostered a craving for the human touch. Consumers are gravitating to brands that live the values of empathy and kindness. Businesses, in turn, have pivoted to reimagining their purpose. Today they are increasingly evaluated for their environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance by investors and consumers alike.

It’s a time of growth, turbulence and challenges for all.

The surge in e-commerce and digital transformation has motivated marketing professionals to overcome the gaps in their skills and knowledge. Mid-career professionals can no longer dine off a degree acquired years ago, as much of that knowledge is obsolete today. Traditional marketing sees customer journeys as linear progressions along the conversion funnel; however, this happens across multiple channels and devices today, influenced by factors that didn’t exist until 2020.

The Covid-19 crisis playbook has no space for legacy marketing. It’s clear that we’ll never go back to the old way of doing things once the crisis is over. But are organisations and individuals prepared for these seismic changes? And how well can they prepare for future disruptions, brought on by technology and/or black swan events such as pandemics?

Becoming future-ready

Digital-first CMOs need to relearn team leadership for the new reality while keeping their digital skills up to date. They have to train for evolving employer-employee relationships, as hierarchies get flattened and technology makes geography irrelevant, as well as prepare for permanent, full-time jobs being phased out.

However, across the region, accelerated digitalization has ushered in new career opportunities. The World Economic Forum predicted the UAE can generate an additional 43,000 jobs by 2030 by closing the skills gap, leading to a gain of $4.3 billion (Dh15.8 billion) for the UAE.

Demand for certain roles has actually grown. According to a LinkedIn survey of its UAE members, demand has spiked for digital content freelancers, professional and personal coaches, and finance and general business professionals. Technologies such as 5G are expected to create more new careers; even as automation makes several roles redundant and streamlines others.

There is an urgency to the reskilling revolution, with good reason. A quarter of the jobs that exist today did not exist five years ago: user experience director, digital performance manager and influencer marketer among them. Other roles, such as data analyst, have seen their scope change and expand. A World Economic Forum[1] report states future job growth will come from seven professional areas, including sales marketing and content, data and AI, and specialized project managers. However, there is a critical skills shortage for these fast-growing jobs, unlocking opportunities for professionals looking to transform their career paths.

Learning, unlearning and re-learning are the future value that individuals and organisations need to create today for tomorrow. To retain and attract the best talent, organisations would also have to offer learning and growth opportunities: be it to re-training leaders for remote environments, or upskill talent for a digital landscape. In fact, a new KPMG report revealed that more than a quarter of UAE employees (28 per cent) will likely require upskilling.

For example, tech professionals in their late 30s may not have studied Machine Learning, Python, and DevOps. Today, these are essential skills for future-proof careers. For marketing professionals looking to pivot to new career paths and take charge of their own future, online higher education platforms unlock a slew of possibilities. Global edtech leader upGrad offers dozens of programs in fields such as data sciences, blockchain, machine learning, AI, marketing, management, and others, delivering curated curriculum that is up to date, industry-relevant and engaging for Middle East talent.

How do you pick the right online learning course? Check if the program is designed to meet current and future job demands in your sector, and evaluate the completion rate. In today’s world, an online degree could be the best way to acquire job-ready skills without educational barriers like cost and geography. Lifelong learning is the way forward now for all to thrive in the post-pandemic future.


[1] https://www.weforum.org/projects/reskilling-revolution-platform