For the ‘Dreamers and Unicorns’ in us

Abhijit Bhaduri’s recently released book is a good self-help guide for early professionals still figuring out their careers

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The pandemic has reshaped and redefined workspaces not to mention, doing away with the concept of office spaces. Abhijit Bhaduri, author of Dreamers and Unicorns, tells HRKatha, “Work has changed, workforce has changed and the workplace has disappeared altogether,” and this is what forms the crux of his book.

The author personally recommends the book for anyone who is exploring career choices, be it B-school students or young professionals who are entering the work space and are seeking a thinking cap. As media becomes diversified and available at a tap on a digital screen, the way people communicate with each other has undergone drastic transformation as well. This is a reminder to adopt innovation as a practice to keep themselves or their firms relevant, now and in the years to come.

As for measuring the value of organisations, there has been a shift from tangible factors to intangible factors, and around 85 per cent of firms measure their worth based on intangible factors — volume of patrons, hired talent and their retention, and also the company culture. This is more so in today’s context where companies are no longer driven by their location, size or capital alone.

Bhaduri has outlined three phases to any person’s career — the dreamer, the unicorn and the market shaper. Early career professionals are in the ‘dreamer’ phase wherein they experiment with jobs to find their fit, and once they find what they like, and their presence is felt and seen, pan India, they enter the ‘unicorn’ phase. It could be individual alone or the firm as a whole coming to the limelight and causing ripples of change. The unicorns, with their national presence and continuous innovation, enter the ‘market shaper’ phase and become trend influencers, taking their reach beyond the borders of their own country.

The author gives examples to illustrate the idea. For instance, Indigo Airlines had entered the market when bigger names in the airlines industry were already present (dreamer). As it grew rapidly (unicorn), Indigo created a niche for itself as one of the top airlines in the low-cost category flights (market shaper). There is a downside to growth as well — lack of innovation marked by the incumbent phase — when the social reach and influence of a firm declines as it fails to innovate to keep up with the market trends.

The book was conceived as a response to the shifting world of work, the need for constant reskilling and the ever-present social media that is engraved into the landscape of work today. As the life expectancy of individuals have shot up and is touching 70 years, the average career span has also gone up with digital connectivity. More youth are entering the job market in their 20s. “You are looking at a 60-year-old career, which has never happened before, and it has gone up by almost 50 per cent. People will go through multiple careers,” points out Bhaduri

The whole notion of age-blocks or being restricted by age for having a long career no longer exists. Take for instance, YouTube influencers like the late 107-year-old Mastanamma with a huge following and a younger nine-year-old Ryan Kaji, who earns millions of dollars from his channel. It is the age of having ‘relevant skills’ not restricted by age.

“The way one manages one’s career has to be very different today otherwise one doesn’t stand a chance,” adds Bhaduri, insisting that the dreamer phase needs to be used by all young professionals to constantly reskill and explore the work pool. As technology also comes into play, many mechanical jobs have been and will be replaced by AI. Therefore, there is a direct need for ‘relationship workers’ over ‘knowledge workers’, especially for HR.

Leadership has also been differentiated today. “The ability to say ‘I don’t know’ and explore (the answer) with the team members is probably going to be a much bigger skill,” explains Bhaduri, when asked about how, ‘leadership, talent and culture are the new growth drivers.’ He further explains that these three drive the phenomenon of dreamers turning into unicorns and then market shapers with innovation as the dogma.

This is not the author’s first release, as he has also published anthologies. He has previously authored two books each in the fiction and nonfiction categories — Mediocre but Arrogant and Married but Available in fiction and Don’t Hire The Best and Digital Tsunami in the non-fiction categories. Interestingly, Bhaduri himself creates the illustrations for his books. Dreamers and Unicorns contains many such unique and cute artworks by the author.