‘Time to create digital leaders”: Ranjan Kumar Mohapatra at IFTDO World Conference and Exhibition

The participants from all over the world at the IFTDO 2022 discussed the challenges being faced by companies in making the most of the future of work and creating a future-ready, resilient workforce


‘Strategies for an agile work culture’ was the central theme of the HR World Conference that took place at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.

The International Federation of Training and Development Organisations’ (IFTDO) three-day conference which concluded on 21 May, 2022, covered many interesting topics that are relevant to the HR fraternity.

The sessions including panel discussions, concurrent sessions and plenary sessions, were grouped under four tracks — Skills, Technology, Markets and Sustainability.

From ‘Challenges of skilling the workforce in a gig economy’ and ‘Importance of skills in a digitally connected workplace’, to ‘Metaverse, VR, mixed reality and the future of L&D’, the speakers covered it all.

Some of the other very relevant topics that were discussed were the role of neuroscience in fostering well-being and inclusion at the workplace; the challenges of educating the next generation of leaders; competencies for sustainability; robolution(harmonising technology and human skills); leveraging technology for self-directed learning as well as building agility to talent refactoring.

This is the fifth time that this international conference is taking place in India.

As Ranjan Kumar Mohapatra, president – IFTDO, and director (HR), Indian Oil Corporation rightly pointed out, it is “time to move from the traditional form of leadership and create digital leaders”. He spoke about how the pandemic caused disruption but also brought in diversity, “which leads to more effective ideas and their implementation”.

With “transitioning to new horizons” being the new normal, according to Mohapatra, “the onus is on us to achieve this talented and agile workforce to achieve PM’s vision of net-zero by 2070.”

That the pandemic has been a boon in many ways was stressed by Hon’ble Speaker of Lok Sabha Shri Om Birla, who proudly observed that “India managed to surpass even developed nations in the pace with which it adapted to change”.

He stated how “we thought our population was a curse, but now due to a shift in the work culture, it’s a boon”. Attributing India’s progress across sectors to its young workforce, Birla said in his keynote address, “Indian youth-led startups are now giving solutions to real-time issues”. He added, “In the new context, we must discuss how to increase production with minimal resources as well as improve management and increase avenues for employment.”

The Conference was inaugurated by Birla and Hon’ble Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Housing & Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri.

Projecting that India will add 180 million people to the working-age group of 15-64 years between 2020-2050, Puri emphasised that India would have to “invest in training and development of new tech such as 5G, virtual reality and augmented reality to deliver the innovation we need in sectors like green hydrogen, battery storage and biofuel”.

Puri highlighted the fact that India is amongst the fastest-growing major economies in all sectors and to keep progressing at this rate, the country requires the “full and whole-hearted support of the Indian industry to adopt and adapt workplace norms in post-pandemic era”.

Natraj Ray, national president, Indian Society for Training and Development (ISTD), said that given the carefully chosen theme of the Conference, it will surely “be a pathway and stepping stone for the exchange of ideas for thought leaders of today.”

Ahmed Al Banna, chairman, IFTDO, chief executive, Origin Group, Bahrain, drew attention to the fact that “we are faced with challenges, ranging from inflation, technological and medical challenges and even an economic world war. We have to create opportunities out of challenges – and we have to invest more in human capital development through many functions, such as this conference.”

Talking about the “unprecedented experiences of the last two years”, Vinayshil Gautam, chair, steering committee & president emeritus, ISTD said, “The problems are known, the solutions are known but we have to move in time towards solutions, else we will be overtaken by events”.

IFTDO 2022 was organised by the Indian Society for Training and Development (ISTD) in collaboration with National Human Resource Development (NHRD) and the Standing Conference of Public Enterprises (SCOPE). Other associates were the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC).

The event saw stakeholders and industry leaders from all over the world discussing the challenges being faced by companies in making the most of the future of work, creating a future-ready, resilient workforce and aligning thought processes to tomorrow.

The inaugural event also had the IFTDO Global Awards Programme which recognised the achievements of organisations and their people across sectors, pertaining to value for money, innovation into practice and learning into action.

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