On 15 July 2016, we had the wonderful pleasure of having Dr. Karie Willyerd, a Workplace Futurist, who made a stopover visit to Singapore, at our office, to share tips from her book, Stretch: How to Future-Proof Yourself for Tomorrow’s Workplace. Terence Quek, CEO of Emergenetics International-Asia Pacific reflects on his learning from her presentation.


A Workplace Futurist – what a cool title to have! But beyond being just a cool title, I realised how important it is to have someone who is looking at numbers, trends and patterns to help inform us how we, as either individuals or organisations, can prepare to battle any changes up ahead.

In Dr. Willyerd’s sharing – changing demographics, technological advancements and shifting economic winds, is slowly making waves at the workplace. We can see and feel changes happening already. Retrenchments, globalisation, the decline of manufacturing and even android-like robots are changing the way we work. Heard of Amelia 2.0

In fact, in just four years’ time, millennials will be taking over the workforce in droves. They will take up 57% of the workforce alone, in comparison with a mere 20% from Generation X, and that is indeed something to note.

These changing trends may worry many (especially those who may prefer for things to remain the same), but there is a brighter side. Of course there is. And it all lies in how much we are willing to change, adapt, unlearn and relearn.

Alvin Toffler says to Learn, Unlearn, Relearn.To future-proof your career, Dr. Willyerd says,  Learn, learn and learn.

In fact, what she shared could not have come at a more apt and timely manner. I refer to Singapores Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Mr Ong Ye Kung’s, recent keynote address at the Straits Times Education Forum last month.

He urged students to acquire ‘A’-shaped skills – to start from nothing at the tip of ‘A’, then subsequently gain both breadth and depth in skills and knowledge (the widening base). It’s no longer enough to gain ‘T’-shaped skills or even ‘π’-shaped skills – but rather to take a holistic approach to learning and developing.

The only way to progress is to unlearn the old notions of learning (‘T’-shaped skills) and learn again updated methodologies that is relevant to today’s times (‘A’-shaped skills).

If the young are already doing this, shouldnt the more experienced-in-life amongst us do the same to be on par? We need to constantly keep learning and stretching – or risk becoming redundant one day.

I find Dr. Willyerd’s 5 Stretch practices to be poignant, accurate and beneficial. To stretch ourselves, we need to:

1.      Learn on the Fly

2.      Be Open

3.      Build a Diverse Network

4.      Be Greedy About Experiences

5.      Bounce Forward

Im already talking to my team about how we can all continue to learn on the fly, be open, build a diverse network, be greedy about experiences and bouncing forward. It helps that we have our own Emergenetics Profile to reflect upon, so we can not only figure out how we response to each of Dr. Willyerds points in our own unique thinking and behavioural ways, but also how best to support each other on this never-ending journey of learning and stretching.

What are you doing today to inspire your people to learn and stretch?

 Dr. Karie Willyerd’s book, Stretch: How to Future-Proof Yourself for Tomorrow’s Workplace’, made it to Amazon Editor’s pick in January. Click on the link to find out more!

Written by Terence Quek, CEO of Emergenetics International – Asia Pacific.