The graduate of International Business at the Technology School of Monterey, Mexico City, Karla Mercado Garduño has worked in several sectors, from consumer industry and retail to banking. However, having become aware of technology and innovation’s current role, she has decided to focus her career on the Tech field.
To Karla, technology and innovation are a combo that is no longer viewed as a challenge of tomorrow, but rather of today, one which requires new generations to train in these areas without delay. Only by doing so will they be able to reliably tackle potential global emergencies -as with the current health crisis resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic- which demand immediate action via new technologies and a change management approach.
"One thing I am sure of is that this generation won't be defined by what we lost due to this virus, but by how we responded and how we adapted.”Karla Mercado
In her case, such adaptation to the new environment was supported by Banco Santander, in partnership with Esade, a leading global institution in Professional Development. More specifically, Karla applied for a Santander Skills Scholarship in order to continue developing her soft skills, needed to enhance employability in a working environment driven by digital transformation and the demand for new transversal skills.
“One of the reasons I was encouraged to apply for this scholarship was, without doubt, the new reality that I and millions of students had to face in completing our professional studies during a pandemic.”Karla Mercado
For a recent graduate like Karla, it can often be intimidating to take the leap into the "real world", and that is without considering the difficulties of completing studies in a chaotic, closed-doors environment, where job opportunities have been slashed.
The health crisis has been hard-hitting for businesses, many of which came to a standstill. Many had to change direction or completely halt all activity, partly due to being caught unawares and having no investment plans for tech solutions. Thus, according to World Bank data, revenue at a quarter of companies fell by 50% during the pandemic, while only 34% increased their budget to boost their presence on the internet and social networks.
This ensemble of conditions has affected the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the short and medium term, creating uncertainty and despondency in the production sector. But rather than resigning herself to the circumstances, the situation led Karla to carefully consider many aspects, such as the importance of ongoing training and agile thinking, i.e., having the ability to resolve problems in changing environments, and to react quickly.
"I had the chance to reflect on the future of employment and on how the skills employers demand will put a new emphasis on technology and innovation in the wake of this pandemic."Karla Mercado
Likewise, Karla also noticed that soft skills, such as problem solving, leadership and effective communication have never been more valued than they are now in the digital era. In the face of such demand, she realised that it is every individual's responsibility to polish these skills if they want to succeed in the post-covid world of work.
"My bosses and teachers have emphasised the importance of developing soft skills, maybe even more than technical skills, because in the end these will be the skills most valued by employers in the post-covid era.”Karla Mercado
Technology and innovation have proven instrumental in enhancing business performance throughout this pandemic. They have been shown to be vital, and to present an opportunity to thrive in the current era. As Deloitte states, 'Covid-19 has further accelerated the pace of change and the speed of the digital transformation, which has forced stragglers to, in turn, accelerate their pace to keep up with the digital leaders.'
Oppenheimer already said it: 'innovate or die', a maxim that, as Karla has seen for herself, is also applicable to students or recent graduates who don’t want to be left behind, since organisations are seeking professionals capable of turning challenges into opportunities, people with a mentality open to change. In fact, it is in the wake of this crisis that many companies have realised the need for a workforce trained in technology and innovation, able to swiftly and efficiently adapt to changing environments and take on new challenges autonomously, according to Randstad's Talent Trends 2020.
Conscious of these new demands, Karla realised the importance of developing her skills, of being a life-long learner, to meet the new needs and challenges of the job market. That is why she decided to participate in the Santander Scholarships, where she picked up new transversal competences, was able to better understand herself and identify what was not working in her daily routine.
“With the scholarships' ‘learning by doing’ methodology, I was able to apply my newly-acquired knowledge immediately to my career and in the workplace. Additionally, it allowed me to learn new means of organisation and productivity which I could then apply to eliminate these two problems and make long hours working and studying in front of a computer screen more enjoyable."Karla Mercado
This enabled her to introduce change and become more productive, know how to manage herself, understand the type of leader she wants to be and share this knowledge with her work team.
"I realised that this is key to being able to influence and spark that motivation that is part of my life goal to uplift others. It was, without doubt, a process of self-awareness of my successes, failures and what it really means to be a leader without ever forgetting what gives meaning and impact to my life."Karla Mercado
Moreover, Karla had the chance to connect with students around the world, hearing all about their ideas, work and organisation techniques, which made a valuable contribution to her professional development and growth –particularly in her case, given her passion for languages and cultural diversity and the good fortune she has had of participating in three academic exchanges in Canada, China and France.
"This experience has allowed me to connect with people from different countries and to realise that the world is undoubtedly the best classroom”.Karla Mercado
Karla is therefore grateful to Banco Santander and ESADE Business School for giving her this opportunity to develop personally and professionally and she encourages other students, recent graduates and active professionals to participate in the new Banco Santander initiative in collaboration with Esade, the Santander Skills Scholarship | Upskill your Talent - Esade, to develop the competencies that allow them to tackle the problems of a post-Covid world.
In this new normal, how professionals interact presents new challenges. As a result of the increase in remote working, communications and teamwork have evolved and, today more than ever, it is imperative to know how to forge links, communicate effectively and sensitively, and build trust with other colleagues. Besides this, problems with procrastination and concentration have become common among professionals unaccustomed to remote working.
That is why fostering healthy habits in the workplace, learning strategies to optimise efficiency and productivity, or strengthening the monitoring of work using the Getting Things Done (GTD) technique are just some of the benefits offered by the Santander Skills Scholarship | Upskill your Talent - Esade.
There are seven online modules lasting two weeks each, all aimed at boosting your career. Depending on the module you choose, and using 'learning by doing' methodology, you will have the opportunity to enhance some of the most in-demand soft skills for work: leadership, creativity, personal productivity, influence and emotional intelligence, negotiation, communication, and complex problem solving and decision making.
Are you over 18 and, like Karla, would like to boost your personal and professional development opportunities to secure greater employability? Sign up for Santander Skills Scholarship | Upskill your Talent - Esade and get ready for business success in an ever-more competitive and automated job market. Now’s your chance!
Karla Mercado Garduño, graduate of International Business at the Technology School of Monterey, Mexico City.