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Are you in a career you dislike? Try and find value in it

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Timothy Oriedo is an executive coach and big data scientist

What is the common blind spot that inhibits young people from attaining optimal productivity?

The biggest challenge most millennials face is the skill tooling barrier. There is a big disconnect between how students are prepared for the job market

in academic institutions and the expected standards at the workplace. No one is to blame, but there is urgent need for young professionals to pursue

mentorship in their respective areas of interest to bridge this knowledge gap.

What would you have wanted to learn from your mentor that you feel would have accelerated your success?

Managing upwards is always a challenge for young leaders, but with more hand-holding, the ladder is easier to scale. I would have fared better with more career-related guidance. On the flip side, there are important lessons that I could only pick from making and having to confront poor professional

decisions. These lessons anchored me firmly on my career path as I sought to avoid similar blunders along the course. They remain relevant to my

career growth to date.

What key tips can millennials gather from your own learning curve in your 15-year profession?

My journey has been replete with twists and turns and disappointments in between. Through these experiences, I have learnt that resilience keeps you moving forward. Perspiration helps to push the limits of what you are capable of doing. My day, for instance, starts at 3.30am and ends at 10pm. Continuous personal skill development is a vital initiative in your career trajectory, so seek to learn at every available opportunity.

How can organisations adjust to the massive disruptions caused by technology, with a focus on their young employees?

They need to embrace reverse mentorship. This is an initiative in which older executives are paired with and mentored by younger employees on topics

such as technology, social media and current trends, which they understand better than the older folks. Millennials come with fresh eyes, open minds,

and instant links to the technology of the future. For this reason, organisations ought to unlearn legacy systems and embrace New Age thinking.

Learning from millennials and their fascination with technology at the workplace is one such sure way of ensuring inclusivity.

You are an expert in blockchain technology. What is its relevance to our economy?

This is a platform that promotes open and transparent exchange of monetary goods and services without the much guarded protocol of legacy

institutions. Through this technology, someone can send money to another person without involving a bank. The technology driving it is distributed,

public and encrypted. Blockchain technology will enable the global transfer and transactions of goods whether financial, hard assets or ideas without

the usual rigour of traditional institutions. Blockchain is creating new avenues to change democracy and values of integrity while spurring

entrepreneurship for traders in the developing world by enabling them to operate business beyond their local community.

Is cryptocurrency a worthy investment? What are the benefits and the risks?

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies, and specifically bitcoin, have massive momentum. It is, however, still not predictable whether or not all the digital

currency phenomenon will succeed. The prediction has always been that cryptocurrency and blockchain is a risky business. Technology theorists,

however, argue that if the blockchain technology is as big and universal as the Internet, we are likely to do a comparably bad job of predicting its

upsides and downsides. The best approach is to invest cautiously while keenly observing developments in the cryptocurrency world.

There has been lots of emphasis on entrepreneurship lately. Is employment that bad?

I subscribe to the theory that employment and entrepreneurship entwine. As an employee, I invest in my skills and strive to find someone willing to pay

the worth of my salt while seeking to remain relevant to the highly evolving business landscape. The key factor is readiness to invest in oneself and

constantly endeavouring to grow and diversify the scope of your competencies to be more marketable.

What options exist should I find myself in a career I do not care for?

First, try to love the job. Find value in it by measuring it against your personal ethos. It’s unusual that the elements you dislike about a job will be

permanent. Secondly, address the matter with your bosses at work for a possible change of roles, which might just create the necessary spark. If you

have a career coach in your corner, you are even luckier. Thirdly, equip yourself with skills that will make you more marketable outside the current

engagement. Never walk out until you find another job. 

What are some of the profitable areas that young data scientists can venture into?

The best entry point at the moment is research and innovation hubs. Our region though has been slow to appreciate data-driven decisions, which

hampers the uptake of this skill by corporates. The situation is, however, fast-changing, thanks to the concerted efforts by industry players in driving

demand for the skills. According to the World Economic Forum, data science is one of the world’s top 10 paying jobs. The more years of work you

put in, the subtler you become.

Do you have other interests besides data science?

I enjoy farming; horse breeding, dairy and sugarcane farming. I am also authoring a book on Big Data, which I hope to publish in May this year. I am fascinated with aeroplanes, and have enrolled for an aviation course to acquire a private flying licence.

What do you do to nourish yourself intellectually and to rejuvenate?

I read an average of four books a month. My favourite reads are newly published mathematical, behavioural, modelling and economics books. I am currently reading Misbehaving, written by English economist Richard Thaler, winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for Economics. I also enjoy travelling and spending time with family.