The True Value of Leadership in the Digital Age

A few years ago, at a large conference together with many other South African employers, we discussed graduate programs. My counterparts shared how they recruit the top talent from the Universities, the specific skills they look for and the assessment centres that they run for graduates that assess their potential (interviews, case studies, group work). When I told them that we do not even ask to see the final grades of our graduates, they were surprised – but started to understand as I explained the thought process behind it.


When our candidates come from different backgrounds including being the oldest who support their family or ones who live many hours away and struggle to commute day-to-day, we look at their determination to learn despite all and the potential we see in them to become leaders.  Looking at the graduate programs abound today, I cannot help but notice the immense potential shining through in young African graduates. Yet we need to bear in mind that the digital skills needed for new joiners to thrive are changing at a rapid pace. The technologies our students are learning at University today will be outdated tomorrow. The journey continues for those who can only persist to learn and in my opinion, the greatest legacy companies of today’s day and age can leave behind is offering new mentality and approach in developing leaders who can lead the way to the future.


Nascent technologies are taking over the globe – Information Technology (IT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are already playing a central role in business and 5G technology is preparing to change everything. It makes it even more important than ever to ensure leadership potential is nurtured to build employees who can navigate the digital transformation complexities of our industries and redefine the shape of things to come.


From one industry to the next


At Ericsson, we are at the forefront of this transformation and technology is at the heart of our business. In the midst of a digital revolution, People function is a powerful agent of change. The function is uniquely placed to create new digital ecosystems that utilize people, technology and processes – playing a key role in getting existing employees to adopt a digital mindset and hiring future employees that will support this new culture. For the rising clusters of amazing youth talent rising from within the African continent, People function can play a crucial role in nurturing future leaders to take charge of tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities.


Creating a Future World


In a world that is increasingly complex, our team at Ericsson is on a quest to drive positive change. We enable the full value of connectivity by creating game-changing technology and services that are easy to use, adopt and scale enabling our customers to capture the full value of connectivity. We do not simply transform technology. We transform people too. We consider and create diversity and inclusion in everything we do, building teams that reflect our approach. At the crux of this, we create space for youth talent to bring their unique perspectives to solve some of society’s most confounding challenges.


Tomorrow’s business leaders


Development programs that offer opportunities to everyone, from undergraduates to those with a few years’ commercial experience, are essential for industries to unleash potential of youth talent. 

In order to create a unique space for individuals to share their ideas and perspectives, Ericsson leaders follow an omnichannel approach in communication, ensuring our brand reaches diverse communities. Our diversity and inclusion strategy incorporates mentoring circles and advisory boards to strengthen communication between a broad range of individuals.

We have built our business on empowerment. From the customers we partner with to the employees who bring it all together, we know that exciting things happen when people have the power to work to their full capabilities and unleash their natural leadership capabilities. 

Africa’s youth of tomorrow will be the future innovators. They will also be innovative leaders. Hence, it is important to empower them to incubate ideas and become globally sound technology experts and thought-leaders. We can only unlock the unlimited possibilities of tomorrow’s digital age by going beyond what we are traditionally used to and by always searching for talents based on their potential to learn and potential to lead.


Caroline Berns is Head of Talent Acquisition at Ericsson Middle East & Africa

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