HuaweiHow combining different skill sets leads to success in the tech innovation sector

How combining different skill sets leads to success in the tech innovation sector

Generalists who engage with challenging conversations are stronger jobs candidates, Huawei boss advises

Students should “not underestimate the importance of being a generalist” and its appeal to potential employers, said Alykhan Velshi, head of corporate affairs for Huawei Canada, during a talk about innovation and drive in technology.

As societies transition out of the Covid-19 crisis, a new set of global challenges is emerging and jobs markets are shifting as a result. Universities and students are having to adapt their attitudes towards employability – and specialising in a particular area may not be as desirable as it once was.

During the session, which was held at the THE Student Festivals series on studying in Canada, Velshi said that in his experience of the tech industry, the “strongest” job candidates tended to be “those who combine different skill sets: an engineer who understands accounting, a lawyer who understands physics, or the physicist who speaks a foreign language”.

“When you’re pursuing your studies…try to think about some complementary things that will give you a more unique skill set,” he suggested.

While there was a tendency for young people to assume that Silicon Valley-style start-ups offered the best opportunities, “most global innovation is happening in large companies because only they have the billions of dollars necessary to do the research and development work”, Velshi said.

At a time of growing geopolitical tensions, Velshi said, it was “no secret” that Huawei found itself “at the centre of the US-China debate” on technology regulation and competition. But he reasoned that Huawei was “not unique” in that respect, and graduates shouldn’t feel put off as a result.

“Increasingly, what I’m noticing is that it doesn’t matter what company you’re in, you’re often having to operate in a complicated global, political and regulatory environment,” he said.

“If you want to work for a global multinational…you have to be able to nimbly operate among these global trends and tensions,” he said. “Read the papers, be aware of what’s happening around the world, be able to answer questions on it,” he advised.

Choosing to “interact with” rather than ignore difficult conversation topics will make graduates “much stronger candidates, not only in the international jobs market but also when you end up in one of these companies you’ll be better able to provide high-level advice,” he concluded.

Watch the session on demand above or on the THE Connect YouTube channel.

Find out more about Huawei and higher education.

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