scorecardThe 3 skills you need to have to grow your career in the age of AI, according to Databricks VP
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The 3 skills you need to have to grow your career in the age of AI, according to Databricks VP

Junta Nakai   

The 3 skills you need to have to grow your career in the age of AI, according to Databricks VP
Tech3 min read
Junta Nakai is a global vice president and head of financial services, cybersecurity and sustainability at Databricks.    Junta Nakai
  • Junta Nakai is global vice president and head of financial services at Databricks.
  • He writes that careers will depend on your ability to use soft skills and adapt.

Less than a year ago, a degree in computer science seemed like the golden ticket to a successful career. However, after ChatGPT's public release in 2022, this may no longer be the case as generative AI (GenAI) democratizes coding to those who simply possess English proficiency.

In the age of artificial intelligence, successful careers will not be defined by a single hard skill but rather by how individuals use their soft skills to adapt and reinvent themselves.

As the global vice president at Databricks, a data and AI platform with a $43 billion valuation, I regularly meet with executives who are focused on how to lead their organizations in the age of AI. Increasingly, I get asked about how GenAI will impact their workforce and the employees they lead.

I believe for your career to thrive going forward, it is imperative that you adopt and implement these three mindset shifts. If you don't, your success today may not translate into tomorrow's success.

1. Live far outside your comfort zone

Today, GenAI can write poems or create art based on prompts. Tomorrow, AI will be capable of performing exponentially complex tasks and near-human workflows.

While productivity gains will be significant, innovation inevitably comes with disruption. In the near future, your time at the summit of any profession will be fleeting.

Frey and Oscbone's widely cited study found that 47% of jobs in the United States are at risk of being automated. Customer service agents are at risk from chat bots, and even highly specialized and well-compensated jobs like Wall Street traders are not immune to big change. In other words, even if you find yourself in the remaining 53%, the skills and experiences required in your job will change quickly, repeatedly and frequently.

Advice: Substantially increase time and distance away from your comfort-zone. For example, put together a slide deck with your point of view on how your current job will evolve over the next three years and present it to as many people that will listen. Be bold and seek feedback from a diverse group of stakeholders. Exchanging thoughts with new people and testing your ideas mentally prepares you to anticipate and adapt.

2. Reinforce the human-touch

Ironically, as AI proliferates around us, the characteristics that make us human become more important, not less.

GenAI will undoubtedly boost your productivity, but it also makes everyone else better as well. If your competitors can quickly answer nuanced questions and author insightful reports as well as you can, how do you stand out?

To keep advancing your career, capitalize on the serendipity of human interaction that machines cannot emulate. Put a heavier emphasis on perfecting in-person human interaction and find ways to differentiate yourself in the real-world.

Advice: Practice public speaking and attend conferences. Build your network and your brand. Try solving novel problems and work on articulating your ideas to audiences big and small. For example, do something uncomfortable like attending in-person meet ups on a subject you know nothing about. Periodically, do it again on another subject where you have zero expertise. Socialize and make new friends at these events to expand your knowledge network. Put yourself out there and put in the effort to be different in the analog world.

3. Be humble and constantly re-tool

Going forward, seemingly prestigious career prospects can turn into a chaotic string of job hopping if you don't have the humility and awareness to constantly re-tool.

The many bumps, turns, and forks you experience while navigating your career will become ever steeper and sharper.

You must constantly earn the right to be successful. Just because you were successful doesn't mean you will be successful, even in the same field. The skills you need to maneuver a career will constantly change.

Advice: Take classes that your peers aren't taking and read books that your competitors aren't reading. For a highly technical person, this could mean doing something uncomfortable like taking an online course on the history of Renaissance art. Stretching your mind in unique ways prevents you from the trap of thinking "this would never work" when you come across new ideas in your space. Don't extrapolate past success. Prepare your mind to constantly look at things from new perspectives.

The winning mentality

While the new paradigm for careers may seem daunting, the next decade could be the most prosperous decade in human history. AI and GenAI could add tens of trillions of dollars to the world economy, boost productivity and supercharge innovation.

Hard skills will continue to be important, but perfecting your soft skills in the analog world will serve as the enduring north star that guides you towards successful outcomes.

Simply put, hard skills can make you good at one job, while soft skills can make you good at many jobs. Those that build upon their soft skills to constantly adapt, reset and reinvent will thrive in the Age of AI.

Junta Nakai is a global vice president and head of financial services, cybersecurity and sustainability at Databricks.