Shanthi Rajan, Director – Institution Development, University of Stirling, RAK Campus

Shanthi Rajan is a senior HR professional with a cumulative 29 years of experience in HR and academia. Shanthi is the Director – Institution Development of University of Stirling, RAK campus and SQA (Scottish Qualifications Authority) Diplomas. She moved to academia in 2009 and has taught in many Universities of repute in UAE, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.


By now it is clear to all of us that the twenty-first-century workplace is not all about technical skills, open offices, recruitment process outsourcing or application of machine learning models. There is still a dearth of qualified potential hires and because of this more often than not the recruiting process is flawed. PwC’s 2017 CEO Survey reports that Chief Executives view the unavailability of talents and skills as the biggest threat to their businesses and I am sure any credible survey will talk of the same thing too if conducted today. So, what is that we are missing with such an abundance of technical skills in almost all the domains that we can think of!

What is missing in simple terms is the ‘Interface’. The interface between the technical personality and the role requirements of an organization. Everything from attitude, adaptation, behavioural competencies, collaboration, team building and team playing, soft skills, success and understanding the requirements of an organizational role, and dependencies of the role(s) toward goal congruence and attendant objectives are some of the inclusive attributes of ‘Interface’. The perturbing part is it just doesn’t stop here for an organization’s fit. If all these attributes are the cubes of the Rubik then to complete the game, one has to complete the same colour criteria on each face of the Rubik. In our context, this colour criteria is the Emotional Intelligence that completes the Rubik. This is the binding factor in the Rubik’s Cube of ‘Organization’s People Attributes’. So, what this implies is that process of talent sourcing is more than an abstract science. As a metaphor it is just the Pizza base – without topping, no one is going to call it a Pizza for it ceases to be an addressable entity in customs of use and practices. Pizza Effect is the soft skills toppings just short of the colour criteria of the Rubik’s cube as used in this context. Just soft skills!

What we are seeing is this ‘Pizza Effect’ all around us. This is what all of the employers feel when they say, “there are not enough talents available for hire and why this dearth is” and they aren’t even talking about the Rubik’s Cube yet. The hiring process in most of the large organizations are heavily skewed in favour of these Pizza Effects for most of them have invested heavily on their own technical training centres. Again, the deficiency is the topping.

Another aspect to the Rubik’s Cube dimension is the ‘people-centric’ attitude – yet another cornerstone of Emotional Intelligence. This is one of the most sought after and the topmost grading criteria for employers as organizations these days increasingly engage with their clients for solutions, strategies and businesses.

Since the Industrial Revolution to Industry 4.0, we haven’t been able to find a solution to this Rubik’s Cube of Organization’s People Attribute. The good thing is with various research till now we have come to a conclusion that the Pizza Effect and the Rubik’s Cube in synergy of talents and organization’s philosophy exists. If this could have a mathematical treatise then probably even by employing all kinds of mathematical tools from Calculus, Cumulative Algebra, Classical and Contemporary Algorithms and to even Topology available to us currently, we would still struggle to arrive at an equation and consensus. This is because Organizations are made up of people each with individual psychology and ‘project managed’ in a controlled work and purpose environment toward the planned collective goals.

It has become the need of the hour to mitigate this fix. Firstly, by imparting soft skills training at the educational institutions level and for doing this possible we have to up-skill the teaching faculties in these domains. A must. Soft skill training should be accorded equal weightage as the technical skills in the Management Schools to conclude in the Rubik’s Cube Effect beyond and surpassing the Pizza Effect. Needless to say that it should be a part of the curricula. At technical schools appropriate weightage in the core areas of soft skills must be imparted to the students including skills relevant at least to address the Pizza Effect. Guidance on routes to Rubik’s Cube could definitely be given and if possible included in the curricula. Secondly, the hiring organizations should impart these attributes with relevant case studies with a well-devised and structured curriculum plan so that the incumbents become ‘fit for our culture, thoughts, perspectives and objectives’. Thirdly, this also calls for an increased engagement and interface between the Industries and the educational institutions – both cannot exist in isolation. To sustain and prosper and to build wealth a business needs talented people and this input comes from Educational Institutions. This has far-reaching consequences right till a country’s GDP and economy. Fourth is the perpetual training both in their respective domains and the skills required to mitigate the Pizza Effect and to strive to achieve the Rubik’s Cube paradigm.

Remember! PwC’s 2017 CEO Survey report: Chief Executives view the unavailability of talents and skills as the biggest threat to their businesses.

Stay safe and stay indoors till mankind triumphs over COVID 19. We will!

More About Shanthi Rajan

She holds a Master’s degree with a specialization in Strategic Human Resources Management from the University of Wollongong and is currently pursuing her Doctorate. Her core areas of specialization and research interest include Strategic HRM, OB, Leadership and Emotional Intelligence. She is an affiliate member of CILT (UK) and a Senior Fellow of Higher Education Academy (SFHEA, UK). She is a certified S+EI coach from the Institute for Social and Emotional Intelligence (ISEI), Denver, Colorado and also certified in using Positive Psychology for coaching S+EI. She is also a certified ICF approved EIC Practitioner. She serves as an Advisory Board Member for a few academic institutions of repute. She has completed her Postgraduate certification (PGCert) in teaching and learning from the UK and her Higher Education Teaching Certificate from Derek Bok Centre of Teaching and Learning, Harvard University.


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