Yes, academic performance is important. But good grades are no longer the determining factor in the workplace. This was the common message highlighted by a panel of professionals invited by the Charles Telfair Institute to speak at a conference held during its Career Day held on July 2nd. The speakers hail from different sectors and were invited to address students on how to improve job prospects.

Bank and financial services are evolving and the scope is getting “much brighter”, stated Afsar Ebrahim, Deputy Group Managing Partner at BDO & Co. But to achieve success, he stressed, one needs “the rights set of skills”, i.e. attitude. Because contrary to what people may think, financial services “is a people’s business, you need to be people friendly”.

Concurring on this line, Cédric de Spéville, CEO of Food & Allied Group, stressed that young job seekers need to be “curious”, to “listen and be open” and to “help”. Because employers “look for someone who can appreciate the help of others”, insisted Danielle Wong. The chairperson of the National CSR Committee seized the occasion to express her surprise at the number of young graduates who think that, because of their university degrees, they are above certain tasks like taking out the bin. Employers, she insisted, are interested in those people “who know the hardship of others and who don’t put money as their goal in life”.

Students need to be open “to the world” and to life, said Vincent Montocchio, who is Managing Director of Circus Advertising. The advertising sector has also changed, he explained, with companies who focused on specific aspects of advertising now integrating all of them. Platforms for advertising are no longer restricted to newspapers and encompass more and more the Web. If the tools have changed, what is still essential to this sector is “finding relevant ideas”.

Samer Kassem, CEO of Aspen Global Mauritius, likened the degree students will obtain upon completion of their university studies to a boat. In that “it won’t take you anywhere unless you paddle hard”. The workplace has changed, he repeated, and the focus is now on “soft skills”, on having the right mindset to “turn problems into opportunities”.