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Careers in the Age of Disruption

IN OCTOBER 1970, Lynn Anderson sang a Joe South composition. The first line went like this, “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden…”

Today, that seems to be the message that job applicants get during interviews with prospective employers.



In 1992, foremost management guru Peter Drucker wrote “The Age of Discontinuity.” He characterized the last decades of the 20th century as a period of disruption and discontinuity. At that time, the essence and structure of the economy, politics, and society were radically changing. He attributes the change to four major factors, namely: “the explosion of new technologies resulting in major new industries; (2) the change from an international to a world economy-an economy that presently lacks policy, theory, and institutions; (3) a new sociopolitical reality of pluralistic institutions that poses drastic political, philosophical, and spiritual challenges; and (4) the new universe of knowledge based on mass education and its implications in work, leisure, and leadership.”


These four factors changed the landscape of careers in the future. Obviously, the future is now.

Exponential change

Drucker, and the other futurists, predicted that change would change – in form, speed, and intensity. Exponential change starts slow, accelerates but slowly at first and then faster, until it achieves a vertical climb that is extremely rapid and powerful. It can be neck-breaking and disorienting.

Visionary leader Seth Kahan explains exponential change: “Think about communication as an example. For tens of thousands of years, we had oral communication. Nothing changed until we began to write. Writing was the most advanced form of communication for about 6,000 years. Then there was block printing, which was born in Asia around 200 AD. That continued as the biggest breakthrough until movable type – the printing press – in the 15th century. The press took less than 300 years to propagate across most of the world. And so it goes. Today new technologies come out in parallel. Advances include simultaneous wireless breakthroughs like LTE Advanced, last-mile copper network acceleration, and 5G.”

In short, it’s not about small incremental changes in a linear fashion. It’s disruptive change.

Career implications

In the past, there were sacred truths about careers – home as the woman’s place; lifetime permanent employment; recruitment as putting a round peg in a round hole, square peg in a square hole; career progression as moving up a career ladder; employment as a regular job, etc.


In an age of disruption and discontinuity, all these paradigms must change. Anybody clinging to these anachronistic ideas will be thrown into smithereens and will never know what hit them. In the area of human resources and careers, many truths have fallen, and will continue to fall, out of grace.

In the past, new graduates were almost guaranteed regular work right after graduation. In the Philippines, industry’s absorptive capacity has gone down to lower than 20%. Today, options other than regular employment abound. Job applicants don’t even have to be interviewed face to face. We now live in the planet of the apps. It is ironic that as millions are jobless, large companies are engaged in a protracted war for talent.

I am glad that many HR associations today are holding conferences that update career people about the emerging future of work. The People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP), the premier national organization in human resources will hold its annual conference in a few months. Under the Presidency of Jesse Rebustillo, PMAP will finally be able to invite David Ulrich, top American HR guru, to grace its Annual Conference. I shall feature the PMAP conference in subsequent issues of this column.

Human Capital 2016

In celebration of his company’s 15th year anniversary, Yu Ming Chin is holding the Human Capital Conference 2016:HR in the Age of Disruption. It features an in-depth sharing of talent development best practices that can prepare the top companies and the elite HR professionals in the Philippines for emerging Age of Disruption.

Participants will gain significant insights into the latest HR global practices and technologies. CEOs and HR heads will learn ways to adapt to the new landscape and make them competitive in the raging war for talent. Top business and HR leaders from all over the world will tackle the most relevant issues in modern HR practice, including “Revolutionizing HR Capability, Global Competition for Top Talent, Disruptive Innovation in HR, Pivotal Succession Planning, Globally Competitive Leadership, Talent Analytics, and ROI.”

Yu Ming said, “This is our way of giving back to the HR community on the 15th year anniversary of Viventis Search Asia.” The event is on August 25-26, 2016 at the EDSA Shangri-la Plaza Hotel.

For participation details or assistance, contactexecad@ viventis-search.comor +632 6375 639.

(Ernie is the 2013 Executive Director and 1999 President of the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP); Chair of the AMCHAM Human Capital Committee; and Co-Chair of ECOP’s TWG on Labor and Social Policy Issues. He is President and CEO of EC Business Solutions and Career Center. Contact him at

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