How to keep growing when the world stops

HST alum Minu Nair gives us tips on how to continue down a path of learning and personal growth in times of crisis, based on her own experience.

When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters: one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.

I love this quote by John F. Kennedy, as it pretty much summarizes our lives in the past year since Covid-19 struck.

Covid-19 made the world stand still and brought about transformations in the corporate world and our personal lives in unimaginable ways. Now, having a Zoom conference with top HR leaders across several regions through six different time zones with the sole aim of creating a collaborative platform for dealing with HR challenges seems like business as usual.

zoom meeting

The golden question, then, is this: How do I keep growing and learning in times of crisis?

Put YOUR mask on first 

Nourish your body, mind, and soul. There is almost nothing that nutritious food, regular exercise, and “me time” can’t fix. Cook your meals at home, do yoga, and spend some time on your personal hobbies daily. 

How to squeeze all this in as a busy student, you ask? Organize and plan your day well, using an agenda or even Trello. Use the power of three to choose how you’ll spend most days. For me, it’s my studies, learning Spanish, and participating in the IE Public Speaking Club that allow me to keep growing in a concentrated way.    

Empower yourself by empowering others

Always give back to the organization you worked for or the school you attended, sharing your time and expertise. Take advantage of these contacts to strengthen your network—you never know when that good karma will come back around! 

For example, I helped review the CVs and cover letters of my former colleagues at Emirates Airlines who had been laid off during the pandemic, which helped them land jobs in other sectors. Now, I have stronger contacts in those sectors.

Discover a new passion

This is a tricky one. The only way to discover a new passion is to push yourself out of your comfort zone, experience lots of new things, then decide what you’d like to really dedicate yourself to. 

Having worked in sales and operations for years, I shifted gears to HR to discover that researching and contributing to finding ways to make human capital management more efficient is a passion of mine. 

Working as a Fellow for The Big Reset Research through the Josh Bersin Academy enables me to facilitate conversations among HR leaders around the world to discover ways to combat the challenges brought about by the pandemic. The topics vary from leadership and culture, to learning for the future, to DEI, to working hand-in-hand with Josh Bersin (my HR “guru”), which keeps it challenging and exciting. Being a contributor to The Big Reset Research report and researching material that could help the HR community worldwide is a big motivator for me.

In this capacity, the most important skill I took from the Master in Talent Development & Human Resources was how to conduct a SWOT analysis—understanding the opportunities and associated risks that I’m faced with in any given situation.

Always have a Plan B to keep growing

The big lesson the pandemic has taught us all is that you should never put all your eggs in one basket. Being a firm believer in the “two-careers plan”, I advocate strongly for having two careers in your life—based on your capabilities, transversal skills, passions, or simply what raises your curiosity meter! Keep learning with a keen eye for the future.

In a nutshell, enjoy the ride! As tough as it might seem now, the journey is just as important as the destination. Keep your options open, keep growing, and have fun!

minu nair ieMinu Nair is from India, and has lived in Dubai for the past decade. She previously worked with Emirates Airlines and graduated from the Master in Talent Development & Human Resources at HST in 2020. She’s a blogger, a bathroom singer, and a travel enthusiast. Connect with her here.