Businesses as we know was completely transformed in 2020, and the ‘new normal’ has percolated deep into the business ecosystem. The result is getting manifested in newer and dynamic business models and emerging landscape in people management. There is an increasing demand for business managers who possess the mental tool kit to assimilate change and move ahead with a growth mindset. A business manager has a very critical role to play in an organization. Typically, the role of a business manager is that of convergence of many functions. Right from close collaboration with sales and marketing to connecting with functional heads within an organization, the business manager has multiple hats to don.

Drawing from the best learnings in 2020, the year 2021 is a crucial year of implementation and future forecasting. So, for a business manager to accelerate in his/her career, here are the top skills that consciously need to be developed.

1.Design Thinking & Entrepreneurial mindset- Design thinking is all about stepping into the shoes of the consumer first and then planning the entire solution. Drawing from the principles of a solution-based approach to solving problems, design thinking forms the basis of an entrepreneurial mindset wherein user-experience stories form the basis of understanding a problem. This is followed by defining the problem, ideating the solution, creating the prototype, and then testing the product. Design thinking has over time, proved its efficacy in terms of:

• Opening one’s mind to innumerable solution possibilities to a single problem

• Generating a sense of awareness when it comes to a designing solution for others

• Bringing multiple perspectives together thereby, offering an opportunity for constructive collaboration

• Driving the innovation of the highest kind fueled by the mission of generating value for end-users.

2.Strategic Management- Strategic management is a crucial aspect of business management as it revolves around the evaluation of a company's business goals, vision and initiatives undertaken. In 2021, businesses will continue to evolve with different operational models. A thorough understanding of planning, resource allocation, and environmental impact can go a long way in making the business sustainable.

3. Business Analytics and Allied tools- Business analytics is one of the strongest pillars of operations in business. New-age business managers need to be aware of tools that can be leveraged to derive mission-critical data. These data can further be mined to gain significant business insights. Some of these are Qlik, Microsoft Power BI, Oracle Analytics Cloud, and Board. These data tools help the businesses in following ways:

• Identifying discrepancies and gaps in the processes and help in rectifying them

• Automating manual processes

• Minimize unnecessary costs by real-time process optimization and monitoring

4.ContingencyPlanning and risk management- The year 2020 proved that the capability for contingency planning and risk management must feature as an important aspect of business studies. This is because times are unprecedented and open to a myriad of possible challenges in the business ecosystem. Understanding from the year 2020, contingency planning and risk management have become a critical part of the planning process. The ability to foresee the impacts of forthcoming challenges helps on better capacity planning to eliminate possibilities of loss in upcoming times.

One of the most recognized ways of inciting changes in one’s approach in a business-critical role is by taking up challenging academic endeavors. One such eye-opening course, Executive Programme in Business Management, 26th batch of the programme is currently being offered by IIM Calcutta in collaboration with Hughes Education. This course has all the components that equip new-age business leaders to respond to organizational challenges in uncertain times. Taking up this course would be one of the most defining decisions in one’s role as a business leader in any organization.