Reflecting on Adaptability

In these times where nothing seems certain, being adaptable has become integral to how we live our everyday lives. Even after the world shifts to the new normal, adaptability will still be important, both personally and professionally. In 2019, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that 58% percent of employers see adaptability/flexibility as one of the most valuable skills in job candidates.

For some people, being adaptable comes easy and they can skillfully adjust their approach or action in response to changes in their external environment. For others, however, change causes stress and anxiety that can be difficult to cope with. Therefore, the Accounting, Finance, and Business Career Community Student Advisory Board pulled together some of the best minds in the Business School to discuss the cultivation and importance of adaptability at our event on April 28th.

With backgrounds ranging from baking, to the music industry, law, and executive coaching, the event panelists had experienced their fair share of career transitions and obstacles. Susan Cooper, currently a marketing professor, has encountered seven corporate acquisitions during her career. When it comes to adaptability, she recommends looking inward to know when you need to adapt. She stated, “You don’t always have to adapt to the situation, but how do you change the situation to work better with you.” This was important in her decision to transition to a new role after an acquisition by Unilever. Professor Denise Stefano echoed similar sentiment when speaking about her time at Arthur Anderson, and how she made the best of her position to gain the experience necessary to accomplish her goal of becoming a CPA.

Employer Relations Director, Julia Wexler, sees adapting as finding the problem and becoming part of the solution. For people job hunting during this tumultuous period, that might include assessing your skills and how they fit in the puzzle of the country’s job market. “Don’t apply to United Airlines,” she stated, “but maybe apply to a healthcare company in an accounting role because healthcare companies are facing a huge crisis and you can be part of solutions.” Adapting to these times challenges our ability to change our approach.

Making that change is not always easy. Former Executive Coach Victoria Drogin, looks to Natalie Fratto’s Adaptability Quotient, which lays out three methods to improve adaptability:

  • Ask yourself ‘what if’ questions, like what if something else were possible?
  • Look at what you can unlearn. Even something as simple as brushing your teeth with the other hand or taking a walk in a different direction will exercise your brain and flex that adaptability muscle.
  • Focus on curiosity and exploration. Be curious instead of reactive.

If changes are still overwhelming, the panelists recommended turning to hobbies. “Self-care and compassion help us to have the energy to be resilient,” Victoria stated, “it is one thing to be disciplined and do what you have to do… the other part is tapping into the passion that really motivates you.” Harnessing the power of your passions, as a tool for recuperation and possibly to find your ‘why,’ are vital in being resilient and adaptable.

The AFB Advisory Board thanks the panelists for sharing their experience and knowledge! To listen to the conversation for yourself, click the video below!

By Meghan Mickiewicz
Meghan Mickiewicz President Meghan Mickiewicz