Ready For #HeteroHippies ?

Last updated 6 Feb 2017 . 6 min read

#DiscoJockeyingInFintech #CupcakesOverCode #FutureOfWork 

Making Open Talent Economy Work For Your Organization



Hybrid Talent

My friend Dushyant works at India’s top fintech company. He has had a corporate career which is marquee – in media, entertainment, tech. But you will often catch Dushyant running the DJ console at India’s top clubs and parties. This is potentially his next career or side gig or beginning of a DJ school. 

Monika Manchanda from the #SHEROES community gave up a career with Oracle to set up Cinnamon – a top food consulting and blogging business. 

Do you see these young people hanging around with their cameras or camera phones, always ready to travel, majorly into Snapchat, Musical.y or Instagram – live blogging their lives. While many of them have college degrees and first jobs, their lives veneer more and more towards an open ended nomadic existence, where the world is their oyster. They also realise that dating and work as prescribed by their parents is tough – that system does not seem to work for them. 

Know someone who gave up banking to turn an author? Know someone who gave up software or telecom to set up a restaurant? Know someone who gave up the C-Suite to set up a social venture. These are not exceptions. 


This is Hybrid Talent – where a significant number of people have access to resources, information and risk taking to have more than one career in their lives and invariably of supremely different kinds. Their talents and abilities also mature and refine in their chosen area of interest. The future of work belongs to what I call ‘Hetero Hippies’ – a diverse range of folks custom fitting their success as per their interests and talents. They calibrate their employment options depending on their state in life, economy and personal passions. 


Discovery and Fit 

Software is chewing away at traditional jobs and industries. As the number of large-scale process jobs decreases owing to automation or decline of certain industrial segments, discovery and fit remains a key demand-supply challenge. Have you noticed, while the number of jobs has gone down, the number of platforms trying to solve the discovery and fit problem hasn’t. And that is because it remains a key challenge – companies still struggle to find the talent that will serve their growth. 

Verticalization of talent means that more and more specialised matching opportunities exist in a fast changing talent market. Discovery by function – design, tech, services and through every possible slice that can be is the key job market problem. Arc networks of talent are inefficient in supplying deeper needs of businesses. 

Constant Learning

If there is one word that describes the Open Talent Economy (OTE) – it is ACTION. Bias to take action and drive results apart from a constant state of evolution. 

Every body at work today is a student – and all the time. Instead of skills, it is a perpetual state of ACTION – key skills needed to navigate the new today everyday. These include: 


Analysis Collaboration Technology Intuition Ongoing Education and Negotiation

 1.    Analysis of constant streams of information flowing in from hundreds of channels 

2.    Collaboration across skills sets, time zones and more importantly across goals – the only constant as work is reshaping for a no walls existence

3.    Extreme use of Technology and its constant reshaping nature

4.    Intuition as a differentiator in an overly informed world

5.    Ongoing Education to move up or side ways to divergent paths is a new work reality for everyone in it

6.    Constant negotiation as a way to thrive is a key worker skill – where relationships are more intertwined among stakeholders and least linear that they have ever been 


Industrialisation believed in manufacturing and standardizing talent. The massive MBA’s, engineering ecosystem is a product of that thinking. People with similar and mostly standard skills and attitudes. That worked well for the homogenous industrial world, - all automobile, banking, FMCG, manufacturing executives had linear career paths. This continued until globalization and digital take over happened. The roles and skills in this world changed faster than ever. By design, every company became a tech company. And that meant even shorter life cycle for skills. 

The demand for ‘today’s’ skills had to be completed via more open source systems and creating more space for diverse worker supply. Talent walls became porous. Eventually, tech and startups led to a dynamic where everyone could be a supplier and a demand generator of talent. 

Diversity is a core DNA of the open talent economy. An Alibaba wouldn’t have scaled had it not built its women heavy execution team along with an army of suppliers who come from all across the China. It's open talent stakeholders include – suppliers, freelance workforce fulfilling on demand processes among a forever changing sea of hands on deck. Airbnb wouldn’t have scaled had it not found diverse hosts – ranging from Mexican housewives to war veterans in Vietnam. 

Open talent economy is all about the range and reach – you don’t get a range unless you have all colors in the palette. 

Connected Purpose

Businesses and brands thrive when talent communities feel aligned to the mission and overall purpose of an organization. The Body Shop was one of the first to create community centricity as it built its global business of high-end natural products while serving its talent community with openness, support and inclusion. 

Similarly, organizations like Jet Blue who created a large remote support team primarily working with stay at home moms who found the organization closely connected to their need to balance work and home. SEWA in India created the first and the largest distributed network of women artisans who not only shared the mission of creating opportunities for women but also sustainably saving art. In this time of political turbulence, Airbnb is using connected purpose to steer its business and organization towards shared goals and vision. 

Barefoot college, Grameen bank, Asana, Wordpress, Reddit, Tesla, Amul, FabIndia, – connected purpose is a real competitive advantage businesses have as workforce communities or ecosystem communities become central to growth and evolution. 


*A conversation with a group of top business leaders at a global FMCG major around Open Talent Economy as a business enabler. It is a subject close to my heart for more than one reasons. Love to hear your opinion / ideas!


**Part of an upcoming book being co-authored by Rajul Garg and Sairee Chahal 


Sairee Chahal
Sairee is the Founder of - a platform connecting women to corporates and offers career opportunities, resources, mentorship. A believer in work-life redesign, serial entrepreneur, mentor, an occasional writer and mother of an 8-year-old, Sairee is India’s foremost women at work evangelist. She earlier co-founded Fleximoms and also worked with CII, Heidrick and Struggles. In 2000 she set up Newslink Services, world’s first newspaper for mariners. A winner of the Devi Award 2014, and a L’oreal Award nominee, Cartier Alumni and TED speaker, Sairee has an M.Phil in International Relations from JNU

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