Pivoting in crisis: How to build resilience and stay adaptable


Sponsored by GetSmarter, a 2U, Inc. brand

Ann-Mari Höfinger, Head of Product Strategy & Research, GetSmarter, a 2U, Inc. brand

What happens when humanity is hit by a crisis? Some of us will panic, some of us will lean in and resolutely soldier on, and some of us will adapt and innovate to not only weather the storm, but learn from it and evolve through it. A crisis forces people to respond to change, whether they like it or not.  

With crisis comes innovation. We witnessed this in 2020 when a major acceleration of digital transformation trends surfaced from the effects of COVID-19. With new strains sweeping the globe, companies continue to support millions of employees working remotely and the return to the office is less about when and more about how (or even if). 

Digital transformation is no longer a nice-to-have but a must-have in building business adaptability. The data verifies this. In the US last year, 10 years of e-commerce penetration was gained in just three months,1 with similar growth in South Africa. Within a recent study completed by GetSmarter, over 70% of professionals stated that their work had changed either significantly or had a complete overhaul in the past 18 months with technology as the major driving factor.2 This massive shift forced organisations to adapt quickly, and drove considerable change for employees as they tried to keep up with transformation in the business environment.  In a crisis employees will be tested. Individuals that endure change are those that keep their skills and capabilities aligned with the demands of the market. With skills replacement as high as 60% every four years within industries such as marketing,3 adopting a lifelong approach to learning is critical. GetSmarter’s research shows that evidence of continuous learning is now the number one element that hiring managers look for on a CV, and skills-based certificates are increasingly seen as credible signals of value.4 

In a crisis leaders are imperative. They keep businesses alive and teams engaged. Since the pandemic has started, the overwhelming emotion surrounding individuals regarding their careers is distress. Navigating teams through this will require compassionate yet action-orientated leadership.5 Strong interpersonal and leadership skills will not only be critical now but also in the future as we increasingly see parts of our jobs carried out by machines. Soft skills such as creativity, analytical/critical thinking, and emotional intelligence are attributes modern leaders will need to nurture. These human skills are increasing in value and can now be learned online as the world’s universities embrace digital education to reach a broader audience.6

The lesson in 2021 is to keep learning – to not only keep up with a culture of digital transformation, but to get ahead in a changing business environment. GetSmarter can be your dedicated learning partner and help you not only survive but thrive in your career, now and in the future.


1 (2020). ‘The quickening’. Retrieved from McKinsey
(2020). ‘The Future of Work Is Here’. Retrieved from GetSmarter
3 Burning Glass Technologies.Burning-glass.com. Occupation Analysis - Skills Explorer™ 2019.
(2020). ‘The Future of Work Is Here’. Retrieved from GetSmarter
(2020). ‘How to Lead When Your Team Is Exhausted — and You Are, Too’. Retrieved from Harvard Business Review
6 (2020). ‘The Future of Work Is Here’. Retrieved from GetSmarter