TR2050 interviews Ravin Jesuthasan: “We need to be agile in meeting talent on their individual terms.”
Member Interview

Futurist, author and speaker Ravin Jesuthasan’s new book provides invaluable insight for the forward-looking reward professional at TR2050.

Described by many as a futurist and global thought leader, Ravin Jesuthasan has spent many years exploring organisational and workforce transformation, from consultancy to research. He is currently Global Leader of Mercer’s Transformation Services business, prior to which he was a managing director and global business leader at Willis Towers Watson for over 26 years and a consultant with Accenture’s strategy consulting practice.

Alongside his role at Mercer and running various research projects on behalf of the World Economic Forum, Ravin is an author and has multiple books and articles to his name. His most recent book, Work Without Jobs: How to reboot your organization’s work operating system, was co-authored with his long-term collaborator John W Boudreau and is a Wall Street Journal bestseller, as well as the #1 bestselling new release on Amazon.

Work Without Jobs follows his two previous books that interrogated the future of work (Lead The Work: Navigating a World Beyond Employment and Reinventing Jobs: A 4-Step Approach for Applying Automation to Work) but dives deeper, “delving into deconstruction and presenting it as a fundamental element of the new work operating system that we think is essential to navigating the world of work,” Ravin says.

TR2050 sat down with the esteemed futurist to find out more about his book and his predictions for the future of reward:

Why do you think reward leaders should read your book?

The new work operating system we discuss in Work Without Jobs, with its foundations in tasks and skills instead of jobs as the currency of work, will transform everything we know about HR, not the least of which is how we reward talent. Reward leaders are increasingly going to be asked to develop reward systems that are agile in meeting talent on their individual terms versus forcing them to comply with a traditional one-size-fits-all design. This book illustrates what such reward programmes look like, with frameworks and case studies, and provides suggestions for reward leaders on how they can experiment and manage the transition from their traditional structures.

Tell me a little about your co-author – where did you meet and why did it feel you’d make a good partnership for this book/topic?

John Boudreau is one of my dearest friends. He is one of the most prominent academics in HR with a reputation for thought leadership that is second to none. We have written four books and countless articles together over the last 10 years. We were introduced to each other in 2006 by a mutual friend who thought we had much in common and could benefit each other’s work. Boy, was she right! I think we nicely blend the academic and practitioner perspectives.

What are your predictions on how reward may change in the coming years?

I believe we are going to see reward become far more flexible in meeting the needs of the workforce, with much greater personalisation and different mechanisms for rewarding development/skills acquisition and contribution. Reward will be at the forefront of reducing the frictional cost of employment. Longer term, I see reward becoming the glue for connecting a disparate and distributed workforce to an organisation’s mission and purpose.

What three pieces of advice could you offer our TR2050 Members as the try to develop strategies for rewarding workers in 2050?

  1. Understand how you can stay ahead of the evolution of your organisation’s business model
  2. Challenge yourself to re-envision the purpose, structure and design of rewards
  3. Experiment and create proofs of concept to make your ideas tangible for others


What do you enjoy about interrogating the future of work?

It is never static and is constantly evolving due to the multiple forces that shape it. It challenges me to continuously learn, unlearn and relearn; to quote the great futurist Alvin Toffler.

What led you into this sector/industry in the first place?

I am a re-treaded finance guy who loved combining analytics with how people and organisations operate and make decisions. My personal journey has been one of perpetual reinvention from finance to strategy to human capital. And I am not done yet!

What were your earliest ambitions as a young person?

I was always a little entrepreneurial. Early on, I wanted to follow my father into engineering but quickly realised that I was rubbish at it! But in the process, I discovered that I loved data and analytics if they had a dollar sign in front of them. That led me to business school for my bachelors and masters in finance, before becoming a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). I never really thought about a career but was always curious to expand my horizons and try and ‘look around corners’.

What topic would you like to delve into next?

I have actually started work on my fifth book and will be writing it with the MIT Press once again. It is focused on the reinvention of the organisation and the journey to a skills-based enterprise.

Read more about Ravin Jesuthasan on his personal website. More information on his new book with John M Boudreau, Work Without Jobs, is also available on his website.

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