Preparing For The Future Of Work: Dave Katzman Of Onshape On The Top Five Trends To Watch In The Future Of Work

An Interview with Phil La Duke

Authority Magazine Editorial Staff
Authority Magazine

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Flexibility — Why sit in traffic for three hours a day when you could spend less than an hour commuting during non-peak times and spend the other two hours being productive? The rationale for these behaviors was rooted more in habit than practicality. Now, we understand that there are many ways to be productive, and I see more and more benefits to focusing on the work and not the historical practices of generations before.

There have been major disruptions in recent years that promise to change the very nature of work. From the ongoing shifts caused by the COVID19 pandemic, the impacts caused by automation, and other possible disruptions to the status quo, many wonder what the future holds in terms of employment. For example, a report by the McKinsey Global Institute that estimated automation will eliminate 73 million jobs by 2030.

To address this open question, we reached out to successful leaders in business, government, and labor, as well as thought leaders about the future of work to glean their insights and predictions on the future of work and the workplace.

As a part of this interview series called “Preparing For The Future Of Work,” we had the pleasure to interview David Katzman.

David Katzman is the VP of customer experience and strategy for Onshape at PTC. He focuses on reimagining how products are developed and deployed in the digital era. His expertise includes determining product market-fit and business strategy, as well as advising leaders on adopting new processes to build innovative products. Prior to PTC, Katzman was the vice president of Sales and Customer Success for Onshape — the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) product development platform company where he was instrumental in working with early customers and product development to determine product-market fit. In addition, Katzman was heavily involved in designing, implementing and overseeing business operations and policies — from customer success and sales to partnerships and business development. Previously, Katzman was a senior consultant at Deloitte Consulting.

He earned a Bachelor of Science in computer engineering and economics from Tufts University and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers like to get an idea of who you are and where you came from. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where do you come from? What are the life experiences that most shaped your current self?

Born and brought up in Boston. Big fan of the local sports teams. I am also an aspiring grill master. My idea of exercise is riding my Peloton bike while watching TV, and boating with my wife and kids.

What do you expect to be the major disruptions for employers in the next 10–15 years? How should employers pivot to adapt to these disruptions?

One of the biggest changes will be the shift from location specific hiring to skillset specific hiring. Over the past 18-months, we have learned that we can build more diverse, talented teams by opening our location aperture to cast a wider net to find the best fit for the job. While there will still be a premium on in-person experiences, the hybrid work environment is here to stay. Employers need to embrace this shift by being intentional with their hiring strategy. Some positions require a constant in-person presence, but for those that don’t, companies should find a way to capitalize on the opportunity to hire outside of their typical geographies. They should still schedule some regular in-person time to check in and for specific tasks such as onboarding and quarterly calls.

Despite the doom and gloom predictions, there are, and likely still will be, jobs available. How do you see job seekers having to change their approaches to finding not only employment, but employment that fits their talents and interests?

I’d suggest job seekers to broaden their search parameters. Look beyond the obvious role or location, look for something that excites you and that you are passionate about. Experience is important, but I think more and more employers are realizing that diversity in every way is valuable. With the growth of remote and hybrid work, what was once a job that was too far away or that would require moving across the country may be more available than you think. Go for it.

The statistics of artificial intelligence and automation eliminating millions of jobs, appears frightening to some. For example, Walmart aims to eliminate cashiers altogether and Dominos is instituting pizza delivery via driverless vehicles. How should people plan their careers such that they can hedge their bets against being replaced by automation or robots?

Always be learning. It is critical to continue developing new skills as we evolve in our careers. Technology has always evolved and eliminated a few jobs so we could innovate and create a new industry or career based on the very technology that created the disruption. Embrace change as much as you can, even though it is often uncomfortable.

Technological advances and pandemic restrictions hastened the move to working from home. Do you see this trend continuing? Why or why not?

Yes and no. I believe people are craving flexibility these days more than ever. We learned, rather abruptly, that we can do a lot more than we thought from the confines of our homes or similar situations. That said, we also realized that there are certain activities that are just easier and more efficient when done in-person, collaboratively. My belief is that people will become intentional with their working habits, without impacting productivity.

Despite all that we have said earlier, what is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?

I am optimistic that more emerging technologies will allow us to stay connected, be innovative and productive. For example, our software Onshape, allows engineers to collaborate in real-time and design products on-demand, irrespective of location or device. During the beginning of the pandemic, Onshape was used by engineers around the world to design lifesaving products within days — from ventilators to masks. Despite the tragic events of the pandemic, we’ve learned how technology can make our lives easier and better — no matter where we are working from. We need companies to appreciate their employees and give them the flexibility they need to stay engaged.

Okay, wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Watch In the Future of Work?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Flexibility — Why sit in traffic for three hours a day when you could spend less than an hour commuting during non-peak times and spend the other two hours being productive? The rationale for these behaviors was rooted more in habit than practicality. Now, we understand that there are many ways to be productive, and I see more and more benefits to focusing on the work and not the historical practices of generations before.
  2. Reduced travel requirements — I love visiting customers. However, we have now learned that there are many ways to engage with customers, and prospects besides in-person meetings. I believe we will find a new normal regarding business travel. I expect there will be a premium placed on initial “relationship building” experiences, but the average “check-in” will go from in-person to online.
  3. Embracing remote opportunities — When you embrace remote opportunities, you dramatically increase your talent pool. Instead of finding the best person for a job within 50 square miles, you can find the best person for the job, period. Over the past two years, I have hired many employees — both remote and local, and I can tell you first hand that our team, our company, and our customers are better for it.
  4. Virtual Events — At the beginning of the pandemic, organizations were scrambling to figure out a way to move their large, expensive, in-person events to digital venues. Now, we have all seen the benefit of virtual, or hybrid, events. We can now expand the audience globally, while reducing cost at the same time.
  5. Humanization of colleagues — The pandemic forced us to give our colleagues a rare glimpse into all of our real lives. Whether it is a kid crying in the background, a dog laying on the floor, or a cat walking across the screen (literally), we have allowed our colleagues into our homes and into our lives. This reminds me of what it was like when I was a kid and saw a teacher at the supermarket or video store (thanks, Netflix!). Up until those moments, the teachers only existed in the classroom where they taught.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how this quote has shaped your perspective?

I really love two quotes that get to the heart of the same general message and philosophy:

  1. “Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity.” — Often attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca.
  2. “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are…the true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” — John Wooden, legendary head coach who led the UCLA men’s basketball team to10 NCAA championships over 12 years.

Both of these quotes help focus my effort on the right things and doing them the right way.

Our readers often like to follow our interview subjects’ careers. How can they further follow your work online?

They can follow me on:

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/davidskatzman

Twitter: @DaveKatz23

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.

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