How to future-proof your career

I was a (real shitty) computer science major, my only source of “Ds” as an undergrad. The year was 1997 and we were coding in the language C. One of the most challenging and annoying features of these languages was “memory management.” As a programmer, you were responsible for allocating RAM for all your variables.

To understand this, imagine that every time you got in your car, you’d have to estimate the distance traveled, then swap in an appropriate gas tank. Too little, and you wouldn’t make it. Too much, and you’d be wasting gas. This is one of the many reasons I sucked at programming.

While in college, another language called Java popped onto the scene. It did away with all these “utility” functions by creating modular and reusable components. It made programming way easier and more powerful almost overnight. (It couldn’t erase those Ds.)

The stack had changed.

Today, I marvel at the stack when I talk to my developer friends. There are stacks for Web Apps, E-Commerce, Databases, Mobile, and functionalities well beyond my technical competency.

This got me thinking of stacks in other industries. Were other industries’ stacks changing, thus impacting the tools we work with and thus the nature of work itself? Take media (I worked in my high school newsroom):

Or e-commerce, where no part of the stack requires coding:

In all these stacks, value moves up to those with the ideas, relationships (clients, audiences, and talent) and capital. The one industry stack I can’t totally understand is Financial Services. Yet one thing is clear, the stack is changing for retail brokerage (Robin Hood), asset management (Robo-Advisors), marketing (the industry can’t seem to get social/digital right), infrastructure (blockchain), decision-making (AI/ML), and much more.

How is your industry’s stack changing? Are you prepared?

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