Start Ups

Managing the newest generation in finance isn’t as hard as some make it out to be. But there are still hazards.

If anything, members of Generation Y, assuming their needs are met, appear less likely to be lured away by pay than older workers, claims Brian Wilkinson, a board member at Dutch staffing group Randstad. A survey of employees by Towers Perrin last year found that pay was equally valued across age groups. (See “What Workers Want” at the end of this article.) It was also found that members of Generation Y ranked learning and development opportunities higher than older respondents.

Millennials “thrive on variety,” Wilkinson asserts, so companies “need to introduce some variability into career management” in order to hang on to them. This can be tricky for the parts of finance with rigid cycles and repetitive tasks, but Wilkinson urges that, whenever possible, offering a range of functional and geographical moves is the best way to engage — and get the most from — young employees.

Richard Gartside, HR director at Ernst & Young, says that the firm is “pushing engagement down much earlier than before.” Even newly qualified employees are able to consider themselves on “partner track” after only a few years at the firm.

Some see this as impatience. For millennials, it is simply ambitious.

Home and Away

Gloria Suen “hopes to make a big impact at a company” within five to ten years. So far, the 32-year-old has been on an increasingly familiar globe trotting path. She worked in finance at American Express in New York, got an MBA at IMD in Switzerland and is now an associate director at Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore, which she joined earlier this year. Working in the capital markets gives her a new perspective on finance. “A CFO deals with much more than a P&L,” she says, so the experience will be handy when, as she hopes, she eventually becomes CFO of a medium-sized business, maybe something along the lines of Standard Chartered’s microfinance unit.

Kujawiak is also thinking of a larger role at one of the brands in his company’s portfolio. He is considering returning to his native Poland next year, preferably with Saint-Gobain. He reckons that becoming a controller for a smaller brand or region in the next four years is “doable.” Eken and Garino are also angling for international moves in the near future, with their present employers if possible.

In addition to providing clear development paths that include regular job rotations, companies are mindful of a concern for work-life balance among the younger ranks. In a global survey of more than 1,100 senior executives released in September, the Association of Executive Search Consultants found that 25% of respondents cited having programmes to improve work-life balance, up from 8% in a 2006 poll.

But how much of this is driven by needy millennials? “Growth in awareness of work-life balance transcends the generational divide,” reckons Gartside of Ernst & Young. “Because it is emerging now, it’s often attributed to Generation Y.”


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