“I work to live, and not the other way around,” says Kujawiak. At the moment, 40 hours a week is enough, he says. “I have a wife and I like to see her.” What’s more, he blanches when managers treat their charges as “minions.” Though he hasn’t experienced this directly, he has friends who have, and “this could be what causes a snag between the generations,” he says. “There is a lot more focus on soft skills now.”
Farstad has similar feelings. In her experience, large companies tend to have “male-dominated” cultures. “I don’t want to live by those rules,” she says. At Lloyds TSB, where her line manager and the managing director of her unit are women, her team promotes “inclusive and collaborative” behaviour. She says she likes the fact that her superiors “encourage feedback and input” from across the ranks.
As economies slow and layoffs mount, will the desires of Generation Y still be met? “For Generation Y, everything has worked out so far,” says Jill Storey, a partner in KPMG’s international executive services practice. Now, many companies will “ask people to do things they don’t want to do,” she adds. How will the millennials react?
They respond with typical confidence, which is either inspiring or naïve, depending on your point of view. “Companies are looking for good, young people,” says Eken. “With the international experience I have, I don’t see any reason to worry.” For Kujawiak, “My skills are marketable enough that I won’t have a problem in the long term.” Similarly, Garino sees “no problems finding a job; finance is a good field in this regard.”
In London, where the economic turmoil is taking a heavy toll on the city’s financial-services community, not only is Farstad unfazed, but she also sees the downturn as another chance to develop her skills, akin to when she qualified as an accountant with CIMA last year. “My generation should welcome this period,” she says. “It will be a great learning experience.”
Jason Karaian is deputy editor at CFO Europe.
Additional reporting by Gabor Taroczy, an intern at CFO Europe.