Is there room in the boardroom for Generation Y

Question-Mark-HeadAs globalisation and the fast pace of the digital economy speeds up, customer expectations shift, and the impact of social media rises, the global market place is now more complex than ever before. Businesses that want to stay ahead of the competition – especially in customer-facing sectors like finance, retail and media – need Generation Y to help them understand and respond to the big trends that are already shaping the future: understanding tomorrow’s customers; responding to the desire for more responsible business; and gaining a competitive edge in emerging markets.

Rapid cultural change has been matched and it driven by rapid technological and demographic change. Today’s consumers are heavily influenced by social media, which has given them more access to information about how companies do business than ever before. If the industrial revolution gave power to corporates, the digital revolution has empowered the consumer. Companies that fail to respond to Gen Y’s desire for good business find their brands tarnished and their valuations plummeting. Generation Y business leaders can add value by acting as cultural translators, helping their colleagues navigate the new business environment.

As traditional models of business leadership break down, demand for Gen Y leaders who understand these changes will only rise. Globalisation has created increasingly complex decision-making environments which require new skill sets and fresh perspectives that were simply not around when many of today’s board room executives entered the labour market. Simply accumulating decades of experience in a corporate silo no longer means you will become a successful leader. In the fast-paced, digitally-enabled, multi-cultural and multi-lingual market place, every company now needs to balance Gen X’s experience with Gen Y’s dynamism, inherently global outlook, digital aptitude and understanding of responsible business.

So who are Generation Y? Sometimes referred to as millennials – employees who entered the workplace after 2000 – they are broadly classified as those born in the 1980s and early 1990s. They are characterised as a tech-savvy group, whose members are visionary, highly ambitious and not afraid to fail or to speak their mind. Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin are among the elite few who have become standard-bearers for this generation.

The influx of these fresh, talented individuals, many of whom find themselves among the business elite at a relatively young age, has proved a magnetic draw for organisations. Some businesses in pursuit of greater diversification have sought to bring Generation Y on board through such strategies as reverse mentoring (junior staff advising seasoned executives) or mergers and acquisitions, thus subscribing to a meritocratic culture that helps push aspirational young people to the top table.

The problems of ‘generation integration’ in the boardroom do not only lie with senior executives. Being a director, particularly of a large multinational, is not just about applying a standard set of procedures that might occasionally benefit from a shake-up and youthful energy.

Understanding that it can take time for individuals, particularly those of a different generation, to ‘click into’ the language of a board and have their point heard by colleagues is crucial to avoid this imbalance of power developing.

Integrating fresh young talent into businesses has always been crucial but is not without its challenges. Each generation can disrupt custom and practice within an organisation, but the hope is always that this disruption can be a catalyst for something better to take its place. This is where it gets interesting, because Generation Y has not just opened up new markets with revolutionary products. Over the last few years we have also seen the huge impact of their input on core traditional industries.

A final view on the way Generation Y can disrupt traditional industries is akin to a new industrial revolution. While such rapid change may make some feel uncomfortable, an even bigger upheaval is right round the corner. Just behind Generation Y is Generation Z. Born after the mid-1990s these are the first generation of ‘tech natives’, who have grown up never knowing life without the internet. Their impact on the workplace could make Generation Y seem like a mere blip in comparison.

A Christmas and New Year Message

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

May peace fill all the empty spaces around you, your family and your friends and your colleagues at this special time of year, and in you, may contentment answer all your wishes.

Raise a toast to yesterday’s achievements and tomorrow’s brighter future.

May comfort be yours, warm and soft like a sigh.

And may the coming year show you that every day is really a first day and a new year.

Let abundance be your constant companion, so that you have much to share.

May mirth be near you always, like a lamp shining brightly on the many paths you travel.

Work with the best of your abilities in 2016 and show to the world you power to create wonderful and superior things.

New Year 2016 may turn out to be a year when you are put on the road to everlasting success and prosperity.

Be the change that you wish to see at your workplace and take initiatives to make things better.

Wish your tomorrow is more prosperous, happy and successful than yesterday and today.

Looking forward to another year with hunger and passion to exceed at work and you are sure to meet with success.

Let new beginnings signify new chapter filled with pages of success and happiness, written by the ink of hard work and intelligence.

May the New Year bring us more wonderful opportunities for success.

Here’s wishing you the gift of peace and prosperity throughout 2016.

The CEO Journey

Businesses must be able to learn and adapt faster than the rate of change in the respective markets. This is especially critical in times of economic, regulatory and business uncertainty.

Business and climate uncertainty increases the pressure on leaders to spend their time in the business, addressing the day to day activities that drive today’s performance and ROI results. These typical issues make tasking difficult and a balance to find sufficient headroom time on the business, considering how a leader must approach solutions to drive sustainable change and growth.

Sustaining growth and value in a company comes from making the right strategic choices and then aligning the business model and operational performance, stakeholder requirements and risk management to those choices.

It will take a good leader and his team careful consideration whilst considering the components of value creation and the important priorities in the short, medium and long term as spending time in the driving of the day to day performance of the business.

Being the CEO of a large company is like being the President of a small country. Effective CEO’s have mastered the delicate balance of leadership, hard work and innovation.

Many people set their sights on becoming a CEO from a young age, but what does that journey look like?

What should future CEOs prepare themselves for along the way to becoming a CEO?

On the CEO journey, there is quite a grooming process that most CEOs have experienced before they finally achieved that position. The road is generally both pressurized and tough and certainly not for the timid as well as respected.

The more traditional route is illustrated below, It’s called Keys To The Corner Office, and it was created by CEO.com. It breaks down the process of becoming a CEO into 3 steps which include education, experience and grooming. It’s interesting to note that the average age of a CEO at the time of appointment is 50 years old, and that’s of course after years and years of preparation, experience and working up through the ranks. If you take the non-traditional route to becoming a CEO which we already mentioned, you’ll get there a lot faster, but there is more risk involved. As always, there are pros and cons to both. You just have to decide which is best for you.

What To Expect On Your Journey To Becoming A CEO

CEO-Keys-final3aAnother key point for the CEO journey is organisational risk. Organisational risk is now on the radar of top executives, and it’s the CEOs – not Chief Risk Officers – who should ultimately bear the responsibility for risk management.

Organisational risk is generally broken down into three types of risk. First are the preventable risks. Examples are the risks from employees’ and managers’ unauthorised, illegal, unethical, incorrect, or inappropriate actions and the risks from breakdowns in routine operational processes.

Then there are the strategy risks. A company voluntarily accepts some risk to generate superior returns from its strategy. A bank assumes credit risk, for example, when it lends money; many companies take on risks through their research and development activities. Strategy risks are quite different from preventable risks because they are not inherently undesirable. And finally, there are the external risks which arise from events outside the company and are beyond its influence or control. Sources of these risks include natural and political disasters and major macroeconomic shifts.

External risks require yet another approach. Because companies cannot prevent such events from occurring, their management must focus on the identification (they tend to be obvious in hindsight) and mitigation of their impact.

An interesting report Exploring Strategic Risk, a global risk survey released by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL), reflects the views of mainly C-level executives, board members and risk executives from the Americas; Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA); and Asia Pacific regions, state; two-thirds (67%) of more than 300 executives surveyed on strategic risk management practices say the CEO, board or board risk committee has oversight over strategic risk at their organisations.

Finally, to cultivate a successful CEO journey is to create shareholder wealth in our turbulent economy, CEO’s within companies need to spend as much time on building and executing strategies as on operating issues. Those that do will build skills and generate strategic ideas that evolve over time. Rather than fear uncertainty and unfamiliarity, these strategic CEO’s  can embrace them, and make the passage of time an ally against competitors that hold back when the future seems dark.

A famous quote once stated “ The hills we climb today are only foothills, compared to the mountains that we will climb tomorrow.”

Should there be more female gender directors on company boards?

women BoD 3Most people agree that there are not enough women in corporate boardrooms, but there is little consensus on the best way to increase numbers and improve director diversity. Some countries use voluntary targets, while others employ tougher (often controversial) legislative measures such as binding quotas to tackle the problem.

The final report from Lord Mervyn Davies, who has championed gender equality in the boardroom, will show that FTSE 100 companies have met the target of having 25% women on their boards – double the number in 2011 when the target was set. Then, just 135 of 1,076 (12.5%) FTSE 100 directorships were held by women.

Davies, a former trade minister and chairman of Standard Chartered bank, will set a new target of 33% female board members by 2020 and widen the scope to all FTSE 350 firms. But he says the introduction of legally enforced quotas is unwarranted as the progress so far proves that the voluntary approach is working.

In Europe, binding gender quotas are increasingly prevalent. In March 2015, Germany became the latest European country to make quotas mandatory. Starting in 2016, major German companies will need to fill 30 percent of non-executive board seats with women. Germany follows in the footsteps of other European countries such as Norway, Italy, France, and Spain in instituting such a policy.

As corporate governance rises up the agenda, gender inequality in global boardrooms and a lack of diversity in senior decision-making is getting more scrutiny from the public and stakeholders.

Facts show that the glittering prizes are falling to women. General Motors, IBM, PepsiCo, Lockheed Martin and DuPont are among a couple of dozen giant American companies with female bosses. Oxford University is about to follow the footsteps of Harvard and appoint its first female leader; and next year the United States may elect its first woman president. Women still have an enormous way to go: the New York Times points out that more big American firms are run by men called John than by women. But the trend is clear: women now make up more than 50% of university graduates and of new hires by big employers.

women BoD 4Will this growing cadre of female bosses manage any differently from men? Forty years ago feminists would have found the very question demeaning. Pioneers such as Margaret Thatcher argued that women could and would do the same job as men, if given a chance. But today some management scholars argue that women excel in the leadership qualities most valued in modern firms.

McKinsey produced a 2007 and 2008 study, the consulting firm found that five “leadership behaviours” are seen in women more frequently than in men: people-development; setting expectations and rewards; providing role models; giving inspiration; and participative decision-making. It argued that such behaviours are particularly valuable in today’s less-hierarchical companies. By contrast, the two that men were found to adopt more often than women sound rather old-fashioned: control and corrective action; and individualistic decision-making.

Those who say women are better suited to taking charge of today’s companies also lean on two other arguments. The first is that women are better at “androgynous” management—that is, combining supposedly “male” and “female” characteristics into a powerful mixture.

This is particularly valuable in businesses undergoing great upheaval, which need a combination of command-and-control and caring-and-sharing. The second is that women differ from men not so much in their leadership styles as in the values that they bring to the job. They are much more influenced by compassion and fairness than men.

Campaigners are quick to point out that only 8pc of FTSE 100 directors are women. This statistic is the crux of their argument for quotas to lift the number of female board members. But their campaign misses a particularly pertinent point: 92pc of directors are men. In 2015, despite all the lobbying and proposed quotas, it is men rather than women who will decide the future of equality in the boardroom.

So, if men still have the balance of power, why will women win the argument?

Future leaders will realise that a perfect process doesn’t guarantee success. The best companies employ the best people, then give them the freedom to follow their initiative. Once it becomes clear that the only way to create a great company is to employ great people, the smart top men will realise that lots of “the best men for the job” are women.

The idea of hiring only the very best (people who rate nine or 10 out of 10) doesn’t just apply to the boardroom – having great people throughout the organisation, from shop floor to the top tier is a magic formula for success. Putting high-achieving women into the heart of middle management is much more powerful than board quotas. Promoting proven talent will ensure that women occupy more places round their board table.

Another big factor is flexible working. Within the next century I am sure we will be bemused by the concept of a five-day week. With broadband, email, Skype, tablets and another half-century of technological change, most office workers will seldom need to go near the office. They will be able to do their job where, how and whenever they want. A world full of flexible workers will be a big boost for women who want to fit work around their family. After a time, men will also see how they can fit work into their life instead of having to fit their life around work.

The prospect of a flexible working world makes it so much easier to employ the best people and, as a consequence, the best people will realise that work-life balance isn’t just management speak, it can become a reality.

So what is the answer, should we have a more balanced male/female gender board? Will it make any difference whether the board is balanced? Can a mixed board be the driver of better performance and a higher return to shareholders? I feel candidature should be measured on the best person with the credentials and qualifications for the role.

Why it pays to think before you share!

think before you share 1There have been many conversations recently on when is the right time to share a post and what are the consequences of posting an inappropriate post. Earlier in the year I posted a blog with wine and app messaging – do we find the truth.

Every so often we get to party and we end up having a couple more drinks than we planned. As adults, we get to the point where we know how to drink responsibly, but like they say, “I didn’t go looking for trouble, trouble found me.” When that trouble is in the form of an adult beverage, it can quickly lead to embarrassing moments. Whether it’s your office party, birthday, or you just got a little too far ahead of yourself before dinner, it happens. Of course, you know what happens next… you take out your phone and get to texting and posting pictures.

These day’s social media is one of the most popular forms of communication in the 21st century, with over 1.6 billion monthly users. Anyone can connect with anyone else, or find out information about them that may not otherwise be available.

In the wake of employers going so far as to ask prospective employees to hand over their Facebook passwords, a practice that has been heavily frowned upon by Facebook itself, social media ‘screening’ continues to be a common practice amongst human resource professionals.

According to a CareerBuilder survey, as many as 37% of employers are checking out prospective employees on social media before they make a final decision.

Beyond that, some critics say it’s unfair for companies to use social media as a factor in screening potential hires. It could lead to discrimination, they say, and it may screen out otherwise strong candidates who have done some things the company doesn’t like but aren’t related to work.

think before you share 2They aren’t just snooping around for, say, embarrassing photos that offend HR’s sensibilities. To suggest that HR professionals monitor social media to root out private activity that they personally disapprove of is to make light of real dangers and potentially costly and protracted legal and regulatory risks

But there are implications that could as an employee offer the employer opportunities for suspension, for example; you are not actually responsible for a particular post, you decide to take a day out at the rugby and inform your employer that you have a stomach illness, your employer has is linked to your Twitter and Facebook account and there is a picture of you taking a selfie in the rugby stand cheering on your team, which is viewed by your peers, colleagues and HR.

This is where social media can lead to disciplinary action, social media effects our business and personal lives, another recent blog that I wrote discussed the fact whether in business you can separate your business and personal life online, the facts are this is becoming increasingly difficult for anyone to effect this properly, your business life is your personal life online and your personal life is observed by your business life. In some situations you are hired by an employer because of your personal characteristics and high level of emotional intelligence with others.

One of the key problems with posts and in sharing is that because we live in a fast technological world not everyone reads all content or reviews images before liking them, sharing them and promoting them online, this time is usual spent on the train, in the tube or in between advertisements in front of the TV, posting information without a proper review and too quickly without thinking of the implications in the public domain.

All information once sent is recorded, the delete button has very little effect once you press the send button, so what is the answer?

Social media is viewed differently from employer to employer, not all employers have a social media policy, if you company has a social media policy, you should read the chapter and verse and pay careful attention to the guidelines and forbid yourself compulsion to post images and information that could damage your reputation and career.

Finally, It is simply too easy to turn social-media searches into fishing expeditions. Employers are human and cannot avoid being offended by employees’ private behaviour that goes against their values. Experience shows that employers fire employees for reasons having nothing to do with work. People have lost jobs because of their political opinions and religious beliefs. A photo in a bikini has cost many women their job. One man was fired because his employer didn’t like his short stories (too much sex and violence).

A wise man’s quote, “A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.”― Baltasar Gracián, The Art of Worldly Wisdom