Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  07 Dec 2011

HR: Top Appointments for Young Professionals – a Bold Step


Recent Gauteng Business News

The world is advancing at a rapid pace, with corporate leadership striving to keep up as younger professionals are being appointed into the hot seat at more and more companies globally, in order for Boards to leverage on their progressive education, insight into new and creative areas, business technology acumen and their desire to embrace opportunities. Is it time for the old boys to move over and make way for the new age executive‘

Nicolene Di Bartolo, MD of Nicolene Di Bartolo Executive Search says, “Companies that engage younger executives have taken the bold step to concur that the business world is evolving, technology is advancing and companies are seeking ways to do things differently. These trends are identified in multiple industries, where younger executives are communicating more successfully with Generation X and Y markets who are far more sophisticated than prior generations. Nowadays it’s more about intellectual capacity and emotional intelligence and a “can do” attitude, than decades of experience.”

So What is Really Fuelling this Growing Trend for Young Professionals‘

A recently appointed 30Â’s CEO for a global organisation mentions that companies are seeking out younger professionals who can share the vision of the Exco team.

“Appointing a seasoned professional who is old school and has only 10 more years to offer an organisation doesn’t support successful succession planning. Multinationals are trying to up-skill their successors from an earlier age; building long term careers with strong personnel.”

“Younger executives may be less experienced but they are far more flexible, less stubborn and have less of an ego, allowing for objective decision making. These executives need to earn their reputation and feel the need to prove themselves within the work arena, whereas the older executive can more easily rest behind their status. The younger executive also tends to think out-the-box and is not blinded by the old method of doing things. They are prepared to challenge the status quo and are less inclined to follow pre-set patterns. Ultimately, they lean a little further out the window; being prepared to take risks.”

What about the older executives – where do they fit into this equation‘

Di Bartolo says, “Older executives who have risen through the ranks often feel entitled. They can sometimes lose the edge and have less to prove. Business has evolved so much that many executives can end up being stuck in a time warp. They are less inclined take risks or to rock the boat. Younger executives want to make a point – they are not there because they worked their way up the ladder, they have energy and fortitude and take the necessary decisions to prove their prowess. On the other hand, an older executive has the experience, wisdom, insight and ultimately are more prone to build relationships.”

“Companies with an older culture may also find it more difficult to integrate a younger executive.”

Indeed there is a place for both the seasoned and the new age executive, with each party bringing something special to the table.

Young Professionals - So When Do I Need a Younger Executive‘

Younger executives are ideally suited to situations where Generation X and Y are key target markets, being technologically savvy is vital and where the executive is expected to roll up his sleeves and “get his hands dirty”.

The new age executive will put stimulating ideas on the table, involve himself in the operation and constantly challenge and question.

Di Bartolo mentioned that organisations however, need to consider this kind of appointment carefully, as the wrong appointment could be costly. EQ is a key factor of any leader and if there is any doubt about an individualÂ’s EQ, further assessments should be considered.

It is also important for aspiring young executives to learn from the hard lessons that other younger executives reveal:

- Be straight-forward and direct in your communication.

- DonÂ’t be scared to stand up for the positives and negatives.

- Acknowledge and own your mistakes and provide suggestions on how to correct.

- Treating people with respect earns respect.

- Be flexible in taking on other duties.

- DonÂ’t play games with people; rather be upfront and clear as there is nothing worse than uncertainty for an employee.

- Learn the art of observation.

- If you are fair you can demand more.

- If there is a setback, know that you have tried your best and ask questions as to why it didnÂ’t work out as planned. Take the time to reflect and find the reasons why. Avoid repeating the mistake.

- Try and put yourself in someone elseÂ’s role in coping with employeeÂ’s problems and issues.

- Be visible and involved.

- Be willing to take a challenge.

- You have to love what you do. If you donÂ’t like it donÂ’t do it.

- Be yourself.

- You will have to work harder to prove yourself to more mature and experienced colleagues.

- Know that your age does not have a direct influence over you being a good leader.

So as an organisation you are probably left wondering how you can tap into this fast growing trend and take advantage of the positive qualities these younger executives can bring to your Board.

Di Bartolo says, “It is imperative that your executive recruiter is able to identify candidates who think across geographies and who are not limited by South African business culture; candidates who actively seek out global best practice.

When sourcing a younger executive, companies should actively seek out candidates who display innovation, are effective in driving change and improvement, are technologically savvy, have cross-industry and cross-functional exposure and are focused on continually improving the companyÂ’s business intelligence. They must display the fortitude to make necessary decisions knowing that the consequences must be accounted for.

Ultimately the goal should be to identify those individuals that wish to assist the company transform to what it can become, rather than being stuck on what the company has always been.

This is the true essence of the new generation executive of young professionals.

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