Consider passion, innovation and best work life fit in career choices

Standing in front of an audience of about 150 teenage girls, I felt a responsibility to be radically honest. I was keynoting at the Suffolk County Women’s Services – Teenage Girls Entrepreneur Conference, one of 40 mentors spending the day with these young women reviewing their career dreams.

The most important message that I shared, had to do with them. I felt that their core passions and competencies would fuel their career more than just about anything else. That meant:

  • Creating their own personal definition of success
  • Developing a way to cultivate resilience and serenity to better handle curves in career
  • And setting their eyes on their significant personal career mission

From discussions – to vision boards – to group marketing projects, we interacted on many levels. While most of these young women had specific career trajectories in mind, they knew that they would have to be proficient in technology no matter their career track. And they also heard that it’s not enough to be good at just one thing anymore, because it is unlikely that they will spend their entire career at one company.

Finally, I shared that a baseline skill to compete in a 24/7 high-tech world is the way in which they choose to handle their work life fit. It’s key toward stewarding the innovation and creativity that are likely to differentiate them from the rest in the years to come. The Key word: innovation.

Innovation is key

A recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the 2011 CEO Survey, examined how companies are approaching business in a post-crisis global environment. Considering technology, global competition, emerging markets, talent mobility, demographic shifts in the working pool, and the coming talent shortage, the CEOs indicated that innovation was a huge driver of profit – despite the headwinds of global uncertainty.

“80% of CEOs in our survey believe innovation will both yield efficiencies and lead to competitive advantage—another 78% expect it will generate new revenues.”

And, that means talent attraction and retention are paramount to foster innovation.

“Most CEOs say they plan to use more ‘non-financial’ rewards. These approaches can take many forms, but they often involve training and mentoring ‘me’ programs, with a closer focus on career trajectories. …Filling skills gaps begins with companies’ making themselves more attractive to potential and current employees, and looking for better ways to develop and deploy staff globally.”

Workplace Flexibility

Big business is experimenting with new talent management models. One way for companies to be more attractive to the best employees is to employ workplace flexibility practices, some designed for better work life balance. We’re hearing more about this idea as evidenced in studies by the Families and Work Institute and the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program.  PricewaterHouse’s CEO survey echoes the sentiment. Here’s a quote from the report:

“Generation Y is much more focused on work life balance. They want to get recognition much more quickly. The idea of being mentored by a senior manager is very attractive. But there’s less of the ‘time served’ mentality before they expect to see reward.”

Vivien Broughton, Career Development Manager, Europe & African Unit, Transocean

Career trajectory in the future workforce

In conclusion, I told these young women to keep a watchful eye on the following underlying trends:

  1. As it needs to be creative and innovative, talent is more likely to be multi-skilled, fast moving and hard pressed to stay with one company for more than a few years.
  2. Talent will need to be nurtured and allowed to flourish to stay relevant. That means employees will need incentives such as a more comfortable merge between their working and living experience in order to be productive and efficient.

You can check out my talk to the girls below. What do you think are the core competencies in the future workforce?

  • Diana Antholis

    I’m so happy this was provided to teenage girls. I have been hearing much chatter lately about high school kids needing more direction and guidance.
    You hit the key point here: productivity. Gen Y is all about work life fit because they know what is important and they have no problem working really hard to get there – as long as there is time for a life too. If they can be as productive in 5 hours vs. 8 hours, why should they be forced to stay at work longer? As long as the work is not compromised, this, to them, is a viable option.