For the generation of people born during mid-1990s, opportunities in enterprises are as exciting as new businesses. This is good news for large employers.
I often hear that students and recent graduates believe that a fulling and interesting career can only be in startups. Large international companies are often associated with routine, regimented corporate culture, slow career growth and well-established traditions of work. However, my personal experience and recent global research shows that international giants too can be innovative and fulfilling to the younger generation on the verge of entering the workforce.
According to a recent study conducted by Accenture, the number of U.S. university graduates targeting large employers increased by 37% in 2017 compared to last year. This trend has been observed for the first time in many years, as young people see that many of their predecessors have been underwhelmed by the startup experience.
Digital technology and traditional values
Today’s young professionals, i.e. generation Z are much closer in thinking to the parent Gen X than the millennials or Gen Y. Traditional workplace values are as important to them as the chance to build a successful business from scratch. This is good news for large employers that offer stability, a clear career path, learning opportunities and guidance from experienced mentors. This is especially true in high-tech companies that want to harness the power of digital and thus keen to on-board digitally native talent. This new generation is accustomed to digital technology from an early age and they enter the professional world with the right skills and mindset. The value of these qualities for IT giants like Microsoft or Google has been immense, and now it is a reality for industrial companies like Schneider Electric as well.
Although technological advancements such as the internet of things, robotics, augmented reality and machine learning create many new job opportunities for graduates, they require a markedly different skill set. Additionally, although formal education helps in preparing students for a career in a modern technological company, it does not guarantee success in one’s profession. In today’s world, it is important to constantly improve qualifications by making learning a way of life – this is especially applicable in the digital world where technological obsolesce is all but given. It is therefore no surprise that 84% of new graduates in the Accenture study expect their first employer to provide formal training and become a partner in their professional growth. Today, new digital technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality make it possible to effectively train employees and monitor results. At Schneider Electric, digital is at the core of our learning strategy as we strive to make learning available where our employees are. This involves creation of a one-stop-shop learning platform; offering superior user experience, including mobile and attracting learners with custom and curated open content.
Career development without relocation
A career in a global company provides a unique opportunity to experience in practice how the modern world is becoming increasingly united technologically. Today I see many young employees ready to take on global roles and it is now possible to be effective in such roles without having to move location or country. Digital technologies have changed the idea of a career path and employees are no longer expected to relocate to the company headquarters to have a chance to advance in their careers. It is now possible to contribute effectively to an international team from anywhere in the world. At Schneider Electric, we do not have a headquarters in the usual sense. Our global talent and diversity ambition is to ‘create equal opportunities for everyone everywhere’. To reflect our business footprint and to attract great diverse talent from all around the world, we have a ‘multi-hub’ model where majority of global leadership positions are located. We deliberately established this model so that our employees from all markets feel they have an equal chance for career development.
New economy – a source of talent
The two main historical markets for our company are France and the United States. In the past 10 years, we have placed intense focus and effort in China, Russia and India. Apart from providing opportunities for business expansion, these rapidly developing economies, in my opinion, are a powerhouse of talented people who are eager to change, learn and act. It is therefore but obvious that these countries have become an important source of talent for global companies.
Young professionals realize that for a successful international career, it is essential to have an appetite for new knowledge and openness to other cultures. On the other hand, large organisations are investing in and offering innovative means of learning coupled with opportunities for global career advancement. In the long run, it’s a win-win growth formula that will likely meet the aspirations of all.
This blog has been adapted from a recent article in Forbes Russia.