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Generations Clash as More Companies Hire Millennial Executives

June 1, 2017

[eugene partyzan]
[eugene partyzan]

Major corporations are recruiting millennials into executive roles to jump-start or reinvent businesses, but the young leaders often struggle to gain acceptance from skeptical or resentful older colleagues, The Wall Street Journal reported May 2.

Since last year, companies like Caterpillar, American International Group and SAP SE have hired people in their 30s for executive positions. In January, Ford hired 34-year-old Musa Tariq as its first chief brand officer to help shift the automaker into new transportation services. Ford chose Tariq, who came from Apple, based on his reputation “for challenging convention,” said CEO Mark Fields. Tariq is the youngest of his 44 fellow corporate officers — ranks that historically have been filled with company lifers who worked their way up.

Recruiters say demand for young executives is growing, especially in areas like digital commerce and artificial intelligence, . As a result, nearly 40 percent of U.S. employees worked for someone younger in 2014, up from 31 percent in 2010, according to surveys conducted for the CareerBuilder job site.

Older associates, who find themselves in the position of having to prove their relevance to younger bosses, expect millennial executives to be arrogant and make mistakes, says Peter Cappelli, a management professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Leadership specialists say young bosses should admit what they don’t know and humbly seek advice from their elders. Amy Lynch, a generational researcher, says millennial executives can’t ignore baby boomer concerns “about formality, dignity and privacy.” — Greg Beaubien


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