Often, millennials (young people born between 1981 and 1996 by Pew Research) all over the world are described as the growing majority of tech savvy people who are transforming this generation through the power of digital platforms such as social media.
Speaking at the just ended Standard Chartered Bank Millennial Leadership Week, Lucy Quist presented data that challenged the accuracy of this description, particularly for the African millennial. She showed her millennial audience statistics from the AFDB 2017 African Economic Outlook which indicated that millennials make up less than 30% of the African population. Interestingly, young people of 19 years and below make up the majority of Africa, taking up to 51% of the entire population.
UNDERSTAND YOUR CONTEXT
The international business leader shared these statistics as she introduced her topic of discussion; Preparing for The Next Level. She explained that as young people preparing to take on the reigns of leadership, it is key for African millennials to understand not only their generation but also, the generation coming after them who will make up most of the populace they will be serving. Again, backing her arguments with data, Lucy Quist explained that most African millennials are not sufficiently digital and connected as is usually assumed of the millennial generation. A 2017 report from Internet World Stats indicated that internet penetration in Africa was 29%. Basing her arguments on this statistic, Lucy Quist explained that this low access to the internet shows a clear disparity between the African millennial and millennials from other parts of the world in terms of connectivity and access to technology.
She pointed out that it was quite easy for connected millennials to assume that many people in their generation are well connected, but this is not the case in Africa. Again, she used this scenario to stress on the importance of understanding the market for millennials to design the right products and systems that will serve the African market as young business leaders.
Despite their numbers and low level of connectivity, Lucy shared that African millennials are an ambitious group of self-motivated people who are conscious about their contributions to their communities. As reports from GEOPOLL indicate, about 76% of some African millennials strongly agree that the future of Africa depends on them.
She encouraged that it was these characteristics that must be focused on and harnessed to enable this young generation lead Africa and create real prosperity for the continent.
Aside understanding their context, Lucy Quist stressed on the need for African millennials to be entrepreneurial in their thinking and approach to work. She reminded her audience about the exponential growth the continent will witness over the next 30 years, generating 1 billion more people to serve. This demand, she indicated, should inspire young people to develop solutions that will create wealth for the continent, go beyond the continent and serve generations to come.
Leading ethically was one of the key issues discussed by the business leader. She explained that ethical leadership was not just a nice to have but a key indicator for growth and prosperity. Lucy Quist shared that, even though young people may come into environments where unethical practices were the norm, they must never compromise in doing the right thing.
The disparity between different generations in the workplace pose a challenge to communication, engagement and motivation. The Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) Millennial Leadership Week celebration was organized to celebrate the unique characteristics and outlook of millennials in the world of work. Globally organisations like the SCB are adopting systems and mindsets to accommodate the growth and enable the empowerment of this vibrant generation. This was the focus of the week-long celebration organized by Standard Chartered Bank, Ghana.
The talk in pictures: