Smart Gen Z’s are awesome – but who gets the coffee?

Chief Executive Officer Gavin White discusses 26 Degrees' hiring philosophy and the contribution of smart Gen Z's to the company's success.

As CEO of a Financial Services organisation I have been building with a core team of leaders for over ten years I can say that without a doubt, the best decision our management team has made is committing to building our business from the bottom up, using the smartest young people we could find.

One of the first things we did was establish a significant internship program.

We did it differently to most.

We paid the interns as much as we could possibly afford. We implemented a work culture of respect and flexibility which appealed to Gen Z’s. We then trusted them. But gave them lots of support.

We put them in meaningful roles and gave them immediate career paths. This wasn’t easy with many only able to work two or three days a week as they finished their studies but the teamwork that was necessary to pull that off really seemed to come naturally to this generation. It’s certainly not the cut-throat, dog-eat-dog world of Investment Banking I cut my teeth in. I will never forget being introduced to a new colleague at Bankers Trust in the 90’s. My outstretched hand was met with a curt rebuff, “no friends in money”. That kind of treatment is foreign to this generation – and so it should be.


Gavin White - Chief Executive Officer

Our focus on interns has been a great success. Our company is now well known amongst the undergraduate communities. The quality of the applicants is astounding. The people we have hired from this cohort have proven to be unrelenting in their pursuit of excellence. Two of our first interns are now eight years into their careers and are already at C-level positions globally.

Over two thirds of our employees are under 30. It makes for a lively and vibrant working environment. But more importantly, it has contributed to our global success.

What I have noticed is that Gen Z’s just get on with it. Somewhere along the line they managed to pick up the reputation of being a lazy generation. They’re definitely not lazy. They just shy away from pretense. They loath doing things that are not valuable, or are just formalities. Put a Gen Z intern into a mindless rotation program and you will have trouble engaging them, especially the truly remarkable talents. You certainly won’t get the best out of them.

In our experience, smart young Generation Z’s are an underappreciated and underutilised resource. At 26 Degrees, age has absolutely no meaning. The most talented and passionate people are promoted – as quickly as possible.
Gavin White
Chief Executive Officer

But giving interns meaningful responsibilities immediately does have its downside. There are many times when I walk through the Dealing room looking for the least crucial young employee to send downstairs for coffees. It’s when I get to the end of the room that I realise, with equal parts humility and excitement, that the most logical person to send on an errand away from their desk, is me.

If you would like to apply for 26 Degrees’ Finance FastTrack Internship program, click here

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