The current Generation of founders and generations

14 April 2016

It was not too long ago, probably a decade or so when one used to observe Business Head’s, CEO’s and Founders featured in business media with their respective age being quoted next to their snapshots or quotes. Media reports from the 90’s will suggest that 50 was then considered to be the most appropriate age for C-suite roles in prevalent brick and mortar companies.

Fast forward by another few more years and one will observe that the IT and ITES culture had reduced the average age of business head’s by a decade or so. CEO’s in their early 40’s were then a novelty and the media went to town about this emerging global phenomenon.

Snapping out of the flashback mode to today’s day and age, one will see a deluge of companies headed by youngsters in their 20’s and 30’s. In fact many of them are serial entrepreneurs, who have probably created and sold companies already at an early age.

What has triggered this phenomenon?
This is clearly the trend in the Startup O’ sphere with many a fresh college grad opting to launch his or her own venture. This is a result of the advances in technology and the plethora of business avenues that it complements in today’s industry. While industry veterans rely on oodles of research and experience to identify a business idea or a marketing strategy, such new age companies are far more brazen when it comes to launching a business. Furthermore the success of a range of Internet aided companies including global ecommerce platforms like Amazon and Alibaba has fuelled this trend. As a result, while veterans struggle to grapple with ideas that are supported by technology, it is the younger entrepreneurs who are in reality giving shape to modern industry by taking giant steps in innovation.

And success among Startups is quite common place in today’s industry due to various reasons:

  • Novel ideas never thought about or implemented before can be brought to life due to the life giving power of the internet/ technology
  • Technology is fast evolving and youngsters today in colleges understand this space better than industry veterans
  • With industry analysts and VC’s backing them up, young entrepreneurs have nothing to lose as they do not have family pressures and other restricting baggage
  • The industry is in its infancy and analysts themselves are trying to gauge when it will mature and what direction it is bound to take in the long run

What this means in interpersonal relationships in the corporate sector

  • Many lack experience for informed decision making

Many young company heads tend to recruit candidates closer to their age simply because they are comfortable with them and believe they are easier to manage. This has resulted in ill-informed decision making which by itself is an opportunity at times but can also prove to be detrimental for the long term growth of a company.

  • They are exposed to immense stress as they have to take mature decisions that impact thousands of stakeholders

Frenzied competition is resulting in young leaders taking on pressure that comes with running successful business that lead to stress related complications over time. This was hitherto the domain of experienced professionals with ample grey hair and who are well equipped to handle such situations. While there are some maverick leaders who are able to sustain the stress, most end up redirecting their stress onto their peers while also impacting their decision making in the process.

  • Peers and juniors are typically far more qualified and experienced than the Founders/ Promoters of a Startups

Another new trend that has resulted from the Startup phenomenon is the disparity of age among management and peers and subordinates. With the decreasing age of management, many senior experienced professionals are forced to take up jobs in emerging sectors including Startups. What this means is that there needs to be a certain level of maturity in order to seamlessly work with senior industry professional. Young leaders need to ensure that they are not threatened by them and need to adopt an unbiased approach while working with them in the interest of the long term growth of the company.

In the words of David Ogilvy “If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.”

Opportunities
While the above phenomena can be nerve racking for many, it in reality throws up a world of opportunities for a young and vibrant country like India. It is said that more than half the population of India is below the age of 30, now retrospect that with the Startup culture. We clearly have a potential economic powerhouse in the making.