Microsoft General Manager: Why digital natives don’t stay long in jobs
What are you doing with your life?
Maybe you’re a recent graduate, ready to put a tentative toe on the career ladder. Perhaps you’ve been working for a few years and want to take control of your life and put your experience to better use – if only you could figure out your big idea. Or else you’re sitting at your laptop, quietly figuring out how to make your mark on the world.
What you’re probably not doing is looking for a company that you can call home for the rest of your days. That’s because we’re waving a collective goodbye to outdated notions of success. We now want – and sometimes need – to embrace careers that give us the opportunity to try new things and explore our passions to make a living.
These changes in working attitudes are fuelling the ‘gig’ economy. A working model that involves taking on lots of different jobs or interesting projects, for shorter periods of time.
The concept is nothing new. The word gig was coined by musicians in the 1920s, at the height of the Jazz Age, as shorthand for ‘an engagement’. Artists, musicians and photographers have been working this way for years. But now this style of working is about to hit the corporate mainstream with today’s technology empowering entrepreneurs. Start-ups within the sharing economy such as AirBnB and TaskRabbit are making it easier for anyone to tap into new ways to earn. Etsy allows the creatively-minded to sell their wares on a global marketplace, while blogs and social networks like Instagram and YouTube help people build a profile doing what they love, and start generating attention that can help turn their passion into a career.
These changes don’t just benefit you as the worker. Businesses of all sizes are growing wise to the advantages of the gig economy and turning to an increasing amount of freelance support . Corporate managers understand that injecting a regular flow of external perspectives and fresh creativity can help them grow their organisations. By embracing project based working they can also adjust focus and resources as needed. Meanwhile, you get the flexibility to try a wider variety of roles in different environments.
So, this flexible world suits your ambition and way of working. You can accept that our world is constantly evolving and you want to play your part. Where do you start?
Don’t be scared to blur work and play.
Look at your own interests and assets and consider how they could enhance what you could offer to employers. For example, if you spend time volunteering for organisations including things like tutoring students, building schools or working in a homeless or refugee shelter during a break in studies, speak to your manager about ways that you can contribute that experience to your company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. You’ll get a chance to share your knowledge and experience while helping your firm to contribute to the community perhaps in new and innovative ways.
Creativity is your biggest asset
The ability to bring the outside world into the office, and provide a new perspective, is one of the biggest reasons businesses are looking to hire people like you. But having creative ideas is no use if you can’t express them in a way that grabs attention and gets your message across.
Experiment with tools and tricks that suit you. Try technology that helps you share ideas and information in a visual way, or services that analyse and unpick complex data to get your point across. Bring the outside in: discussions in social networks, things that inspire you and your peers or innovation you’ve seen in your daily life and share it with your teams as inspiration. Your ideas will sing if they’re centred on your own passions. Having some tricks up your sleeve in a job interview or your first meeting with your new boss could help set you apart from the masses. Set up time –virtually or in person – to discuss how these might work in your organization and how you could work together to make them a reality.
Build a network
Switching jobs or roles more frequently means you’ll need to get used to working with different teams, in different locations and across different industries. Today, there are really no geographical or technical barriers – your attitude and ability to share ideas and resources is the key to success. Being ready to plug in and get started immediately will make moving around that little bit easier and collaborate with your adopted team. Keeping track of your contacts and knowing who to tap up for support as you move around is essential, and makes working with like-minded individuals simple. The relationships you establish and cultivate will help you expand your knowledge, provide invaluable career advice and could even help you secure your next gig.
Be prepared to start again
The concept of a ‘regular’ day in the office no longer exists. ‘9 to 5’ is a thing of the past, and startups are questioning whether they even need permanent offices. So why should your career continue to follow a traditional path? Don’t be afraid to course-correct if the role you’re in isn’t working out. With employers increasingly looking for soft skills, focus on the transferable knowledge you acquire along the way when considering a jump between jobs or industries.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.