Justin shares his thoughts on 'Squiggly Careers'

'It’s a more balanced relationship, I believe, between the individual and the corporation.'

What happens to an industry when the next generation of creative leaders don’t aspire to be their boss? With a fundamental shift in both expectations and economics, the traditional value exchange between employers and employees is no longer fit for purpose. With five generations working side by side in the workplace; business as usual is no longer an option. 

At the same time, for the generation who grew up in the shadow of the meteoric rise of tech founders such as Mark Zuckerberg, the cult of the entrepreneur is in full swing. Of course, there is an inherent privilege in the ‘do what you love’ mantra, which has fast become part of the wallpaper of the creative industries. Yet that doesn’t obscure the fact that the very concept of success itself is in the midst of significant flux. Individuals are following their own Squiggly career path, rather than following the path set by the traditional corporate ladder.

‘Doing it for the man’ and let’s face it in the creative industries it all too often is still a male CEO or board that you will be doing it for, has fast become an unattractive long-term career choice for many. The perceived gulf between the stereotypes of the ‘linear corporate career’ and the freedom and autonomy of being a freelancer or entrepreneur is a significant challenge for the creative industries. When your primary differentiator is the creative talent of your people, attracting those people, and creating an environment in which those people can thrive are a business imperative.

With this in mind, Justin Pahl, CEO at VMLY&R London speaks to BITE on what the industry should do to adapt to this trend:

"I’ve had a very straight-line career. A magnetic north if you will. I climbed that ladder and I knew where I was headed. I used to worry about the ‘crazy decisions’ I thought the millennial workforce around me were making in the first few years of their career. I didn’t think they would be allowed to climb that same ladder in a less conventional way. 

But I’m glad things have changed. The world has gone squiggly. And now the hard part is finding the squiggly people that are ready to ride the rollercoaster. So, I don’t just encourage squiggly careers, I actively seek out the people that have taken them because these people help our industry to thrive. The diversity of people’s interests and backgrounds make us a wholly better and stronger workforce.

It means we look at how we recruit, evaluate and retain our talent with a different lens, to ensure we attract and keep the rich culture that diversity of experience brings to our agency. It’s also about flexibility. Flexibility to do that side-hustle, to work part-time or to take that sabbatical. And to have the time to re-charge so that we can be our best and whole selves at work. 

It’s a more balanced relationship, I believe, between the individual and the corporation."

Read the full article on Creative Brief here.

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