In the mid-1990s, the United Kingdom’s legacy telephone monopoly, then called British Telecom, had a massively successful advertising campaign built around the simple slogan “It’s good to talk”. PwC’s country managing partner Nick Kós could have borrowed that for the launch of the sixth annual Hungarian CEO survey; “talking to people” was one of his key takeaways from the evening event at the Várkert Bazár on March 9.
“Building trust in society, realizing that we have to maintain trust in business,” had become more important in the latest survey, he noted. He talked of a widening generation gap between the millennials companies are hiring and the current crop of CEOs. Speaking at the start of the event he said, “When we went to university we did not have Google or computers. Now we are trying to say to people who grew up with that: ‘Come and be an auditor with us, work hard and you will have an exciting career’. That generation gap between us and the CEOs was not there when we joined our companies.”
It has become something of a cliché to talk about the sense of entitlement of millennials, and Kós acknowledges that can be a problem, but talking exclusively with the Budapest Business Journal after the event he noted that companies also have to find a way of talking to the new generation. If CEOs can’t do that, he fears a “lost generation” of talented people who have built up an impressively long resume of companies they have worked for without developing enough experience to maximize their careers.
He also spoke about the “people-technology conundrum”: AI and robotics may offer a future solution to the skills shortage, but not right now. “We are trying to get people in to do stuff we won’t need people for in a few years,” Kós said. Summing up at the end he added: “We are going to have to try to bridge the generation gap.” The talents that are now most treasured are not just “those who have the right skills, but people who are prepared to invest in developing their career”, he says. And they seem harder and harder to find.
“Are we communicating properly with people?” he asked. “We have to explain ‘you can come in and you will get the experience; if you work hard you can build career’,” he told the BBJ. “We seem desperate give them what they want rather than explaining what they need. We are reacting tactically, and for our businesses that is not sustainable. We have to find a way to encourage them to invest in their careers.”
For a detailed analysis of the business survey, see “PwC Reveals Hungarian CEOʼs Mindset in Sixth Survey” from our last print issue, also available online.