Time for Z
A New Generation of Project Talent Is Ready To Work
By Kate Rockwood
Move over, millennials.
Generation Z is about to steal the spotlight.
The oldest members of Gen Z—born between roughly 1994 and 2010—are finishing college. But by 2020, they'll make up 20 percent of the global workforce. Hiring managers and project management offices can prep to snag top next-gen talent by knowing what—beyond a native attachment to tech—makes Gen Z tick.
“What attracts Gen Z is so much more than tech tools and a strong project environment,” says Josh Oni, project coordinator global talent acquisition, CA Technologies, Datchet, England. “It's about collaboration, career direction and adding clear value.”
Junior associate program manager, Sapient Nitro
Location: New York, New York, USA
Experience: 9 months
Two Gen Z project professionals tell PM Network® how they got a running start.
After shadowing a project manager during an internship at Nike, Ms. Sheikh discovered a promising career path.
What attracted you to project management as a profession?
I was an information systems major, but I didn't want to get stuck in one development role and get bored. With project management, I felt I'd be able to see something from start to finish—and that would be pretty rewarding.
What was your role at Nike?
I updated a dashboard to monitor defects and participated in future scoping and planning sessions. It was an agile environment with daily status updates, and I learned so much. I was able to use that experience to jump into a project management role pretty quickly after graduation.
Do you notice a big difference in generational work styles?
Gen Z is a little more interested in what's new and bumping and what's happening on the tech side. Older generations seem more content, on a project, to leave tech elements to the developers and tech leads. It's not a very big gap as far as work styles go, but it can mean younger generations are a little more hands-on.
How can organizations best attract Gen Z project talent?
Create a great team atmosphere and then show it off. Project management can be so much more than timelines and telling people what to do. It's building relationships and really caring about the team. Showcase that and emphasize how important project management is to the whole process.
What are your career aspirations?
I'd like to manage bigger projects and bigger teams. And I don't want to be bored at work—I want a varied career.
Which project management skills will help get you there?
I think it's a mistake to focus entirely on how to better keep track of dates and stuff like that. The best project management is also about the relationships you're building and how to manage that side of things. It seems like there's always more to learn.
Junior project manager, Virtual1
Location: London, England
Experience: 12 months
Mr. Wilson first dabbled in project management after he started a business administration apprenticeship program with Virtual1 in 2013.
What makes a project management career so appealing?
I like the way you have to incorporate organizational skills along with people skills. The idea that I could interact with many different people on a daily basis to achieve the same goal is something that inspired me to pursue project management.
How did the apprenticeship program help you more quickly fit into your project management role?
It allowed me to gain an understanding for all areas of the business, which has been extremely useful since coming into project management. I am able to use my knowledge of the business when requiring assistance from other areas.
How does your Gen Z perspective influence the project teams that you work on?
As I am relatively new, I have no preconceived ideas on things. I believe I see the way we run things from a different perspective and can offer an outsider's view to any new processes. My manager can come to me and get a different opinion on the things that we are implementing.
How does your work style differ from other generations in your office?
I would say that as a Gen Z member, I am more adaptable and open to different methods of doing things. Other generations might be more inclined to spend a lot of time using one method for a given task, to a certain extent.
How can organizations help Gen Z graduates launch project management careers?
I think offering roles with a specific path allows you to stay motivated and work toward your goals and targets. At my company, I'm going through a five-year plan, progressing into a junior project manager and eventually to a project manager. Being able to see that path motivates me to work as hard as I can to progress as quickly as possible.
The idea that I could interact with many different people on a daily basis to achieve the same goal is something that inspired me to pursue project management.
—Myles Wilson, Virtual1, London, England
What motivates Gen Z—and what its members expect from their careers.
As digital natives, Gen Z workers see tech integration as a no-brainer.
Gen Z considers certain devices or approaches to be more essential than previous generations do.
Gen Z workers are ready to roll up their sleeves—for a price.
Mean salary expectation per year for their first job after college
expect to work harder than previous generations.
would be willing to work nights and weekends for higher pay, compared with just 45 percent of millennials.
Gen Z's top professional concerns are:
Sources: Get Ready for Generation Z, Robert Half, 2016; Society for Human Resource Management, 2016; Monster Multigenerational Survey, Monster, 2016