Opportunities for work life balance and quick career progression are crucial factors for young professionals seeking a new role in 2019, global research finds.

The chance for early stage impact is also a key criterion for recent business graduates when considering applying for a job The opportunity for good work life balance/flexible working has been rated practically as important as salary when considering applying for a new role by young business graduates.

In a global survey conducted by CEMS, the Global Alliance in Management Education, of 761 recent CEMS business graduates from 49 countries around the world, opportunities for quick career progression and the chance to make an impact at an early stage were also ranked highly, as the third and fourth key criteria which would influence their decision to apply for a job. A quarter of respondents, the majority in their early twenties, would expect a new graduate to reach an executive level role in five years or less, with 75% expecting new graduates to have achieved this level within 10 years.

Roland Siegers, Executive Director of CEMS, said: “These ambitious young professionals are creative and optimistic, always seeing an opportunity in change. They crave quick career progression and the chance to make a genuine impact at an early stage. Importantly, our research adds weight to the idea that for this generation, work is not all about money - achieving a good work/life balance is more important than ever.

"It is important that organisations listen and act on the insights of the next generation if they hope to benefit from their ambition and gain competitive advantage in an uncertain age. This means giving young people plenty of opportunity to tackle projects that deliver real global impact as early as possible on their career journey, whilst also recognising their need to have a life outside of work.

“We already see this in action through our forward-thinking CEMS corporate partners, who recognise the benefit of working with young people on real-life, global business projects even before they reach the workplace, to make sure they can hit the ground running.”

Real life business

ABB is one such organisation that offers the chance to help young people make an impact and progress quickly before they even reach the workplace. Since 2016, CEMS has teamed up with ABB, the Swedish-Swiss multinational corporation focused on robotics, power, heavy electrical equipment, and automation technology, to have students execute multiple complex consulting projects across the globe, which have real business results.

Commenting on the value of Business Projects ABB’s Head of Talent Management, Audrey Clegg said, “Students have the opportunity to work on real business challenges. They evaluate decisions and plan sought solutions based on real data. The exchange of ideas between the students and business people opens the door to different approaches to problem solving. Students see how diversity strengthens performance, they build networks and they learn how to learn. As the pace of change continues to accelerate, those are the foundations for success as a business leader.”

Miriam Jarrouj, who worked on the ABB/CEMS business project at St Gallen in Switzerland and subsequently secured a role at ABB after graduating in 2017, commented on the research findings: “Although the salary plays a part, I have always been motivated to do something with impact, where my contribution can bring a change – even though I have learned that being patient and strategical with that change is also crucial.

“Being able to gain global experience, being constantly exposed to new challenges and look more for work / life balance (particularly as I now have a bit more corporate experience) is also really important to me. Finally, the chance to be surrounded by a great team also determined the final job choice I made, as you can learn and grow a lot by having a good mentor and a strong team.”

Further Findings

471 CEMS graduates named salary in their top three criteria when looking for a new role, followed closely by work/life balance (405), opportunities for quick career progression (390) and impact at an early stage (291). Opportunities for global travel was ranked fifth and inspirational leadership sixth, out of a number of answers graduates gave.

When asked what skills they felt will be most important as technology increases its foothold in the workplace graduates ranked social skills for example persuasion, emotional intelligence and empathy as most important followed by people management skills for example team leadership and motivation. These were both ranked above hard skills for example formal qualifications, data analysis and cognitive abilities for example creativity and mathematical reasoning.