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Hans Balmaekers, Founder Of Sa.am, Based In The Netherlands.

Generation Y Hans Balmaekers, founder of sa.am, based in the Netherlands.

Hans, what do you consider typical characteristics of your generation?
Most of the Gen Yers I know are quite impatient. We think we know it all, which is not true of course, but we have good intentions. Most of us are eager to create a better world, full of ideas for innovation. At least, we think it should be better. Some of us happily point to others for the work involved. That’s a bit puzzling for me sometimes, it seems like there’s two heavily divided groups within our generation. Some do care a lot and some don’t give a sh**. Overall, I think the first group represents the majority.

What do you expect from corporate leadership in today’s business world?
I value transparency and ‘walking the talk’. I have known too many corporate leaders who told everybody what they must do, and how they must change and so on, but then did exactly the opposite. Integrity is another aspect. Sometimes it feels decisions being made and all the politics involved are based purely on self-interest, and that’s not what I expect of leaders. The third thing is showing real leadership, not managing by fear. Business has the biggest impact on life on the planet, shouldn’t business leaders be more mindful of that? If they were, they would lead differently.

What engages you most in the workplace and what makes you go the extra mile?
Working with others on projects we believe in. That’s key – nothing to add to that.

Hans Balmaekers, founder of sa.am, based in the Netherlands. Generation Y

Hans Balmaekers, founder of sa.am, based in the Netherlands. Generation Y

What is your preferred way to communicate in the workplace?
That depends. With most of my Gen Y peers I communicate with the tool I have at hand, whether it’s text message, Facebook or email. But with others, and basically for all more important, personal and longer conversations, it’s best to talk face 2 face. And I count Skype as face 2 face, by the way. Lächelnd

What kind of development opportunities do you expect to be offered by your employer?
The funny thing is that I know my personal development is designed by people who think they know what’s best for me. So we all go through training programs with pre-set goals and stuff, and everybody gets the same treatment. They are at the highest partly effective. I want opportunities that reflect my questions, my development needs. It might take a bit more time to find something that specific, but I know the impact is 10x higher.

Who has had the biggest influence on your career and why?
An internal client. I just switched careers from being a lawyer to an HR Manager and after 4 weeks, I again did not like it. I served a couple of departments, and one of the managers sat down with me and talked. He helped me see the job in a completely different perspective, finally leading to being as happy with my current work as I am. I am really grateful for having learned from him.

Please complete this sentence: For me, my job is…
… a way to contribute to change, make an impact and have fun with others.

What historic events, values or philosophies have influenced you most to become the person you are today? How did they shaped you?
It’s not a big event per se, but last year I saw – for the first time in my life – a video clip, shot at the ISS station by an astronaut, of the earth from space. I had seen pictures, but not a moving clip with all sorts of lights. It was moving. We live on such a beautiful planet, yet we fight over borders we made up ourselves in the first place. It’s such a fragile thing, yet we consume as if there’s an endless supply of natural resources. Seeing that tiny spot in space really impacted my perspective.

Given the world’s current political and economic situation, what’s your personal outlook for the next decade? What will be the main challenges for corporations and their leaders?
I believe we live in exciting times. Never before have we been in a position as good as we are now, how contrasting that might sound. We really have all the knowledge to solve our biggest challenges. Food, health, jobs, education – we can solve the crises fundamentally, if we really want. That’s the challenge for corporations, leaders, you and me – building our systems and institutions from the ground up, so that they reflect our true human values. I really have a positive outlook. We’ll mess around for some years, but finally we’ll succeed.

What do you wish your colleagues from other generations would know about Gen Y?
Well, that’s a good one. I think it’s that often, we aren’t as sure of ourselves as we seem. We also don’t know things, but we will never say that out loud.

Thank you, Hans, for these valuable insights!

About the author

Lisa Mangelsdorf

I confess that I work to live rather than live to work. But when I can combine my passions into my work, I work best. This blog brings together discussions about one of my passions which is connecting people. I endeavour to fight the norm by chasing flexible working options and change seekers, hence my involvement with this blog. I'm fortunate to be connected with a global team at GAIA Insights. Retaining Gen Y within the workforce is an issue for most businesses across the globe. For help contact us because we know EXACTLY what they want from the workplace and we can help your business retain that key talent.

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