The Gen Z c-suite movement driving company growth

Mikaeel Moti, Executive Director of the Moti Group. Image: Supplied.

Mikaeel Moti, Executive Director of the Moti Group. Image: Supplied.

Published May 11, 2024


By Mikaeel Moti, Executive Director of the Moti Group

Zoomers are no longer the fresh-faced, inexperienced kids glued to their phones as many people may think.

Currently the largest proportion of adults worldwide, members of this generation are getting married, buying homes, and, for some, taking up c-suite positions in recognisable South African companies – and for good reason.

Companies that emphasise Gen Z in hiring practices gain a substantial competitive advantage, as they tap into the minds of the biggest current market segment in ways their older contemporaries couldn’t.

With some turning 27 years-old this year, many Zoomers now not only have the qualifications and work experience needed to be eligible for executive positions, but have a deeper understanding of what the growing Gen Z consumer market wants and how best to reach them.

Here's what companies with Gen Z executive hiring practices stand to gain:

1. Merging old with new

Younger customers have distinct worldviews and consumption habits that differ from their older counterparts, which means that traditional marketing and branding tactics are not as effective as they once were.

Here, Gen Zs’ relative inexperience compared to other executives with 30 plus years of experience can even be an advantage, as they are less likely to accept ‘the way things are done’ and aren’t limited by the decades of rigid corporate structures that others were subjected to. This means that it can be easier for them to develop out-of-the-box ideas and disrupt the status quo, pivoting the company in new directions more flexibly and agilely in response to younger consumers’ rapidly changing wants and needs.

That doesn’t mean that companies should rely primarily on Gen Z to expand their market share and do away with legacy executive structures in the process. Experience is invaluable, and partnering young leaders with fresh perspectives with more established and knowledgeable executives could yield the best outcomes, if both parties are open to cooperating, learning, and adapting to the other’s ways.

The Moti Group is a prime real-world example of this approach working in practice. When I took the reins as Executive Director at age 24, I did so alongside our newly appointed CEO, former National Treasury Director General Dondo Mogajane, who began his professional career in the 1990s.

He brought with him a wealth of business experience and with his mentorship, I’ve been able to implement new structures that better align with the contemporary needs of our customers, especially as many of the businesses we deal with also begin appointing younger people in leadership positions.

As a Gen Z Executive Director and Gen X CEO, we’ve been able to grow the company’s portfolio considerably over the past two years through using a combination of new and old tactics to onboard new clients, grow the interest of existing partners, and enter new markets targeting younger customers.

2. Bridging the digital divide

Practically every modern company has at least one social media page or a basic website, but too many are still struggling to fully make a meaningful digital transition, or promote their offerings in an effective and captivating way as to capture Gen Z customer’s attention.

Born into the modern digital age, Gen Z places a far greater emphasis on online activity, and understands that the key to reaching this influential market segment is by speaking directly to them on the apps and websites they frequent every day. Likewise, they understand the competitive advantages of digitised processes, automation, and new technologies.

They are also more technically skilled and knowledgeable, allowing them to drive digital transitions from the executive level, and ensure that digital strategies are implemented and integrated companywide.

3. Marrying traditional and modern work conditions

The traditional work structure is slowly falling by the wayside. Millennial and Gen Z workers alike now emphasise a healthier work-life balance. In fact, they’re demanding it, with many rejecting conventional nine-to-five office work, and overwhelmingly supporting companies that provide fluid or hybrid working options.

Unfortunately, while older generations may understand that this is the case, most legacy executives are slow to act and many refuse to accommodate this flexibility. Hiring a Gen Z executive who understands why work-life balance is so important to their staff, and how a more fluid corporate setup could benefit the company’s bottom line, will help guide the rest of management through this change, and find solutions that satisfy both the old and the new guard.

In the end, modern companies need a balanced mix of executives from each generation to ensure that the experience and knowledge of conventional business structures don’t go lost, while ensuring that innovative, new-age thinkers are free to shape the company to meet modern consumer needs. Having a Gen Z executive work alongside their millennial and Gen X counterparts is good business, and will help companies thrive as markets continue to change.