What our chairman learned at the 2019 BBN academy

BBN Academy has become the highlight of the year for many of our partners. It provides an excellent platform for learning and collaboration. Every year, we incorporate a series of activities designed to bring people together, strengthen our culture of collaboration, and support our people’s skill development on a worldwide stage.

Every academy I tell the delegates I get more out of the experience than they do. And this year is no exception.

Progressively there seems to be an obsession with minutely categorising and characterising­­­ people by race, gender, religion and age. We are all aware of stereotyping, and as long as it is good-natured can be a powerful way of breaking down barriers. Over the last few years ‘age’, and the different generations has become a recurring topic. Too often, when we refer to Generation Y (Millennials) or Generation Z, they are daubed with uncomplimentary traits. Ricky Gervais recently tweeted that the ‘snowflakes’ provided an almost unlimited source of material, earning him a fortune. Comedians targeting particular groups – mother in laws or mean Scotsmen – is one thing, but when it extends into the workplace is another matter altogether. The level of analysis is, in my view, totally disproportionate, and the depiction superficial. Yes, the Y and Z gens have clear expectations; personal development and work-life balance being high amongst them, and we should rejoice in that.

The age debate wouldn’t be complete without the ‘baby boomers’ (1945 – 1965), those who benefited, some would say exploited a time of increasing affluence and higher levels of income than their parents, and a surge in consumerism. And, of course, we can’t forget Generation X the ‘MTV generation’ and their poor taste in music.

Each new generation is different from the previous ­and thank goodness that is the case.

So, here is what I learned at this academy – age diversity is every bit as critical to our success as is our diversity of cultures, nationality and religions and we need to actively embrace and celebrate it.

The positive interaction of all generations represented at the academy was palpable and delivered extraordinary results. Evident throughout was that our Generations Y and Z are highly focused, conscientious, collaborative, articulate and justifiably confident. Did I mention their impressive work ethic? As BBNext Gen – no apology for this designation, as it acknowledges going forward, it is their ambition that will drive the longer-term agenda.

Then we have our Boomers and X Gens’ with their generosity of spirit, enthusiastic mentoring and coaching and willingness to impart their experience and knowledge. All these combined qualities have brought BBN to its prominence today, and they ensure that our legacy is respected and that we never become complacent.

This channelling of diversity is compelling. As a result, the future of our agency partners and the BBN proposition is in safe hands.

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