Sage Advice from Four Super-Successful Philadelphians
For our November cover story about the changing workplace in Philadelphia, we interviewed four incredibly successful locals about what employees want and how it can help foster success. Here’s what they said:
Al West, Chairman and CEO of SEI
“The modern workplace has to be a lot more egalitarian. If you’ve got offices for more senior people, it creates a hierarchy and gets in the way. Sharing knowledge is important. It used to be that people hoarded knowledge—I know something that no one else knows, and therefore that’ll get me ahead. But that doesn’t work anymore. Millennials use other people to learn. Most of what’s important gets done in a team. Millennials want to succeed. They want to be heard and appreciated. They want opportunity. They’re more interested in experience than in what they have; they’d rather spend money going and doing something than buying a car. Millennials want to have a sense of purpose, to be part of something larger than a job.”
Lucinda Duncalfe CEO of Monetate
“Attracting and retaining the best talent is a perennial challenge. Employees have more power and influence in the workplace today. They demand transparency and a defined sense of purpose. The newest generation of employees is less focused on career ladders and salary and more focused on flexibility and meaning. They are also less willing to stick with a company, so you need a very clear value proposition for them, including meaningful work and the ability to move ahead quickly. Philly tech people tend to be very forward-looking and interested in driving the creation of great new things. Yet relative to tech workers in other geographies, they are more stable and mature, with a desire to build real businesses.”
Stephen Tang, President and CEO of University City Science Center
“Our employees want to work on really cool projects on which they’ll give their heart and soul. They want a flexible, family-friendly environment. Because our mission has an aspect of civic-mindedness—we’re all trying to make Philadelphia a better place—our employees are going to have passions that transcend our mission. I’ve been observing the rise of the free-agent nation where you might prefer to be a contractor rather than an employee. I think that will cause us to work differently with people. But if you’re a believer, as I am, that the culture of the organization is what enables it to do its mission well, then people still have to fit into the work environment. There’s a certain pace, a certain way of treating each other with respect and mutually supporting each other—that still has to exist.”
Shawn Lytle, President of Delaware Investments
“Philly has a great balance of quality of life and a thriving urban environment that few other American cities have. We are able to attract more millennials and mid- to senior-level advisers because we have that very visible, urban workplace that is so close to transportation hubs. We are relocating people here from Florida, New York and Chicago. … Philly is very attractive to families and millennials. … Today, it’s important that senior management is visible and transparent with where the company stands. Fluidity of information is not just for outside of the office. It’s important that people feel part of the team and see the opportunities. It’s not like 30 years ago, when you stayed with a company for your whole life. We always encourage employees to take ownership of their careers.”
Published as “Corner-Office Wisdom” in the November 2015 issue of Philadelphia magazine.
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