- Yaël, in a television interview you recently said that it is important to make the thoughts of young people heard. What do you mean?
Young peoples’ competencies are often dismissed, and far too little confidence is placed in them. It is extremely important for young people to be able to express their opinion in all areas of life. Often my generation is not taken seriously – I want to change that.
- Why is Generation Z’s voice, the voice of those born between 1995 and 2010, relevant for companies and organizations?
Generation Z includes nearly 1.4 million people in Switzerland and 3 billion worldwide. They grew up in an entirely different context from the previous generation and, accordingly, their demands have changed. It is extremely difficult for companies to understand these demands, not to mention, to meet them. When I think about product enhancement, for example, I am convinced that far better solutions would be found with a mixed-age team. As an example, three years ago Gucci established a so-called ‘Shadow Board’ represented by Generation Z individuals. Interaction with this board allowed the brand to successfully speak directly with its target audience rather than about it. This, in turn, allowed the brand to reposition itself among this age group. It is precisely in this way that we at ZEAM help companies.
- At the age of 20, you became self-employed and with your agency, you advise companies who want to better understand their young target group. Why did you not choose the classic academic path?
After the matura, I started working in journalism and realized very quickly that I am much more interested in practical application than in theory. In my job I was able to implement some projects and I knew that entrepreneurship is my passion. I asked myself why I should study at all if I can advance my career even faster without studying.
- Could you ever imagine pursuing a study programme?
At the beginning, yes. I was even enrolled in the Business Administration programme at the UZH for one semester. I wanted to learn everything that is important in becoming an entrepreneur. The programme was too theoretical for me and once ZEAM was founded, I immediately stopped. I am convinced that universities need to be rethought for a future in which more and more people will study.
- Back to your work. What have your experiences been with respect to companies’ understanding for Generation Z?
Those who work with us want to make a difference, so I sense a great openness to our ideas. Essentially, I think many companies are aware that Generation Z is also extremely relevant for them and will be even more so in the future. At the same time, there are many different opinions about my generation which are based on theory or assumptions.
- What is particularly important for you in your work and work with others?
It is important for me to communicate on an equal level and to be open and direct. I want to be able to rely on my colleagues and give them responsibility.
- Within ‘Career Relaunch’ we are often concerned with the recruitment process and try to design it as inclusively and fairly as possible. Where do you place value in the recruitment of your colleagues?
What is important for us is that the person is extremely excited about the work and has energy and drive. The education plays absolutely no roll. Until now, we have met all our co-workers via Zoom and many we have never met personally. We are currently in the process, however, of organizing a team event even though it will not be work-related.
- Generation Y is very critical towards Generation Z, criticizing them for having high expectations and for assuming that everything is always immediately at hand and available. Are you able to relate to this?
Yes, in a certain way. But I am convinced that this attitude will bring us further and can be advantageous for the future. For us it is important for deliveries, in online retail for example, to be carried out extremely quickly and for processes to be as efficient as possible. We were born into a digitialized world and do not know anything else. It is a completely different world from that of the generation before us.
Yaël Meier, 21, is co-founder of ZEAM. As a young voice in the business and media world, Yaël recognizes Generation Z’s potential. She talks about views, dreams, problems and living environments of young Swiss. As an actress and journalist Yaël sets and recognizes trends in popular and youth culture. Yaël was named in Forbes 30 under 30 list and awarded LinkedIn Top Voice 2020.
For many years the Career Relaunch Team of the University of St. Gallen Executive School has been actively engaged in supporting individuals with non-linear career paths as they return to work after a break or reposition themselves in the job market. Along with the certificate programme, Women Back to Business, the recently launched Career Relaunch platform (www.career-relaunch.ch) is a valuable resource on the path to professional repositioning.