Tapping the millennial talent pool

There’s a growing recognition of the importance of harnessing the insights and drive of young people in the workplace. Professional services firm Deloitte has found an innovative way to do this and it’s already paying off in a big way.

With a Significant percentage of the South African workforce set to be made up of millennials by the year 2020, forward-looking companies are taking steps today to tap into the talent, ambitions and potential of their younger staff members.

Deloitte is one of the leaders in this respect and its efforts are already paying significant dividends, following the establishment of a Millennial Board comprising 14 of the firm’s most dynamic and promising young staff members.

“We believe that a clear sense of purpose is what sets successful organisations apart and is increasingly important in shaping our organisation and its next generation of leaders. at Deloitte, we are convinced that we have translated this belief into action with the creation of the Millennial Board,” says Sihlalo Jordan, the driving force behind the initiative and deputy CEO for Deloitte Africa. “These are the future leaders of our firm. Just how seri­ously we take their insights is reflected in the importance of the task they’ve been given, evolving the firm’s innova­tion strategy,” he adds.

Following a series of meetings and strategy sessions, the Millennial Board presented their vision of the future to the main Deloitte Board, along with the steps they believe are necessary to help the firm achieve that vision. They are now working with Gregg Lister, leader of the Deloitte Innovation Unit, to implement the recommendations.


The 2017 Deloitte Millennial Board. Front row, from left to right: Brendon Breedt, Gakii Biriri, Jared Moodley, Aphiwe Dlamini, Deloitte Africa deputy CEO Sihlalo Jordan, Inviolata Chami, Itumeleng Kgafela and Jamila Jafun. Back row: Ariel Spilkin, Patrick Glynn, Michael Barnet, Tim Mitchell, Kate Still and Nadine Sigamoney.


Millennial Board member Michael Barnett, who co­-presented the Millennial Board’s vision to the firm’s leadership, describes the initiative as the most exciting thing he has been a part of in his career. “It’s given me the opportunity to engage with people like Sihlalo and other Deloitte Executive Committee members and to work with my colleagues across east, west and southern Africa to solve some of the biggest challenges faced by millennials in the workplace,” he says.

Deloitte has recognised the importance of millennials’ views for some time. Its annual Millennial Survey is widely regarded by clients – and many in the wider business community – as the definitive global barometer of the opinions and aspirations of millennials in the workplace.

Michael, citing the 2017 survey, says millennials feel a­ccountable for many issues in both the workplace and the wider world and regard the workplace as one of the best places to help address these issues. “Millennials want to work in highly flexible work practices and believe that this flexibility will have a more positive impact on financial performance than more restrictive organisations.”

He adds that there are a lot of political and macro­ economic uncertainties in the world; millennials want to be heard and are motivated to help deal with some of these uncertainties.

“Millennials want purpose over pay cheques. They want to work in organisations that don’t just exist to make profits, but rather to deliver work that better serves society. They want to leave a positive impact on the world around us.

“It would be amazing if, five years from now, I’m able to walk past one of my colleagues on the board and see living and breathing in our organisation the fruits of our work on this board,” says Michael.

Fellow board member Brendon Breedt agrees, “The Millennial Board concept is a unique innovation that breaks the borders of traditional corporate hierarchies and allows young dynamic members in the organisation to develop strategies alongside executive members, which would previously have been impossible.”

Another board member, Nadine Sigamoney, describes the initiative as game changing. “Deloitte has created a platform that allows the insights of next­generation leaders to shape the future of our organisation. The early success of this board, underpinned by the commitment of leadership, has enabled Deloitte to take it to the next level. We are now helping our clients to create their own platforms to factor millennial insights into decision­ making,” she says.

Jurie de Kock, an audit and assurance partner based at the Deloitte office in Stellenbosch, believes that the Millennial Board initiative will bring benefits beyond shap­ ing the future of the firm and driving key aspects of its strategy, and that it will play an important role in retaining and attracting talent.

“The Western Cape is home to some of the country’s brightest young minds. By tapping into this exceptional local talent through essential initiatives like the Millennial Board, we live up to the strategic intent of our business in a meaningful way. As we learn and reflect on the in­ sights from these talented young individuals, we develop a better understanding of the people challenges faced by our clients and our own firm. Being a professional services firm, it also goes a long way towards helping us to at­ tract the brightest and best from the vibrant pool of local graduate talent,” he says. V