Business Case Studies, Executive Interviews, Tamara J Erickson on Managing Troubled Times

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Executive Interviews: Interview with Tamara J Erickson on Managing Troubled Times
March 2009 - By Dr. Nagendra V Chowdary

Tamara J Erickson
Tamara J Erickson, President nGenera Innovation Network

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  • In Plugged In: the Generation Y Guide to Thriving at Work, you have offered your priceless advice to Gen Ys, telling them everything that they should do to make their workplaces an integral part of their life. Yet, the very same Gen Ys seem to be clueless during these hard times. What’s your advice to them to keep the same optimism?
    First, the good news: despite a slowdown in immediate career opportunities, the current financial crisis is unlikely to diminish the long-term fortunes of Generation Y. This generation’s timing for asset accumulation couldn’t be better –

    most Ys had not yet taken advantage of their company’s 401k or other longterm savings options and, as a result, had little to lose over the pastmonths. They now have an opportunity to get in at the bottom, with long years ahead to ride the market up.

    The housing market, when they decide to enter, should also tip in their favor. Unlike members of Generation X, whose timing for home ownership could hardly have been worse, Ys will likely enter a homebuying stage after the much smaller cohort of Xers will have left the market glutted with a surplus of houses, and much lower prices.

    Ys’ big challenge is to get a toe hold in a tight job market. Ironically, their seemingly clueless attitude toward work may be a sensible approach at this point in time. Fresh from a childhood of generally positive economic times, many Ys are not in a heavy money-oriented phase of life. They’re in a time of learning and exploration, content in the knowledge that they have long lives ahead to ‘make it big’ financially, if that’s what they choose to do in the end. Although some do have high levels of school debt, most Ys have not yet taken on other major financial commitments, such as home ownership. They need jobs with financial compensation adequate to cover their school or consumer loans, but Ys have more financial flexibility than older generations and, as a result, may be able to capture some of the more interesting work opportunities. Their challenge is to create a short-term strategy designed to make the best of a difficult economic time.

  • What should Ys do?

  1. Take advantage of your greater financial flexibility by seeking jobs that offer strong opportunities for learning and challenge, even if the compensation is lower than you would like for a future “career” position. Focus on resume-building experiences – even, if you can afford it, doing some work on a volunteer basis if it provides you with opportunities for leadership, creativity or learning.
  2. Use your social networking skills to look for cyclic, contractor-type engagements via online sources.
  3. Work with the career offices at your college to identify internship or coop opportunities.
  4. If feasible, use the time while the market is down to do some of the things you want to do ‘someday’ now – travel or further your education.
  5. If you can swing it, begin to invest in stocks or property while prices in the market are low.
  6. And, if things go south, tap into the option popular with many Ys – minimize expenses by living temporarily with Mom and Dad.

1. Troubled Times Case Study
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