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ACE Alumni TUesday - Gen Z Expert Talk

On Tuesday, October 3, 2023, our ACE Alumni TUesday has opened the academic year 2023/24 with an exciting discussion focusing on the young generation Z.

Gen Z Talk 031023

f.l.t.r: Gerhard Graf, Annelie Neff, Caroline Paparella, Kitti Feher, Peter Pöltl

The exciting panel discussion "Business as usual? Where is Generation Z taking us in the world of work?" affects us all in equal measure: as employees, managers, long-time employees or newcomers to the profession. The interaction in everyday working life is sometimes characterized by different ideas, expectations and also ways of acting on the job. But does the new Generation Z (born between 1997-2012) really bring a massive change to our everyday working life? The hypothesis remains difficult to completely eradicate: "Do young people really want "just" fun and little responsibility?" In any case, their influences are manifold: how does the generation change companies in the area of employer branding, if necessary, how do young managers deal with their ideas and wishes, and has the "discussion" about Gen Z already penetrated the top management level?

We discussed with experts from various professional backgrounds in a panel moderated by Caroline Paparella:

  • Kitti Feher (ÖBB-Business Competence Center GmbH, specialist for personnel recruitment and employer branding)
  • Gerhard Graf (Transformation Management AG, Chairman of the Board & lecturer TU Wien ACE of Strategic Competence & Talent Management)
  • Annelie Neff (Transformation Management AG, working student)
  • Peter Pöltl (ASTOTEC Automotive, Manager Product Engineering Electric Safety)


The unanimous opinion of the audience at the ACE Alumni TUesday: There are many stereotypes and prejudices that keep the discussion about Generation Z (artificially?) alive. However, it is important that we clear up outdated images, create motivation for young employees and align company strategies with long-term employee retention, because good talents are important for a company's own success.
For panelist Annelie Neff, herself a Generation Z employee, employers should create opportunities for employees to realize their full potential. Learning on the job is enormously important to her, as is advancement - the job should encourage and challenge, but the fun should not be lost.

She cites the technological affinity of the "digital natives" as a particularly positive factor, which brings many advantages as an asset in the everyday working lives of this generation: young people have learned from an early age how to deal with a flood of information in the best possible way, so multitasking on the job is not unknown. In addition, the strong digital networking is a plus in terms of rapid communication with each other. The positive mindset, which is very important to the generation when solving tasks, brings a further advantage for the good climate in the team, which is also particularly close to their hearts.

Gerhard Graf, Chairman of the Board of Transformation Management AG, sees generational thinking as a rather artificial construct. Certain currents have been repeated over and over again in recent decades, regardless of the generation in question: a secure job, the meaning in work and the importance of a work/life balance. However, he sees a necessary "post-maturing" at the first job entry for young employees due to the schooling of the university concept since the Bologna process in higher education. The promotion of young talents is essential for the long-term retention of employees.

Kitti Feher reports from the perspective of the specialist in the area of Empolyer Branding & Recruitment, among other things, on an expansion of attractive benefits that are offered to potential new employees as an employer and which was initiated by Gen Z. The company not only strives to offer comfortable extras such as the climate ticket for employees, but also to offer internal and external training opportunities that promote internal development. As a company, they are very keen not only to offer convenient extras such as the climate ticket for employees, but also to enable internal and external training opportunities that are intended to promote further development within the company. However, it must be clearly stated here that this further training is not only specifically for Generation Z, but is offered to all age groups of employees.

Peter Pöltl is himself a young manager and experiences different generations in his own team - between 25 and 56 years. In his experience, social and personal imprints are often given differently, which is why the diverse team structure was not only discussed in individual conversations with all employees, but also individually defined in detail their own further development. For him, it is important that both young employees and long-standing colleagues pull together. Team events also strengthen cohesion among the employees. He also sees it as very important that young employees hand over responsibility and thus a personal growth in the task is possible.

The unanimous tenor of all experts is that a desire for personal development is the key to job satisfaction - regardless of the age of the employees. Nevertheless, leadership tasks are becoming more widespread among the young Generation Z. In particular, the topics of sustainability and social responsibility are drivers of identification for Gen Z, for whom corporate values are very important. Even if Gen Z works somewhat differently, long-term success is very important to them, not only from a personal perspective, but also for their own employer.

An exciting evening with expert insights & subsequent exchange opportunities for all participants! We are looking forward to further ACE Alumni TUesdays with numerous guests!

​​​​​​​Good to know: with our compact program Strategic Competence & Talent Management, in cooperation with Transformation Management AG, opens an external URL in a new window, participants learn the most important tools and methods for building strategic competencies, which contribute significantly to securing the future of the company in the long term!

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