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The corner office with panoramic views, the million dollar salary, the power to hire and fire.....these are no longer the aspirations that fuel the next generation of business professionals, it seems.

The so-called “millennials” are looking for work-life balance, fascinating professional projects on which to work and — most important of all — work that has a positive impact on society.

These are the results of a survey conducted by the St Gallen Symposium and market research company GfK Verein of the Leaders of Tomorrow, a group of more than 1,000 top university students and graduates under the age of 35.

Some 46 per cent of respondents said that doing work that had a positive impact on society would be one of the top three criteria for measuring success in their professional careers. Having a high level of salary was rated by just 14 per cent and having power over people found favour with just three per cent. Only a quarter of respondents have a career goal of being a “top level executive with extensive decision-making authority leading a large team.”

What is more, becoming an entrepreneur is seen as the “gold standard” for millennials, according to the authors of the report, though young people are quite happy to work in a traditional company for a few years while they learn the business skills needed to start out on their own, it seems.

But perhaps the most telling feedback comes when the millennials were asked to describe what they saw as the biggest mistakes made by today’s business leaders. At the top of the list was being small-minded, second that they are egotistical, conceited and arrogant, and third that they overestimate the value of seniority and undervalue the younger generation.

Perhaps the most surprising thing, then, is that when this group of millennials were asked what sector they would like to work in, the most popular choice was consulting.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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