”Ours is a generation bloated with information and starved for wisdom” – Arianna Huffington
As we fully embrace the next evolution in computing—the cloud—partners looking to scale their businesses are having a hard time finding talent with both the vocational and leadership skills necessary for success. Need for current technical skills has led to a massive hiring of millennials, a group that is generally viewed as competitive, ambitious, impatient, and entitled: that is, short on those critical "soft" skills.
The speed at which businesses need to grow leaves little time to coach these young employees who instead are learning by trial and error. Millennials are intelligent and talented, but a lack of self-awareness holds many back, and a lot of promising young employees get frustrated and quit when they don’t realize their goals quickly enough. That was certainly the case for me when I joined the industry. Hungry for success, I was gunning to be an executive with the thought that if I did a great job, I would get there, and quickly.

One day a mentor (and friend) sat me down and advised me to slow down, take my time to build quality relationships, and practice how to be an executive by learning the basics. During the next couple of years we covered the gamut, from time management to executive presence to personal branding: everything successful executives do well. These foundational skills, coupled with vocational skills, set me up for success and meaningful relationships with many senior executives which ultimately led to job satisfaction. So, thank you, mentor and friend, you know who you are, and I truly appreciate your help.

Fortunate millennials (and others) will have great mentors at every step; at my current company, Avalara, every senior exec has an open-door policy, and we dedicate time and resources to coaching those who will someday take the helm. Avalara recognizes that companies that invest in their emerging leaders benefit from their employees’ professional success and create a workplace that attracts top talent. Emerging leaders who take the time to build themselves enjoy the journey, not just the end result.
To help these emerging leaders, last year at the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), Microsoft introduced 100-level sessions that focused on storytelling, personal branding, and leading in this new age. Responding to the feedback, they have added additional sessions this year. If you have high-potential employees you think might benefit, I highly encourage you to send them to these sessions by industry experts:
Successful businesses require investment, so invest in the future of your company by dedicating resources to your most important investment of all – your employees. I look forward to seeing you – and your company’s future leaders – in Washington, D.C. in July!