Motivating Millennials

UpCode Academy’s VP of Marketing Alan Seng says young creative teams pose management challenges. But they can be ‘a powerful, disruptive force.’

By Alan Seng

Building and leading young creative teams can be quite a challenge. While creative Baby Boomers and members of Generation X likely have honed their craft through offline mentorship and long years of practice, today’s young talents have a wide array of digital channels where they can express themselves and receive feedback for their work, almost instantly. This creates a need for instant gratification.


Alan Seng, vice president of marketing at UpCode Academy

They can be impatient for recognition and success, and their restlessness can be difficult to manage. However, when managed well, young creative teams can be a powerful, disruptive force. Early exposure to digital and social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest can be beneficial to young marketers as they are well-equipped to explore a wider spectrum of creative works.

In my own experience of building and leading creative teams, I tend to look for individuals who can work independently and have exhibited critical thinking in their creative process. When it comes to reviewing an individual’s career growth, I concentrate feedback sessions on giving them insights to the big-picture business objectives and the creative freedom to achieve these objectives on their own. This way, the organisation does not suffer from groupthink and we celebrate and welcome a diversity of ideas that come forth. In team meetings, I make extra efforts to recognise individual achievement and effort, and ensure that my team members feel appreciated for their work.

In my line of work, young professionals sometimes have the misconception that creativity comes from this mystical, imaginary fountain within us, and sometimes this fountain runs dry. This cannot be further from the truth. To build consistency in quality production, data plays a huge role. I’ve found that encouraging young people to use data analysis as the foundation for their projects not only leads to better marketing campaigns, but also motivates staff.

As we move further into the digital and information age, marketers and event professionals alike must take advantage of data to form insights, and build these insights into stories and experiences. Great storytelling does not come from years of trial and error, but a comprehensive data set. This approach to storytelling also encourages young creatives to spread their wings across new analytical platforms, and attain the instant gratification they so often desire.

Alan Seng is vice president of marketing at UpCode Academy, an educational institute based in Singapore.

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