Thursday, March 22, 2012

Escape the City

In 2009 two Ernst & Young consultants, Rob Symington und Dom Jackman, quit their jobs and established an online job platform. There is nothing particularly exciting about this. The interesting thing is: it is called “Escape the City”, and is designed for young people who did everything right: school, university, a career with one of the big banks or consultancies of the City of London, but still felt that something is wrong.

“Escape the City” is a platform for highly qualified young people who want to escape the clichĂ©s of a successful career and an important job. It has been created by Symington and Jackman for people who are looking for meaningful jobs that make a real difference, not only to their lives, but to the world. As of March 2012, the platform has almost 60’000 registered members.

The success of this idea is so evident that the two young Englishmen expanded their business to New York where they obviously were welcomed with open arms. The NY subsidiary of “Escape the City” now ranked the most unpopular investment banks of Wallstreet. JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are “top”. But also some of the famous European Names such as UBS, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Barclays rank among the “top ten”.

So what about the rhetoric of many of these organizations when it comes to claiming to be employer of choice for the most talented people? Is it the truth or just a short sighted self-deception? Difficult to tell. But one thing is clear: More and more young and talented people are no longer satisfied by fast careers, big salaries and fancy job titles. They want to make a difference, and they want meaningful jobs.

Many people these days are frustrated with respect to what we could have learned from the crisis. It seems like companies are going back to business as usual: New financial “products” find their way to the market, executive compensation increases, and reaches pre-crisis levels. Sometimes I’m frustrated too, and I’m afraid that many practices will continue or change only marginally. But “Escape the City” is a sign of hope to me: It seems that there are a growing number of young people who have a different vision, a different idea and a different notion of a good and meaningful life.

Talking about leadership of the 21st century, I think these are the ones we need as future leaders. They are neither dreamers nor altruists. Quite the contrary: They are realists and they think for themselves. All they want is to live in a better world, where the quality of life is more important than the quantity of money.

Christoph Weber-Berg

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