Australian businesswoman Robyn Denholm is kind of a big deal.
Not only is she Chair of the Australian Tech Council and operating partner at BlackBird Ventures Australia, she also succeeded none other than Elon Musk as Chair of Tesla.
She’s got many, many leatherbound books. And her apartment smells of rich mahogany (that’s an anchorman reference in case you’re wondering).
But despite being one of Australia’s most successful tech executives Denholm is low-key fangirling Gen Zs, as she explained during our online Year13 Expo last month.
“I am hugely enthusiastic about this generation coming through and the changes they’ll make to the world of work with all that intrinsic knowledge that previous generations have not had as background,” Denholm said.
That intrinsic knowledge is Gen Z’s native understanding of technology having grown up with it their entire lives.
“(With this intrinsic knowledge of tech, Gen Zs) aren’t just going to influence the world of work, but the way they think and care about the environment is going to have huge implications on products and consumption patterns,” she said.
“Gen Zs actually hold the key to unlocking the technology illusions that will help us either avert issues (like the mitigating the impacts of climate change), but also take advantage of new opportunities as we go forward.”
So what advice does Denholm have for the 33% of current year 10, 11 and 12 students Gen Zs wanting to embark on a career in tech?
First of all, she recommends Gen Zs get curious about the diversity of jobs on offer in tech – which she points out is growing at twice the rate of any other industry in Australia.
“Yes we need programmers and engineers – but we also need product marketers, lawyers, accountants, and creatives to bring the visual and design aspects of consumer interfaces to life,” she said.
Secondly, don’t feel that you have to follow the crowd.
“We don’t have to follow conventions in Australia. We can do things differently. And I think it actually speaks to the multicultural nature of Australia and the way we embrace diversity and use that to really bring tech products to life.”
“Having a belief and conviction as to where you want to go is really really important,” she said.
“You’ve got to have that internal conviction and resilience to keep forging that path. I think it’s as true in careers and doing the things you’re passionate about, as it is in products and what you bring to market.”
Now that’s what we call solid advice.