GAC has tapped into the psyche of its younger generation of employees to understand the issues that will drive growth and sustainability in the future.

The GAC Millennials Ideas Forum was held in Dubai in late September. 21 Millennials selected from across the globe came together to identify their big issues and provide insights and ideas for making GAC a better company and the world a better place.

“We needed to take the time to listen to our younger brigade to make sure we included their ideas and concerns in our development of the next strategic plan,” says GAC Group President Bengt Ekstrand who attended the forum as an observer. “The forum has been a great success in that respect. We have received valuable inputs to guide our thinking.”

Ekstrand is now considering a report detailing the ideas and focus points that arose in the 1½ day facilitated event.

Sociologists define millennials as a demographic group born between 1981 and 1996. They are much studied and are considered to represent a significant break with past generations having grown up in the early internet age with its vast connectivity, global reach and massive access to information.

“It was clear very early in the forum that sustainability was a key driver for this cohort,” says facilitator Greg Newbold. “Going to work and getting paid is not sufficient for them. They need to see that their work is helping somehow to make the company a more humane and caring place and the world a cleaner and greener place. And to do this while still making money and having fun!”

What was also apparent in the forum was the positivity of the cohort. It may be a time of stressed environments, bombastic politics and edgy trade relationships but for the millennials attending the forum, the world was a theatre for action, not despair.

“This generation seems to feel completely capable of facing and solving the big issues confronting the world,” says Newbold. “Sure, they are worried and troubled by events and global problems, but they convey a clear impression of being ready to take on these challenges and fix them. They also maintain a fairly dark view of what their elders have been up to in the past. They see a lot of things that need fixing.”

GAC has attracted attention with its #GACdares advertising campaign which has broken away from traditional ideas of branding and marketing in the maritime sector. The ads were on display during the forum and were a close fit with the ideas and energies coming from the millennial group.