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October 12, 2017

Research into the views and values of the UK’s future leaders has revealed how the C-Suite is set to change under Millennial leadership


Millennial leaders are set to shake up traditional company management as they focus on building businesses based on both profit and purpose, new research from American Express has revealed.

Redefining the C-Suite: Business the Millennial Way, surveyed over 2,300 global leaders and Millennial managers - the future leaders of business - to better understand how businesses will change as Millennials rise to senior management roles. The findings also provide an insight into how business leaders today can set their companies up for success in the future.

The research found that while over half (56%) of Millennials surveyed in the UK said that a C-Suite role is attractive to them, and that they are more likely than their Gen X counterparts to want a job that gives them status, Millennials also indicated that they want to shake up traditional business leadership.

75% of Millennials think that successful businesses of the future will see management look beyond the usual models of doing business and be more open to collaborating with new partners. Millennial professionals also think that teamwork is a more important quality in leaders than Gen X-ers, suggesting that the C-Suite of the future will promote a much flatter structure in the organisations they lead. Millennials also ranked passion as an important quality in leaders (30%) much more highly than their Gen X counterparts (19%).

As part of their C-Suite shake up, Millennial leaders will put employee wellbeing at the top of their agenda. When asked what the biggest challenges are to businesses of the future, Millennials’ top answer was paying employees fairly (49%), followed by retention of talent (40%). 74% of Millennials also say that successful businesses of the future will need to support employees outside of work, compared to just 67% of Gen X-ers.

The research also found that while the majority (76%) of future Millennial leaders think that businesses of the future will need to have a genuine purpose that resonates with people, they also recognise the importance of driving a profit – something often perceived as being at odds with doing purposeful business.

According to the research, 63% of Millennials say that it is important for them to be known for making a valuable difference in the world, and Millennials are more likely to invest in CSR when running their own businesses (58%) compared to their Gen X counterparts (50%).

At the same time, UK Millennials were found to have a keen eye on maximising shareholder profit, with 53% of Millennials saying that shareholder profit will be important for the success of businesses in the future compared to 46% of Gen X-ers. To achieve success in the future, 71% of Millennials also think that businesses will need to manage costs tightly, and 77% say that financial transparency will be important.


Commenting on the findings, Jose Carvalho, Senior VP and General Manager at American Express Global Commercial Payments Europe said, ‘Millennials are demanding more from the businesses they work for – and will come to lead. This is setting the stage for an evolution of the C-Suite, where they will seek to put both profit and purpose at the heart of their businesses whilst also structuring them in a way to ensure tight cost management and efficient processes.

Jose continued, ‘This offers valuable insight for today’s business leaders as they seek to future proof their organisations and prepare for Millennial leadership. At American Express, we are dedicated to providing payment products and services that are designed to help companies effectively evolve and navigate change to ensure they continue to get business done now and in the future.’


Notes to editors

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About the research

This research was conducted by Kantar Futures on behalf of American Express in June 2017 across France, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. and surveyed 1,363 Millennials who self-identified as managers and 1,062 self-identified business managers from Generation X. A literature review and trends analysis was also conducted.


For the purpose of this research Millennials were defined as those born between 1980 and 1996. Gen X defined as those born between 1965 and 1979.



About American Express Global Commercial Payments

Through its Global Commercial Payments group, American Express provides the Corporate Card and other expense management services to mid-sized companies and large corporations worldwide. It is a leading issuer of commercial cards, serving more than 70% of the Fortune 500, as well as tens of thousands of mid-sized companies. American Express issues local-currency commercial cards in more than 40 countries, and international currency cards in an additional 100+ countries. For more information, visit www.americanexpress.co.uk/corporate.



About American Express

American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, instagram.com/americanexpress, linkedin.com/company/american-express, twitter.com/americanexpress, and youtube.com/americanexpress.

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