A NEW GENERATION IS COMING
DENIS DOLLAKU Senior Vice President, Branch Head, Italy
Denis Dollaku is a senior vice president and head of State Street Bank International GmbH - Italia. Denis was appointed to this role in July 2019, after previously holding the position of General Manager for almost 8 years, where he was responsible for Operations, Information Technology and Product Development. Effective 1 October 2020 Denis has been appointed to the Executive Management Board of State Street Bank International GmbH. Mr. Dollaku joined State Street in March 2000. Prior to moving to Italy Denis held the role of Head of Internal Audit of State Street Bank GmbH. He holds an MBA degree from Suffolk University in Boston.
SCOTT NEWMAN Executive Vice President, Country Head, Poland
Scott Newman is executive vice president and country head of State Street Bank International GmbH Poland. In this role, Scott is responsible for leading the local management team, defining and executing the strategy, business development and legal entity governance. Prior to transferring to Poland, Scott was based in Munich where he led the research and setup of the new office in Krakow as well as holding relationship and project management roles. Scott joined State Street in 2003 through the acquisition of Deutsche Bank’s global custody business. He holds a bachelor of arts in business administration and is fluent in German and conversational in Polish.
VD: Could you describe young people under 25 in three words?
Denis started with something he described as being quite obvious: they are socially connected. ‘Socially connected because they are, much more than my generation, connected to the far ends of the earth and this is one of the positive impacts of social media, it has made the world smaller.’
He continued, ‘On the other hand, while social media has made it easier to establish relationship to the furthest corner of the earth it has made relationships more superficial as well. Humans since the beginning have defined social contact in a physical sense, however social media, exacerbated by Covid when people couldn’t even leave their houses, has had a big impact in changing that definition, while driving as well a level of insecurity in the younger generations.’
Denis adds ‘creative’ as a third key at tribute of young people, which fascinates him the most. ‘I remember when I was young my father would throw a ball to us and we would kick it around for hours on end. Nowadays, young people have incredibly varied interests and they’re very good at expressing themselves through new technology and social media.’
Scott thinks that young people are ambitious, and at the same time have an expectation of rapid career development. At the same time, there is more of an appreciation of work-life balance. ‘Young people are ambitious, which is an amazing trait that will help them succeed in their careers. . ‘When I started out, it was all about working hard for as long as it took. Now it is more about working hard for eight hours and then enjoying an evening of sports, spending time with family or seeing friends. This is a good thing in general as long as the need to work hard and go above and beyond in order to progress is not forgotten.
Young people’s ambition can also contribute to their feelings of restlessness, according to Scott: ‘Technological advancement has fundamentally changed our economic model, for example, next day delivery with a simple click is now the norm. Young people nowadays grow up experiencing instant results, and this has an impact on their views of life in general - it is a generational as well as an economy-driven phenomenon. This restlessness is apparent among young people both in and outside of work.’
It is good to want to see results, but Scott added the importance of patience, ‘Learning new skills, demonstrating one’s value, gaining experience and building relationships with your colleagues and clients takes time. A career is a long path, and one cannot expect to get a promotion or see visible results two weeks in the job. Young people are valuable assets to businesses, but they need to be more patient when building their careers.’
VD: What is one thing you admire most about young people, aged between 11 and 25, and why? And what is the one piece of advice you’d give them?
Denis went back to creativity, stating that when he sees what they can do at such a young age he is hugely impressed. ‘However, I echo Scott’s point about restlessness. Young people need to understand that investing time in building and nurturing relationships with people, earning trust and gaining experience from colleagues and clients will play a critical role in their life and career, take a moment to remember that many important things in life, family relationships and careers, do not happen instantaneously.’
‘Young people’s comfort with new technology and flexibility are equally impressive,’ said Scott. ‘Since they haven’t been doing things in a particular way for long periods of time, it’s easier to implement changes in a younger workforce. I also admire the understanding young people have about environmental issues and their impacts.’
While he agrees with Denis’s recommendations to invest time in the important things in life, Scott also encourages young people to focus on the long-term. ‘To make a meaningful and sustainable impact what happens in the next hour or week should not be our focus. Rather, identify the goal, take up the challenge and the responsibilities that come with it, develop a strategy and map out what you need to do to get you there in five to ten years’ time.’
SD: Do you see ageism from younger workers towards older employees in terms of considering them irrelevant or demotivated?
Scott explained that for him the most successful firms will have the most diverse workforce, in terms of gender, age and nationality. ‘An important point here is the demographic challenge, meaning that there is going to be a significant skills shortage in the future. One way to bridge that gap is to have more diverse and less traditional workforces so it’s important to bring those two groups together so they can see and learn to appreciate each other’s value.’
Denis’ perspective was slightly different. ‘There have always been certain perceptions about both young and older people. We work for a trust bank, and our business is based on trust.
There needs to be a balance between creativity and change and stability and experience to maintain that trust.’
VD: What age are you both, and what ages are your children?
Denis: I’m 49 and my kids are 17 and 13.
VD: And Scott?
Scott: I’m 44 and my daughters are 8 and 4
VD: What will the world of work that we are leaving to our children be like? What skills will they need to feel fulfilled as individuals and as workers?
For Scott, in the banking context, the first legacy we are leaving future generations is a workplace that is ripe for change and improvement, driving the need for an engineering mindset. ‘Not just to ask what am I doing, but why? Is it the right way, is there a better way of doing it?’ The second is to recognize the importance of soft skills: interpersonal and communication skills, particularly in the post-pandemic context.
Denis agrees with Scott on the importance of interpersonal skills, driven by social media, and so those with sophisticated social skills will be in greater demand. He also agrees with Scott about having an analytical mindset, like those demonstrated in civil or biomedical engineering.
We will need social media savvy strategic thinkers to operate in a globalised world. Because the world nowadays is a mix of virtual and physical connections, he believes we will need people who can interact in both dimensions.
Due to these interdependencies, a strategic thinker will need to be able to sift through all the interconnected dynamics, provide advice, come up with solutions, and formulate plans that can weather challenges and difficult times.
VD: What is the biggest difference you can imagine there will be between the world of work today and in 20 years’ time?
Denis thinks that workers in 20 years’ time will ‘need to be able to interact with non-humans. Working with virtual reality, or the metaverse for someone like me it is very difficult to imagine, but the current 11 to 15 year olds are well able to imagine it. This is the biggest difference in my opinion.’
Scott concurs, ‘the technology and environment we work in will be different, as will our natural environment. Some types of jobs will no longer exist in the form they do today.’
Denis adds that ChatGPT is a good example. ‘It completes our thoughts, instead of us doing it for ourselves or through conversation with others, so that will change how we think.’
SD: Provocative question: What values does a generation hold that measures itself in terms of likes and shares?
Rather than values, what Denis sees as a characteristic of this generation is that they are more intuitively inclusive. ‘My daughters, for example, helped me rationalize the concept of gender equality, not as something abstract, but real what world do I want for my daughters?’ He stressed that he’s referring to equal opportunities, and not outcomes.
Scott looked at the other end of the scale, ‘With influencers things have become quite shallow in terms of how people measure success. However, younger people are now exposed to stress and bullying at much younger ages, which impacts mental health.’
VD: What do today’s young people look for in a workplace?
They are looking to be entertained. In the sense of being stimulated, they are curious and imaginative and want to be part of something important. This isn’t new. Change has always come from young people,’ said Denis.
Scott, on the other hand, brought up what young people look for when choosing a workplace. In addition to basics like benefits, the recruitment process and small things like coffee machines in the office, young people also want to know a company’s culture, policies and values.
For example, is the company technologically modern and up to date? What’s the company’s culture, are ESG policies properly incorporated in their business objectives and strategy? What is their approach to D&I and work-life balance? And its approach to hybrid working, will it be flexible?
Another area is a company’s training and development and its support throughout employees’ careers. Does the company offer assignments abroad, which accelerate career development?
SD: If you were in the early stages of your career, a 25-year-old postgraduate, and didn’t know where you might end up in the organization, what would make you choose State Street vs any other large bank? What is the thing that strikes you most positively about State Street?
Having worked at State Street for over 23 years, Denis said it’s down to the opportunity to try different things at State Street. ‘It’s interesting every day, it continuously evolves. State Street has always been a leader in the market; we are very niche, but we have always introduced innovation in our industry. So it’s interesting because you can change and do different things, almost like starting a new job. When people ask why I’ve been with State Street so long, it’s because I’ve done so many different things in different countries that it feels like I’ve had many different jobs. And also because of State Street’s commitment to actually making change.’
Scott concluded on a similar theme. ‘State Street has a track record of being innovative, it’s good and very rewarding to be part of that. We are global in scale, we have a sophisticated name in the industry, and are going through significant transformation and skills building for the future, so you will never get bored, because of State Street’s commitment to actually making change.’
Scott concluded on a similar theme. ‘State Street has a track record of being innovative, it’s good and very rewarding to be part of that. We are global in scale, we have a sophisticated name in the industry, and are going through significant transformation and skills building for the future, so you will never get bored.’