Episode 9 - Ready or Not, Gen Z is Coming

Redefiners Podcast
Hosted By:
December 07, 2021 | 32 min
taha-bawa.jpg
taha-bawa.jpg
Taha Bawa
Co-Founder & CEO Goodwall

Episode 9 - Ready or Not, Gen Z is Coming

Our guest Taha Bawa admits he grew up with more opportunities than most. He travelled, volunteered, went to renowned schools, had parents who believed in him. But it was a visit to a refugee camp at age 10 that opened his eyes. While Taha was giving out sweets to kids his age, he realized luck was the only thing that separated him from them. The opportunity haves versus have nots. Today, as co-founder and CEO of Goodwall, Taha’s mission is to help create opportunity for Gen Z youth from around the world. The social network platform helps those aged 14-24 from over 150 countries maximize their educational and professional potential while making a positive societal impact.

In this episode, we’ll talk with the Forbes 30 Under 30 CEO about how companies can attract and retain Gen Z employees and, in turn, how those employees can earn a seat at the leadership table. We’ll discuss corporate authenticity and how diversity of thought that includes the Gen Z POV is good economics. And we’ll talk about the importance of re-learning, having an entrepreneurial mindset and being comfortable with failure—regardless of age. It’s a conversation that’s as much for C Suite leaders as Gen Z leaders-to-be.

 

Taha Bawa
Co-Founder & CEO Goodwall

Taha Bawa is the co-founder and CEO of social enterprise Goodwall, which he started to inspire and encourage the next generation to achieve more, maximize their potential, and impact society positively. Here he has grown a 60-person strong team across 8 countries, the client base to 4 continents, and the Goodwall member network to over 1.7 million young people in 150+ countries.

Taha has also co-founded and created several other startups and been featured on several coveted lists, including Forbes’ 30 Under 30: Social Entrepreneurs (2018) and Entrepreneur’s 15 Entrepreneurs Under 30 to Watch Out For (2020). He has given notable keynote speeches on leveling the playing field at TEDx, Google, MIT, the United Nations and the Commission of International Schools. Taha also regularly features on panels and has given a series of thought leadership features in prominent titles such as NPR’s entrepreneurial podcast "How I Built This" with Guy Raz, Techcrunch and the Adecco Group Podcast by Monocle.

Aside from his entrepreneurial pursuits, Taha also dedicates his time to volunteering as a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, an Innosuisse startup lecturer and as part of the Young Presidents Organization, to inspire people from various socio-economic backgrounds on their path to success. He was born in Switzerland but grew up in 4 countries by the age of 11. He has worked out of the US, Europe, Asia and most recently Africa. He was educated in Economics at the University of Lausanne and obtained a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Oxford.

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Growing up in privilege and opportunity, Taha Bawa visited a refugee camp at the age of 10 that opened his eyes to the inequality that exists simply based on where one is born. That realization eventually led him and his brother to found Goodwall, a social networking platform that connects youth to scholarships, internships, job opportunities, and each other. In this episode, we’ll talk with the Forbes 30under30 CEO about how companies can attract and retain Gen Z employees and, in turn, how those employees can earn a seat at the leadership table. It’s a conversation that’s as much for C Suite leaders as Gen Z leaders-to-be.

Here’s a taste of what you’ll hear from Taha in this episode, in his words (edited for length and clarity):

“Organizations need diversity of thought. They need to include youth from different backgrounds in order to maximize their own potentials.”

Taha’s Redefiner Moment: Through the eyes of a 10-year-old
I went to university with incredibly intelligent, mindful people, but realized that we had very different objectives in life. My reason or purpose comes from the experiences I had growing up. We grew up in various countries around the world, but we visited refugee camps over our summers. As a 10-year-old giving sweets to kids who were super grateful for them, you say why? I don't think anyone could say that I had done more than another 10-year-old. It was just luck.

It starts as early as that 10-year-old experience that sticks with me today. I think about it a lot, but that continues because we travel and we see the discrepancy, the unlevel playing field that exists. And that's a constant reminder.

On connecting youth in Africa to opportunities
When we talk about Africa, there are regions, countries, sub-regions within countries. But as a whole, if I were to simplify, I'd say there's an incredibly motivated, young, hungry demographic that wants to improve their lives. So much in the fight against climate change must be done in Africa, given the amount of green land and biodiversity that still exists that just, frankly, does not exist in Europe or in the US anymore.

In terms of what we can do to help, I think it's about connecting them to remote jobs, virtual pathway programs, and side hustles. Side hustles could be video content creation, script writing, social media. If we try to have an impact on as much of that youth population as possible, there's so much to be done in side hustling, alternative livelihoods, and accessing virtual opportunities.

On the overestimation of entrepreneurship
I think the value of entrepreneurship, the idea of starting a company, is often overestimated. Joining a company is even more important. We have multi-generational companies that are quite small. They need entrepreneurial thinking to be able to reinvent themselves. But if we take the largest Fortune 500 companies, they need that entrepreneurial thinking as well to reinvent themselves and adapt to the fact that their industry may completely collapse in the next five, 10 years, or that the way they do business has to change. So what we've seen take off particularly are these virtual pathway programs that can be on entrepreneurial thinking.

On the need for diverse perspectives to solve existential problems
We need diversity of thought when we talk about a problem like climate change. If there's one thing we've learned from the COVID crisis it is that we are interdependent; we need global solutions. It cannot be represented from just a small subsection of society that have gone to the same universities and lived in the same places; we need that representation.

One of the things we're doing is helping train youth from around the world to be able to speak at a policy level with CEOs. Once they are able to have that conversation, well, they must be listened to. If not we have this disconnect and increased polarization between generations, rather than collaborating and leveraging each other's strengths.


If you like this episode, you may also enjoy our conversation with Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and co-founder of Ellevest.

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