Close Button

A Millennial and Gen X head to head

#HRLADYSHIP Travel Heather Gupta & Shreya Contractor • April 21, 2017
Facebook Icon Twitter Icon Linkedin Icon

Much has been written about the Millennial generation, the 19 to 35 year olds criticised for their lack of discipline, impatience and arrogance.

In contrast, Gen X, aged in their 40s and 50s pride themselves on their sense of responsibility, having grown up when “times were tougher” and in a pre-internet era. Are they really as “fuddy duddy” as they often sound?

We decided to see whether the two are as different as popular media would have us believe or whether they actually share similar beliefs and values.

Born on the same day, 20 odd years apart, 70’s born Chief Talent Officer Heather Gupta debates with 90’s born Social Media Associate Shreya Contractor:




I do get frustrated by the speed with which you guys hop from job to job. Honestly, it makes building and managing teams completely exhausting. I thought that I was restless, with my ‘2 years is enough in any job’ approach, but the younger generation seems to think that working for a company for more than a couple of months is beyond their powers of endurance. I don’t get this at all. Surely you need to learn some stuff before you move on to the next role?


We do believe we need to learn, that’s precisely why we switch jobs every so often. Our pace is much faster than yours—for real—look at the advancement in lifestyle and technology. Your generation made it possible for us to move at a swifter pace, so we’re only making optimum use of it. Precisely why once we’re done taking our lessons, we’re on to the next ones. Now, it’s up to you to be able to give them to us, else we go seeking elsewhere. The aim is to never stop (or stagnate). So expecting us to pace ourselves merely for the sake of it, despite having delivered results, would be kind of an imposition of your thoughts and beliefs, scarcely justified by the fact that ‘you had to do it too’ during your time, so we ought to follow the same.




I believe that you can learn from anyone, regardless of their age and “level”. I’ve met (and worked for) some terrible leaders with big job titles and bigger egos and I’ve also learned and still learn a ton from some really young people—although I do know that that isn’t always a popular approach particularly in India where hierarchy matters. I do believe though that life experience does count. It helps you develop essential leadership skills, particularly when it comes to being calm under pressure. The more you do something, the easier it gets to do it really well. Equally, the more exposure you have to different people, over time, the better you are at handling different situations.


Guess we’re on the same page there for we, too, believe that everyone has something to offer—our seniors, colleagues, friends and helpers. So expect us to ask ‘why not’ a lot. We call it our non-textbook way of doing things. We’re a gen that was brought up during times of constant change, where voicing opinions was given prime importance and colouring outside the lines was considered acceptable. Naturally rebelling and questioning the existing order of things became our way of life, because we’ve seen the effects of being tied down—touching on depression, suicide, LGBTQ rights. So we’re perpetually looking for people to inspire us, to bring about a change, which is the singular most important thing needed in the world today.




When I was 25, I viewed failure as completely unacceptable. I had decided that there was no way I was going to fail at anything, and so when I eventually did, it hit me really hard. With a couple of decades of work experience under my belt, I now understand that failure is actually essential. It makes us stronger and also makes us better at what we do. It is only through failure that you learn, but the point is not to see it as the end of the world, which is what I used to do.


Agreed. We kind of already know this though because ours is a generation of entrepreneurs in the making and newer designations being invented—a social media manager being one of them! Taking the road less travelled certainly has its share of downs (that usually gets taunted with ‘I told you so’) so we’ve learned to take lessons from them and well, just persevere, y’know? Nobody said life was going to be easy, just like nobody ever mentioned how difficult it would get to stand out from the rest—but we’re still here, aren’t we?




I’m part of a unique generation which straddles pre and post digital. I wrote all my university essays and even my dissertation by hand, and lived my teenage years without a mobile phone or social media. I’m conscious that I have to work harder now to really embrace technology but I do think that there’s something to be said though for having grown up in an analogue era. It sounds old-fashioned now, but as kids we really had no choice but to create our own entertainment and I think it’s a bit sad that that has been replaced by an obsession with screens.


The answer’s simple: we’ll never know what we never did. This argument could date all the way back to Baby Boomers who are even less savvy than your gen is, but you still find yourself trying to teach your old folks a thing or two, don’t you? Because change is what makes you grow. So I’d say instead of being sad, be happy that the newer generations are progressing. We may not have the best handwriting, but we do have a whole library of fonts that we created in compensation. So we’re good too!




It’s true that priorities change over the years. Marriage and kids have an obvious impact, mainly on your time. I spent my twenties and most of my thirties partying, working crazy hours and travelling the world. I wanted to experience everything life had to offer and I rarely sat still. I had my kids really late, at 40 and 42, and now my priorities revolve around my family. It’s an inevitable shift, though I’m still working hard, having fun, and most importantly, still learning and growing.


Could be true, but we’re not there yet, so we don’t know. Being so consumed in the things we wish to achieve, and in maintaining the existing people in our lives (friends and fam), we’ve little time to invest in newer ones. Or even think long term, for that matter. We’re good living off temporary comforts (that high-rise condo we so cannot afford!) our whole lives if it means more productivity. What remains of utmost priority to us is personal growth—better today than we were yesterday. So if nothing gets in the way of that, we’re good.




I’m really excited to see how the world will look when my kids grow up. The world has changed so much since I was a child, I can’t even imagine what it will look like in 15 or 20 years time. I’m also conscious that time is moving really fast, and I feel a certain pressure to get everything done while I’m relatively young and energetic. I know they say that age is just a number, but I can definitely feel the effects of having turned 40!


Well, I’d say, we’re a bit too young to talk about the future—we don’t even know where we’re going to be six months from now. So let’s hold that thought! Can’t even preach or speak with as much experience as you do for we’ve more lying ahead of us than behind to look back on and offer advice. We’re a lot that believes in ‘living in the now’ and ‘living like there’s no tomorrow’—with the littlest care or concern for ageing. Like you, we’ve got too much to do, too little time!




Although I’ve never actually uttered the term “FOMO” out loud, I completely get the feeling. This is definitely not an exclusively Millennial thing. I’ve been worried I’ll miss out on something or other since I can remember, although I’m generally more content these days. My FOMO now is less about the here and now and more about the FOBA (fear of being ancient!).


Haha, to each his own I guess? While it is true that we’re always going to miss out on something or other in life, so best to make the most of now yada yada—it sounds hella boring! Because it’s the chasing that’s exciting, not the knowing things. Besides, we’re a gen spoilt / gifted with the ability to multitask, so expect us to have multiple goals too.




It’s not surprising that Gen Z (also known as Post-Millennials, the iGeneration, Founders, Plurals, or the ‘Homeland Generation’ apparently) are described as moving even faster than the Millennials. They have no idea of dial up or ‘call and SMS only’ phones, and take decent connection speeds and wifi for granted. I’ve also read that they are more conservative than previous generations, avoiding alcohol, smoking, and having more traditional views on themes like same-sex marriage. I haven’t really come across any in the workplace yet, I guess the oldest of them are still graduating, so we’ll get to see in a couple of years time.


Did you end up Googling those terms? We had no clue! They’re an exciting lot though, for they’re basically alpha, beta…gamma! And unlike you guys, we don’t get sad to seem them missing out on the manual way of doing things (the previous goods), because hey, the future’s always exciting right? Out with the old, in with the new! So let’s just sit back and watch them grow and raise newer benchmarks. Cheers! (Meanwhile, you know what we should do? Listen to Kygo – Stole The Show)

Facebook Icon Twitter Icon Linkedin Icon



THE 120 MC