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A new generation of managers in Venezuela is breaking paradigms
By Egberto Fernandez, Venezuela Career Advisor  

Venezuela is a country of young people. With over 70 percent of its labor force under 35, the last 10 years have witnessed the emergence of a generation of young managers who are taking control of key positions in many companies. An analysis of the 100 best managers in the country during 2004 reveals an average age of 44 among men and 40 among women. These new managers are breaking paradigms and creating the new Venezuelan enterprise. Their placement in such key areas as systems, information technology, marketing and publicity is becoming an increasingly important factor in attracting new customers for their products. There is the belief that young managers are willing to risk more, are not easily intimidated and are more aggressive. When hiring new managers companies are very aware of this.

For some analysts, this phenomenon is associated to the boom of ".com" companies led by young entrepreneurs: bright individuals with lots of creativity and energy, very different from the traditional manager. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), Venezuela occupies the second place in enterprise undertakings per year, as compared in a sample of 38 countries including Europe and the United States. The average age of these entrepreneurs is 23 to 25 years.

What conditions are creating this need for young talents? The uncertainty and complexity of the Venezuelan economy, and of the region as a whole, requires management approaches that are totally different from the more traditional way of doing business. According to analysts, this less predictable environment requires such leadership strengths as:

  • The management of hyper-complexity.

  • Ability to work in networks.

  • Ability to constantly process information and detect similarities within different realities.

  • Ability to work and negotiate in teams, and ability to create positive emotional environments.

  • What is the profile of these young managers? Two groups can be described. The first one has the following characteristics:

  • They have been educated in important universities in Venezuela or abroad and have earned graduate degrees.

  • They have early managerial experience, including experience in multicultural settings.

  • They are bilingual Spanish/English. Some speak three languages.

  • They are dynamic and competitive; they know how to take risks and seek opportunities. They know how to generate alliances and are proficient net-workers.

  • There are also many successful entrepreneurs who do not have the high levels of education of the previous group, but who through unique business approaches and management savvy have been developing the area of franchises, one of the sectors with highest growth in the country and the region.

    During the last decade, the Venezuelan entrepreneur has learned to maneuver in the midst of the economic, political and social chaos prevailing throughout Latin America. The most outstanding feature of these new entrepreneurs is their adaptability. An example of this is the manner in which crises are transformed into opportunities: the high levels of unemployment have created the need for innovative solutions to help these young talents develop their potential. Such is the case of the Venezuelan Association of Young Entrepreneurs (www.ajevenezuela.net), whose objective is to support the entrepreneurial spirit; and help business people put their ideas into practice.

    This generation of managers has a common characteristic: they share a passion for work. They are young men and women who have placed their bet for the country while others decide to emigrate. The opportunity to advance their careers makes leaving the country unthinkable.

    In spite of the crisis the Venezuelan labor market still has room for young people willing to succeed.

    About Author

    Egberto Fernandez is a human development specialist who has more than 20 years of experience with organizations and individuals. He combines his private career-coaching practice with other areas of human development, including facilitating group workshops in management, leadership, team building, and change management. For more information, e-mail Egberto.

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