Age is just a number

by 21 Dec 2011

AIM’s 2011 Young Manager of the Year, Martin Keetels (pictured left with David Wakeley, CEO, AIM), is one to watch. He is also one to listen to when it comes to how HR can best foster young talent and the benefits of elevating Gen Y high achievers into key leadership positions.  

Introducing Martin Keetels

Keetels rose quickly through the ranks at Konica Minolta, beginning in 2008 as the senior bid manager before earning two promotions and taking on the role of national bid manager.

His talent is unquestionable, but as Keetels found, the support and guidance of senior staff is essential for young candidates looking to take on leadership roles.

“I think I’ve been very lucky to be so well supported at Konica Minolta by both my immediate manager and the leadership team,” Keetels says.  

“As a young manager the challenge is to be able to identify those managers within the organisation who have the skills you desire. Watch them, learn from them and identify how they deal with issues as they arise.”

Keetels adds: “You can learn from your elders in two ways: one is learning from what they do well and one is learning from what they do not do so well. Young managers need to be aware of both.”

A HR manager himself, Keetels is an especially interesting figure for HR professionals looking to mine the riches of the Gen Y workforce.

“At Konica Minolta we have a HR team that is very supportive. I spent my early years with the HR manager and I was able to learn a lot from him,” Keetels says.

“Now I am responsible for managing the team from a HR perspective as well as a managerial perspective. Something that has helped is the MBA that I’m currently studying at the Macquarie School of Management. Certainly I’ve learnt a lot through that course and have been able to apply it to the workplace, how I relate and interact and manage the teams here.

“HR has an incredibly important place in managing young talent and the more effective managers can be from a HR perspective the more effect they will be as a manager overall,” Keetels says.

Challenges for young managers

The young Konica Minolta manager knows all too well the pitfalls of being a Gen Y leader, but the benefits both to himself and his organisation far outstrip the perceived perils. 

“Young managers do face challenges in gaining recognition and I think sometimes organisations tend to write them off as youthfully exuberant or naive. In order to overcome these misconceptions young managers need to prove themselves and confront every situation with confidence and determination.”

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