50 Voices of the Future: Christine DiDonato on ‘energizing’ millennial workers


In honor of UC San Diego Extension's first 50 years, 50 Voices of the Future asks thought leaders about the trends, breakthroughs and social advances they foresee over the next 50 years.

Today, a major generational shift is happening in the workplace, causing a communications gap between employers and young professionals. These employees, also known as millennials, want to find that perfect job, but are not prepared for the ‘old school’ workplace. They may expect higher salaries than some of their predecessors, for example, and want to take off for a 2 p.m. yoga class, but they also face many challenges, including ballooning student loan debts and high expectations from employers.

Through her organizational development firm Career Revolution, Inc., Christine DiDonato, a highly sought after employee development expert, aims to help companies best integrate millennials into the workplace. For DiDonato, it’s all about bridging the mindset gap between companies and young professionals so everyone can enjoy success.

(1) Why is the work you do important?

Today’s workplace is in the midst of major transformation. With today’s organizations reporting continued challenges in finding and retaining top talent, the ‘war for talent’ doesn’t seem to be slowing down. At the heart of this challenge is developing and engaging a new generation of employees who have become a critical part of a company’s ability to innovate and stay competitive. At the same time, younger employees, often called millennials, have become quite vocal about not being prepared to meet the cultural and competency expectations of the organizations they work for. Career Revolution was created to address this challenge by not only helping managers become better coaches and mentors but also directly addressing the needs of young professionals.

(2) What are the exciting developments in your field, and why?

Many training and consulting companies have jumped on the ‘millennial’ development bandwagon, but unfortunately most have missed the mark in really helping solve the growing generational gap in organizations. This has been the case because they are using the same models and methods they’ve used for prior generations. However, as companies have grown savvier and perhaps desperate to make positive change, many have made significant progress in re-inventing HR and talent practices (Christine's presentation starts at 2:08:00). A great example is doing away with the traditional annual performance management program or even tenure-based vacation policies. This generation is telling us they’d rather have an extra week of vacation than a raise.

(3) What’s the next big thing?

I see a growing trend in coaching versus formal training. Just as professional athletes and musicians have coaches, I see future workplace talent having their own ‘talent agent.’ This would be a person either assigned to you by your company or independent resources outside of the company who provides mentorship, coaching and job search and placement for you based on your unique needs at any critical juncture in your career. I see a big comeback for good old-fashioned human interaction. As the world gets smaller and technology drives decisions, the need for and power of personal networks is increasing.

(4) How big of an impact will your field play in shaping the future of the San Diego region and beyond?

The field of leadership and career development is one that when done well can have significant impacts in organizations and for individuals. San Diego’s growing companies can accelerate their growth by engaging with experts to proactively align teams to company goals, build leadership bench strength, attract the best and brightest talent, and retain people needed to take their company to the next level.

On a national and global level, there is a growing need for organizations and their employees to learn to navigate the ever-changing workplace to be able to focus on what’s most important personally and professionally. Without learning these skills, we will continue to see premature employee turnover, health and wellness issues, and companies struggling to survive.

(5) Hop into your time machine…what does the future look like for this field in 50 years?  How can individuals/companies prepare?

With technology continuing to change at an unprecedented pace, the hottest jobs 50 years from now don’t even exist today. I predict that we will see a major overhaul of our educational system as we continue to understand how technology and global trends are impacting the way we learn. I believe the four-year college degree will no longer be the ‘price of admission’ for the best jobs. The ability to influence without authority, collaborate with diverse teams, and remain flexible and agile in the face of change and adversity will become even more important in 50 years.


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