Millennials: The Disruptive Generation

on August 17, 2016.

By Paola Ceriola


Change is most possible in an enabling environment wherein people are willing to make bold decisions. Most of the time, the people behind this change have nothing much to lose. These are the people who belong to a generation that has been constantly facing the consequences of global recession and climate change, yet they still have enough optimism to stir their future the other way. I belong to that generation: the millennials.

What sets us apart from other generations is our access to information and tools. We are the so-called digital natives, who are highly dependent on technology and connectivity. Within our lifetime, our sources of information have evolved exponentially, faster than any of the past generations. We live in a time where the smallest of voices can be heard by millions. We live in a time when anyone can turn an idea into reality.

We are presumed to be the future leaders in our respective fields, but in practice we are already making decisions that create the most impact in our workplaces and in our communities. Which areas do we need to improve in? What problems should we focus on? How do we operationalize the vision of the company? These are some of the questions that we answer for our employers. While our managers are busy looking at the big picture, we are making seemingly irrelevant choices that our bosses no longer have the time to ponder on. Yet, in truth, these choices are the ones that spur actual change.

On the other hand, there are those who choose to tread a different path. Some of us are overwhelmed and limited by the complexities of the inner workings of a large company so we decide to build our own. These are startups that would focus on innovative ideas while disrupting existing market models. Through these enterprises, we alter value chains that were once crafted to accommodate systems stuck in the old ways of existing institutions.

The new models we come up with maximize the benefits for all stakeholders in the company. We are the generation of Filipinos who put up Maria Health, engageSpark, and SALt Corp., among many others. Through these startups, communities in the developing world have access to quality healthcare, financial literacy, and clean energy.

We see a problem and we solve it. It is at this point when we bet all of our cards to get things done. Our boldness towards disruptive innovations and independent thinking sparks behavior change in our communities, and opens up opportunities for people who were once at the sidelines. Ultimately, fulfilling sustainable development goals such as poverty alleviation, clean energy, and sustainable cities and communities are tasks that the youth can take on with the tools and skills that we have, and even more efficiently than our older counterparts.

Our parents, the Baby Boomers, have reinforced us into thinking that we can do anything and we have the privilege to turn our ideas into reality. At the end of the day, it can go either way. We can choose to head towards an inevitable future that past generations have already established or we can turn things around and use our idealism and skills towards sustainable development. It is at this turning point that our generation is in the perfect position to make, impart, and embrace change.


About the Author: Paola Ceriola is currently a senior researcher for the review of the 1994 National Marine Policy and the Sustainable Energy Program at the UP Center for Integrative and Development Studies (UP CIDS). She is also completing her Master of Arts degree in Philippine Development Studies at the UP Asian Center. 

Disclaimer: The view/s expressed in this blog are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Asian Development Bank, its management, its Board of Directors, or its members.

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