Princes Trust Awards
While technology and digital transformation are ever changing, the expectations of a digital native illustrate what this transition can offer us. This opinion piece demonstrates a Scottish millennial’s experience of living in the digital era.
What are the typical attributes that spring to mind when you think of a millennial? I’d say that, among other things, millennials are entrepreneurial idealists – and, of course, the first generation ever to have grown up totally immersed in a digital world. For these reasons, I’m proud to be a millennial.
First, let’s be clear about definitions. Broadly speaking, a millennial is anyone born between the early 1980s and the turn of the 21st century. According to Scotland’s National Records, 1.4 million Scots residents were born between 1980 and 2000, with slightly more women than men.
Education and innovation
Millennials in Scotland reflect Scotland’s already-established reputation for innovation and excellence in education through our prestigious universities and thriving technology sector. All this means that right now there is an abundance of opportunities, accelerated and increased by advances in technology and the growth of social media. While I explored various options at university, I realised that my real passion lay with technology and business start-ups, so I decided to co-found a technology company called Monomise.
Monomise is a reward-based smoking cessation programme comprising a carbon monoxide reader and a motivational app. The reader calculates daily the levels of harmful carbon monoxide present in the smoker’s body so that real progress can be tracked; the supporting app tracks progress using visual aids, similar to fitness trackers. Alongside studying, I was pitching Monomise to several investors, start-up accelerators and product developers. Eventually, in 2015, I was named one of the UK’s top young entrepreneurs and sponsored to go to San Francisco to pitch the business to players such as Apple, Facebook and Monkey Inferno. That trip, and Monomise itself, were life-changing and taught me that there are endless opportunities for millennials to pursue what they are passionate about. It also confirmed that my passion lies in working in fast-paced, exciting, constantly-evolving environments where I am in charge of my own success.
After university and Monomise, I needed to start focusing on my career. I knew I wasn’t going to be suited to a typical office job with repetitive days merging into one. But at the same time, I did want stability and security. In 2016, I began my career with Atos at the Customer Experience (CX) Lab in Glasgow, working in the Customer-Centric Design team. To start with, I was sceptical about working for a corporate company; but Atos is very forward thinking, with great support for people who want to explore new challenges. Working within CX is similar to working in a start-up in many ways. Firstly, the Labs are full of the latest technology, so I can challenge myself technically. Secondly, my team has never inhibited any creativity, so I can be innovative even when that questions established norms. Thirdly, no two days are the same. We work on discovery, designs, prototyping, pitching the ideas and launching them into businesses.
Whilst this is just the beginning of my journey, it encapsulates how being an entrepreneurial millennial in this digital age can lead to amazing opportunities – and Scotland is constantly providing more. I’ve experienced these opportunities first hand, through the support I received from startup accelerators and networks throughout Scotland and by working in a creative, technologically-advanced environment. And with much more talent being bred now in Scotland, this is an exciting time to work here and to watch how the next generation – Gen Z – will take things forward.