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JetSuite President Stephanie Chung on Evolving Leadership

14th October 2019 // By Elite Traveler

JetSuite President Stephanie Chung speaks to Elite Traveler / ©Frank Armstrong

JetSuite is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. As president of the charter company, Stephanie Chung is using this milestone to re-evaluate every aspect of the business and ensure longevity with future generations.

Let’s face it: There’s no shortage of negative stereotypes about millennials in the workplace. They’re viewed as wanting to advance at light speed to the corner office and to come and go as they please. They want ping-pong tables and cold brew on tap, but don’t want to stay in one position for more than a few months. And don’t forget about snacks! They just can’t survive without a fully stocked office fridge.

Whether stereotypes are true or not, they serve as a distraction from the more fundamental issue we face managing millennial employees: Millennials are challenging leaders to truly learn how to lead.

When you look at corporate America, you see that not all managers know how to be effective leaders. At their core, millennials are looking for a workplace environment that provides them with a sense of purpose, one where they will be heard and challenged — and have their individual gifts recognized and nurtured. This requires managers to grow from simply being managers to embracing a far more important role as true leaders.

This generation was not born in a vacuum. The older generations, particular the baby boomers, created them. Many millennials grew up with single parents who over-scheduled them as a means of compensating for being an absent parent. And many of them were latchkey kids who learned to be self-sufficient at a young age. They saw their parents working very hard but still arguing about finances and not taking any vacations. Now, they look at their own situation and say, why should I not take a vacation if I am entitled to it?

Their self-sufficiency can have enormous advantages. When they are inspired to do something, they go and do it. They are resourceful and self-motivated. They want to work toward a cause bigger than themselves. Whether it’s creating a GoFundMe, starting a social media campaign or running for office, they take action.

They don’t have the same fear of authority or respect for hierarchy that previous generations had. They will go right up to the CEO or president and ask a question without thinking twice about it. They do this because they want to understand how the role they play fits into the bigger picture — and they want transparency and openness from their leaders. This can work against them when their senior peers feel disrespected or that millennials have broken the established chain of command. So, sometimes, they do need to be reminded that organizations have structures and protocols in place, and you break them at your own risk.

As business-aviation customers, millennials have had a huge impact on the way we approach customer service, sustainability and partnerships. They want to know that the companies they spend their money with have an ethos that involves more than just providing a high-quality experience, but one that also ties back to a greater purpose.

Today’s successful corporate executives don’t always look like those of yesteryear. Some of the most successful leaders in industries like technology and entertainment have traded in suits for hoodies. They incorporate mindfulness meditation into their days as readily as coffee breaks. This shift in mentality requires a corresponding adjustment in our approach to customer service to a new standard that is much more personalized and anticipatory.

Business aviation has traditionally been one of the more conservative sectors of the industry, but it must adapt to the rapidly transforming landscape if it wishes to sustain its appeal with the next generation of leaders. More diverse than any previous group, the younger generation of private jet travelers wants to see themselves reflected in our marketing and in our crew.

Millennials are challenging the industry to become more sustainable and embrace the shared economy — they’re less interested in owning an asset than in using it on an as-needed basis. This generation wants to know that the companies they do business with are making thoughtful choices about the environmental impact of the brands they partner with. This is reflected in the choices we have made at JetSuite with our refreshed in-cabin amenities, including vegan and cruelty-free Red Flower skincare products and ethically sourced, sustainable Coyuchi blankets.

As business leaders, it’s time to turn away from focusing on tired stereotypes of how millennials do things differently, and instead look to how we can better meet their needs as they gain greater power both as customers and employees. JetSuite is celebrating our 10th year of operation in 2019, and we’re taking this milestone as an opportunity to re-evaluate every aspect of how we do business, and to ensure we are ready to serve and inspire this generation for the next decade and beyond.