Why the New Generation column?

The placement, development and empowerment of the new breed of Chartered Accountant CA(SA) represents a material percentage of employment nationally. It is clear that this generation, with their specific way of dressing, communicating and acting are entering our corporate world and climbing the corporate ladder at a fast pace.

Having an understanding and contributing to the holistic development of our young CA(SA) adults could contribute to developing and retaining essential CA(SA) leadership in businesses in South Africa. We have therefore decided to support the emerging CA(SA) generation readers of asa, by introducing the asa NEW GEN column, with articles that will cultivate and develop your business and personal skills.

This month we introduce you to the different generations in the workplace. We are not discriminating and if you are a grey-haired suited executive you are also welcome to read our column. You might just get a tip or two on how to raise your own children and how to manage your young employees.

What constitutes a generation?

As we grow older, we realise that the sum total of our life events has in many ways made us who we are. Exactly how they affected us is related to how old we were when they occurred. This is what constitutes a generation. The majority of authors and literature that we have reviewed identify the following five generations that are in the workplace this year. The generations are defined by age and characteristics. Enjoy the read in identifying who you are!

Silent/Radio Baby (Age 66-83)

You are a Silent/Radio Baby if you were born between 1925 – 1942 and you:

  • have never been on the internet;
  • remember that owning a car used to be a big deal in your youth;
  • don’t need a television for entertainment;
  • listen to radio in the evenings;
  • use the words: “Nobody asks me anything!”;
  • remember World War 2;
  • remember the elections in 1948; and
  • are conservative and loyal at work.

Boomer (Age 44-65)

You are a Boomer if you were born between 1943 – 1964 and you:

  • remember using a typewriter;
  • enjoyed Elvis and The Beatles;
  • remember the first man on the moon;
  • played with the hula hoop;
  • remember the first Television as black and white, and broadcasting only lasted 2 hours;
  • enjoyed listening to LPs;
  • remember computers that were big and expensive;
  • were told to find a job that provides security;
  • classify suits as corporate wear; and
  • put a strong emphasis on education.

Gen X (Age 32-43)

You are a GEN X if you were born between 1965 – 1976 and you:

  • watched television after school;
  • played Pac Man at the local cafe;
  • remember a programme called Dallas;
  • enjoyed playing your music cassettes;
  • remember your favourite movie as ET or Star Wars;
  • think very relative – there is no absolute truth;
  • remember watching high school dramas like Melrose Place and Beverly Hills 90210;
  • listened to Rap and Techno music that made an impression on you during your high school days;
  • are more techno savvy than a Boomer;
  • have considered piercing your ear, even though you are a male;
  • experienced the impact of the microwave;
  • or your friends’ parents got divorced;
  • lived in a dual income home (mother and father contributed to the income); and
  • have been exposed to the impact of AIDS.

Gen Y (Age 20-31)

You are a GEN Y if you were born between 1977 – 1988 and you:

  • type more than you write;
  • call a computer a laptop and desktop;
  • played Play station and PC games after school;
  • spend weekends at LAN parties;
  • replaced you CD player with a MP3 player;
  • always had a voicemail;
  • use the internet as a way of life;
  • have considered piercing something besides your ear;
  • find it easy to mingle and socialise with people from other cultures and races;
  • would like a virtual office working from home;
  • value relationships;
  • were a day care baby; and
  • enjoy volunteering and are very socially involved.

Millennial (Age 6-19)

You are a Millennial if you were born between 1989 – 2002 and you:

  • will be the new breed in the corporate workplace;
  • will be even more difficult to understand than the Boomers;
  • will live with a very strong entitlement mindset;
  • will be some of the first kids of Gen X in the workplace; and
  • will be a new mystery to solve.

The way forward

Now that you have identified your generation, we would like to invite all our asa New Generation (Millennial and GEN Y) readers to contribute to this column. Areas that we will cover includes emotional intelligence, Nero Linguistic Programming, business discourse and communication, personalities and brain profiles, business etiquette, managing yourself, leading yourself and others and creative thinking. Please send your questions, suggestions and ideas to us to make this column interactive and relevant to your needs.


Valuable resources: Gravett, L & Throckmorton, R (2007). Bridging the generation gap. USA:
Book-mart Press.

Howe, N & Strauss, W (2007). The next 20 years: how customer and workforce attitudes will evolve. Harvard Business Review: July-Aug.

Hira, NA (2007). You Raised them, now manage them. Fortune – Europe Edition: June.

Nemanashi, H (Ed). Emerging Generation Column: Woman Inc. The complete resource for the working woman. Johannesburg: Every Woman Education & Training Solutions.

Adel du Plessis CA (SA) & Hermann du Plessis are part of Therapeia, a Seta accredited consulting, training and coaching business, focussing on the human capital growth of corporate companies and individuals.