"Headmistress" Alexia Hilbertidou speaks to Tribe about what makes Gen Z Gen Z
From founding GirlBoss NZ, to completing a mission with NASA, and being named the most influential New Zealand woman under 25 at the Westpac Women of Influence Awards. Alexia Hilbertidou is an activist and entrepreneur who started GirlBoss NZ when she was just 16. Here Alexia speaks to Tribe about what it's like to be a Gen Z and gives advice to employers who want to get the most out of this generation of young people entering the workforce.
It sounds like you’ve achieved a lot in your life already! Tell us a bit about you and your career history so far.
I started Girlboss when I was in Year 12 as a result of my own experiences of being the only girl in my Digital Technology and Advanced Physics class. Research showed that many women were often missing from entrepreneurship, tech and other future focused spaces and I was concerned about the social and economic impact of this. I decided I could try and fix it by creating a community for other trailblazers who may have been feeling like the odd one out at their schools too. We started with a 2 day conference featuring 27 speakers in Auckland and it just grew from there. When I finished school I decided to forgo university to work full time on GirlBoss. Corporate organisations and government organisations have seen the importance and effectiveness of our work and are prepared to back us through sponsorship so that our programmes are accessible to everyone. Girlboss now has 12,500 members and our Girlboss Awards achieved almost 500 nominations from exceptional young women who are committed to making positive change in their communities.
What do you think drives you to do all these things? What is it that makes you jump out of bed each day?
I love being able to show these strong willed, passionate change-makers (11-18 years) that it is okay to feel as they do and act as they do. It can be a challenge to be a female in a male dominated space and I want them to know that they are not alone. I want them to stick to the path that they are on and be supported and happy on their journey.
We’ve heard the NZ Herald call you "The Headmistress" of Gen Z – why is that?
I am a Professional Speaker and Consultant on Gen Z. I have worked with some of New Zealand’s biggest brands on how to engage, attract, and retain Gen Z. Gen Z are highly dynamic, entrepreneurial, diverse and vastly different from the Millennial generation. Many companies are scratching their heads wondering why what worked with Millennials is not working with Gen Z, that’s where I provide insight. I have grown my organisation to a network of 12,500 Gen Z, and everyday I am in schools across New Zealand having discussions with Gen Z on their values, views and experiences. I have run workshops in over 100 High schools and shared my views on Gen Z at over 50 corporate events in 4 continents - that’s why I am referred to as the Headmistress of Gen Z. I am dedicated to ensuring that true Kiwi Gen Z voices are heard and that we aren’t reduced to statistics and stereotypes.
What makes Gen Z, Gen Z? How do they differ from previous generations?
I present a 1 hour keynote to answer this exact question! To summarise, Gen Z are realistic, pragmatic, entrepreneurial, diverse activists who are big about money and want to be in charge. Gen Z are vastly different from the Millennial generation.
There’s been a lot of noise about Millennials, but now we’re talking about Gen Z. What impact do you think Gen Z will have on the workplace?
Gen Z’s impact on the work force will be an absolute game-changer. Their views on leadership and hierarchy are vastly different to previous generations. They aren’t brand loyal (as both employees and consumers) and they view a career role as a project until they find the next thing. Bright, ambitious, capable Gen Z'ers would rather work in a startup than a big 4 - that’s revolutionary.
Do you have any advice for employers who want to make sure they get the best out of Gen Z?
ENGAGE Gen Z and Engage Now. Gen Z have been bombarded and saturated with brand promises and niceties. They crave authenticity, so invest early in the talent pipeline. If you want top Gen Z talent, a social media post and a pull-up banner just won’t cut it. I am currently looking for organisations to partner with in our work with high school aged youth - so talk to me. You need to be relevant, real, and radical.