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Every generation has its own opportunities and challenges. No one understands how the baby boomers are still benefiting from the many good years gone by while the young people in our society are far from seeing these benefits like Philips CEO Frans van Houten. “Take the recent economic crisis, which has hampered your entrance into the labour market. Many of you are unemployed, which is frustrating and may affect your future. But I urge you not to lose heart.”

Van Houten appeals to “Generation Y” at the introduction of Brainport’s revamped strategy.

Van Houten: “My generation has only part of the solution to global challenges, such as climate change, population growth, poverty, hunger and chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer. We need your energy and your fresh insight. You must have the courage to choose a radically different approach and path that my generation cannot provide.”

But Frans van Houten also identifies more opportunities than problems facing today’s youth: “When I look at your generation, I see a huge potential to change the world for the better. You are confident, expressive, open-minded and optimistic. From the day you were born you have lived in a digital world: you are always connected to one another and constantly sharing your experiences. And you are probably the best-educated generation in history. Your energy and enthusiasm are very welcome at innovative companies like Philips.”

Van Houten is critical of his own generation, but emphasises that it was prepared to take the necessary steps for change.

“The old economy – which my generation inherited and whose limits have now been reached – is linear. Products are used in a specific way, discarded and then replaced by a new version. This is inefficient and creates unsustainable waste. In the circular economy – which hopefully you will all embrace – products are developed and manufactured to be (re)used multiple times or even endlessly. (…) My generation has contributed to the world as it is today, but you will prepare the world for the future. I am very curious as to what you, as members of Generation Y, can all achieve with your efforts and creativity. I am convinced that you will bring us one step closer to a more strongly connected and sustainable world.”

(photo (c) Brainport)