Georgina Guedes

The pursuit of job satisfaction in Africa

2013-10-09 07:00

This week, I’ve been at the TBWA Africa Conference. This gathering of the various agencies in the advertising group allows the delegates to share information and to address the challenges that they all face.

One of the issues that the delegates have discussed is that they struggle to attract the best talent in their countries because advertising isn’t seen as an appealing career, especially not by the parents who are funding educations, and that the money can’t equal what is offered by banks and mining conglomerates.

Money versus happiness

This got me thinking about how my generation was raised – to find something that you truly loved doing, and then work out a way of making money out of that. We’ve been taught that money isn’t everything, and that we should be pursuing lifelong happiness and job satisfaction.

But the youth who are entering the workforce now are doing so at the tail end of a global economic crisis – even if they’re coming from Africa, with its remarkable growth potential. I imagine that there are a lot more factors than this at play (I doubt advertising was seen as an appealing job choice in the rest of Africa ten years ago), it’s still interesting to see this sort of thinking at work.

For one thing, massive multinationals can’t employ everyone – and this shouldn’t mean that creative industries get the dregs who couldn’t cut it as accountants and engineers. Smaller businesses in other industries have a lot to offer to people who have true creative spirits and a desire to create original work. Not everyone can be a doctor or a lawyer, nor would everyone be happy doing so.

I think it’s madness to overlook the importance of job satisfaction. You spend more time at your work than you do anywhere else – except maybe in bed – so it had better make you happy. And happiness is made out of a lot more things than money.

Of course, the advertising industry isn’t the only one to deliver creative satisfaction, and the corporate world isn’t the only place to be successful and earn money. But I think it’s sad that a generation of young people on a continent with so much potential are being steered into careers in which the only focus is wealth.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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