Early talent* – whose responsibility is it?

Kysha Gibson
4 min readAug 24, 2023

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(*Note: For the purposes of this discussion, I am defining a ‘new entrant’ or ‘early talent’ individual as someone who has joined the workforce for the first time within the past 1 to 3 years, usually after graduating from university or a technical program.)

I have been reflecting on one of the most important, but often overlooked and underestimated, groups of people in organisations: new entrants or early talent.

In recent times, early talent has been facing unprecedented headwinds. Many in this group started their current job during Covid-19, were onboarded fully- or quasi-remotely, and arguably now operate within a tenuous on-the-job network and team culture. Furthermore, work is in the midst of transitioning to more in-person interactions, which means that early talent must once again adjust and figure out how to be successful in this new environment. To top it all off, the uncertainty of having to navigate macroeconomic challenges such as a surging cost of living with salaries that aren’t keeping up, and the insecurity that ensues, cannot be ignored.

There are also tailwinds at a new entrant’s disposal. Firstly, early talent is digitally savvy, regularly putting new technologies like generative AI into practice where others might still be learning the theory or stuck in old habits. Moreover, in my experience this group is more in tune with their mental health and firm with personal boundaries. At Accenture UK, our early talent group has a large proportion of high achieving people from underrepresented groups across the dimensions of race, gender, religion, socioeconomic, sexuality and neurological diversity. In addition to having unique perspectives that enrich problem-solving and contribute to innovation, these individuals are likely to have overcome challenges, which also builds resilience and sets them up for personal growth and achievement.

The reality is that all organisations need early talent to be engaged, learn, grow and remain motivated. We need them and they need us. But, current headwinds and tailwinds require all stakeholders to adapt in order to make this symbiotic relationship fit for the future.

There are three sets of stakeholders that have shared responsibility for giving early talent the best chance of a successful start to their career:

1. New entrants – this is just the first chapter in your career journey.

25 years ago I was convinced that I wanted to be an actuary. I chose my university with this profession in mind but after a mandatory class, I became fascinated with the role business has to play in customer experiences. In my first job I gained in-depth experience in marketing (instead of insurance!) and eventually I found my way to management consulting, a career that I’ve been honing now for over 20 years. I don’t regret a minute of my twists and turns as a new entrant, and my abilities as a management consultant have been enhanced as a result of the skills I developed during that time.

My advice to someone who is a new entrant: a career comprises multiple chapters, and your goals will likely change along the way. Be open and flexible to new topics in this period. The skills that you develop in the early years will build a solid foundation, plus you might discover a new field of interest that paves the way for the next stage.

2. Leaders – put in the effort to develop your future self

Building the workforce of the future is a mandatory requirement for all true leaders in an organisation. That investment is a key part of the job of a leader and should be baked into team structure and management. How we onboard, train and nurture also has to be adapted for the modern employee, and isn’t a carbon copy of yesteryear.

As leaders we need to prepare early talent for a work environment that has changed significantly from when we were at that stage. There is added complexity, particularly when factoring in a post-Covid world. We must use tools and employ skills relevant to today. That means creating opportunities to teach on the job, helping to develop social career skills and most importantly enabling work-life balance and flexibility.

3. Third parties – clients are also key to early talent development

In management consulting we problem solve for and with our clients. One important aspect is to have an experienced team that has solved similar problems previously. However, there is also a need for renewed energy and new ideas. Including early talent and creating a blended team can complement experience, foster diversity of thought and enhance tried and tested approaches. In offering learning opportunities to this group, clients contribute to the growth and development of our early talent professionals, thus helping to nurture the pipeline of future talent.

Developing early talent is a shared responsibility

Organisations spend a lot of time and effort attracting the best and brightest to join their ranks. However, the work doesn’t stop there. Early talent needs the right conditions to learn and grow, which requires hands-on management and leadership, along with early exposure to the end client or customer. If these three stakeholder groups work in concert, there is no stopping the growth of the individual, the organisation and industry as a whole. And if they don’t, we will be all worse off.

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Kysha Gibson

Accenture Consulting Partner | World explorer (122 countries) | Diversity & Inclusion builder. Trinidadian | British. Sharing my thoughts. IG @Kyshagibson