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HBR CASE STUDY

How ca n Sarah and
Josh work together
m ore effectively?

Gen Y in the
Workforce
by Tamara J. Erickson


Reprint R0902X
This document is authorized for use only in MBA Global Management by Rob Anthony at Hult International Business School - Boston from October 2012 to February 2013.

How I learned to love millennials (and stop worrying about what they were doing with their iPhones).

HBR CASE STUDY

Gen Y in the Workforce

COPYRIGHT © 2009 HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

by Tamara J. Erickson

“RU BRD?”1
The text message from Ashok stood out in bold
block letters on the small screen of Josh Lewis’s
iPhone. Am I ever, Josh thought, stuffing the
device back into his pocket and emphatically
rolling his chair away from his PC and the backlit spreadsheets and formulas that had made his eyes bloodshot and his mood sour. He stood
up, stretched, and took a minute to consider
his plight: For the past three days, he’d been
crunching U.S. and international film sales, attendance, and merchandising figures nonstop for his boss, Sarah Bennett, the marketing chief
of the movie division of Rising Entertainment.
Bennett and her team were in the midst of
prepping the promotions, advertising, and
branding plan for the next Fire Force Five film;
her presentation to the company’s CEO, its
head of distribution, and other unit leaders was
planned for Friday.
Two more days—many more hours, many

more stats to go over before I sleep, the 23-yearold marketing associate estimated. He plunked himself back down in his chair.
A recent graduate of the University of Southern California, Josh had had visions of making films that offered strong social commentary—
like Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth or Morgan
Spurlock’s Super Size Me—and distributing
them on open platforms so that his message
could reach the greatest number of people.
With some championing from his uncle—a
well-regarded TV producer who knew people
who knew people—Josh joined Rising Entertainment, one of the top three multimedia production and distribution houses in the world. The company boasted large film, television,
home video, music, and licensed merchandise
units, with a catalog of thousands of properties.
Josh expected that the studio, with its location
in the heart of Los Angeles and satellite offices
in six countries, would offer plenty of excite-

HBR’s cases, which are fictional, present common managerial dilemmas.

harvard business review • february 2009
This document is authorized for use only in MBA Global Management by Rob Anthony at Hult International Business School - Boston from October 2012 to February 2013.

page 1

G en Y in the Workforce •• •H BR C A SE S T UDY

ment and opportunity—ever-present TV and
film shoots on the lots, hobnobbing with industry power brokers, the inevitable offers from competing studios, and, of course, the terrific
LA nightlife. But now, with 10 months on the
job, and most of that time relegated to mundane, ancillary projects that informed the bigger initiatives his boss was spearheading, Josh was feeling numb. Who would have thought
that life in a big movie studio could be so routine? he thought to himself. Suddenly there was that familiar vibration
from his iPhone and another text message
from Ashok: “WRUD? TAB?”2 A break
sounded great. He replied immediately—
“BRT”3—and set off for their favorite meeting
spot. As he was heading out, it occurred to Josh
that he should let Sarah know where he was.
He fired off another quick text message.

Sounding Bored

Tamara J. Erickson (tammy@
tammyerickson.com) is a speaker
and consultant on intergenerational
issues in business. She is a McKinsey
Award winner and the author of
Plugged In: The Generation Y Guide to
Thriving at Work (Harvard Business
Press, November 2008). Visit her blog,
Across the Ages, at discussionleader
.hbsp.com/erickson/.

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