So what is it you do exactly, darling? The benefits of parents seeing the edited highlights of your working day may outweigh the downsides

October 23, 2013 5:53 pm

So what is it you do exactly, darling?

By Emma Jacobs

The benefits of parents seeing the edited highlights of your working day may outweigh the downsides

First it was our daughters, then our sons and, in some cases, even dogs. Now it is the turn of our mothers and fathers. LinkedIn’s decision to appoint November 7 “Bring in your parents to work day” has encouraged others to follow suit: Deutsche Bank, Edelman and Logitech have signed up. Google has already welcomed in its engineers’ parents. The idea was pioneered by staff at LinkedIn, the professional social networking site, who found it impossible to explain to their parents what they did at work.The idea made me twitchy, recalling parents’ day at school.

Surely helicopter parenting does not need to be further encouraged in the office? As it is, a survey by Adecco, the human resources company, found last year that 8 per cent of recent university graduates had a parent accompany them to a job interview and 3 per cent had them sit in on it too. Do we really need more of the same?

As part of my job, I quiz people about their working lives in an effort to illuminate dying industries and new professions. Worried about your digital afterlife? There is someone to fix that. Need help prepping your child for a play date? Yes, that can be taken care of for a fee.

Yet teasing out what is interesting about the job can feel akin to being a private detective sifting through a bin, picking out the interesting bits and leaving a lot of rubbish out.

Even my mother would surely be bored watching me use a computer? In many professions much of what we do goes on between our ears, an internal process that is tedious to watch.

Yet the benefits of inviting parents in to see the edited highlights of your working day – which is what LinkedIn suggests – may well outweigh the downsides.

Work may move you to a different social and financial world to your family. When interviewing chief executives, data scientists or housekeepers, I usually ask what their parents think of their job. Their answer can be revealing.

Lord Foster of Thames Bank, who pilots helicopters in his spare time, became teary-eyed at the thought of his deceased parents (his father managed a furniture and pawnshop) surveying his vast architectural practice.

My question also serves to illustrate the generational change in work. How do you explain the abstract position of data scientist?

As manufacturers give way to service companies and the pace of technological change quickens, many are employed in new niches and strange sectors, forging careers that appear to be unfathomable to our parents.

Even old jobs may appear unrecognisable to previous generations. My father died a decade ago. He was a British newspaper journalist who worked in the 1970s and early 1980s as a labour correspondent. Then, trade unions had the power to paralyse the country. To my toddler son, this is likely to be unthinkable – union membership in the UK peaked in 1980, at 12.2m according to Trades Union Congress figures; last year the number of union members dropped to less than half that figure. And to my father my blogs, tweets and vines would be comical.

When he joined the Today newspaper, which launched in 1986 and pioneered colour printing and electronic production, Dad wrestled with the technology. In a television documentary chronicling the British newspaper industry, I recall vividly a shot inside Today’s futuristic offices. My father stood in a huddle of open-mouthed journalists being shown how to use a computer.

As the newspaper industry goes through yet another crunch time as print gives way to digital editions on mobile phones and iPads, and social media make even an online homepage seem redundant, I wish that I could see his befuddled bemusement. A longer perspective might help to keep my eye fixed on the truisms of journalism: that despite the tweets and listicles a good story remains a good story.

In fact, most jobs, however new we believe them to be, are not so different after all.Phil de Franco, the YouTube star, tells his parents that he makes “videos on the internet” or owns a production company. We tend to explain our jobs to mothers and fathers in simple terms – a profession that once seemed abstract and problematic can be rendered straightforward.

The best reason to invite our parents to work, however, may be to flatten the corporate hierarchy. To witness a terrifying boss silenced by a mother who recalls their secret teenage devotion to Fluffy Bunny would surely prove a great leveller.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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