• Ashleigh Bennett

Being Millennial - Ashleigh Bennett

Mid-20s, employment lawyer, organiser young Takapuna professionals group...

We are profiling ‘Millennials' in this, our first issue for 2018. What exactly is a Millennial you might ask? The answer is they are Teenagers, 20 and 30 year olds who were born in the 80s and 90s. They’ve also been called 'Generation Y’.
Millennials are generally regarded as being more open-minded, accepting, confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and receptive to new ideas and ways of living. Millennials are often cited as being more self-assured than past generations, they will also have a strong sense of civic responsibility, a healthy work-life balance and have socially liberal views. The generation is generally marked by an increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies.
On the downside they've been described as lazy, narcissistic and prone to jump from job to job. Portrayed as wanting flexible work schedules, more 'me time’ on the job and seek nonstop feedback and career advice. The have also been called the ‘Generation Me', with more of an emphasis on extrinsic values such as money, fame, and image, and less emphasis on intrinsic values such as self-acceptance, group affiliation and community.
The Channel Magazine team set out to find some answers and talked to six local North Shore people who span the Millennial range. From a teenager at school through to a business person running his own firm. Also in our Millennial mix is an Olympic gold medalist, an actor, a marketer and politician and young lawyer.

Channel Magazine: Please share your story so far. What are the highlights for you?
Ashleigh Bennett: I grew up in Auckland and then spent five years studying in Wellington.  Wellington was great for a while, but I missed Takapuna Beach, the North Shore weather and my family far too much. In 2014 I moved home and started my first job as a solicitor at Simpson Western in Takapuna.  I've been at Simpson Western for over three years now, working in the employment law team. 

CM: What is your passion and where do you hope it will take you in 2018 and beyond?
AB: Like the rest of my family, I am passionate about our local community.  It's a great place to live and work and I want to be involved in making sure it keeps getting better!
At the end of 2017, I was involved in launching a young professionals and business owners group in Takapuna, we've called the New Takapuna. The idea for the group began over a Friday night drink, where we lamented the lack of networking/relationship building opportunities in the local area for younger professionals and business owners. We kick-started the group with a launch event at Simpson Western and were excited to have close to 50 people along! Our goal for 2018 is to build the group, currently in its infancy, to be an established platform for younger professionals and business owners to meet and get to know others in our local business community.  We want to get alongside businesses and other community groups in the area to hold regular social and business events.

CM: What do you think will be important trends in 2018 and beyond and how will they impact on you?
AB: I think one of the main trends will be the continuation of the strong global women's movements that kicked off last year – as they grow momentum, 2018 is an exciting time to be a female! Other than that, a couple of other things that come to mind are:

  • Increasing focus on environment and sustainability - one of my new year resolutions for 2018 is to be completely plastic bag free and reduce my single use plastic consumption, as the world becomes more aware of the environmental impact of plastics on the oceans and animals. I have also become more aware of ethically-produced and environmentally-sustainable clothing brands, and the benefits of shopping locally and New Zealand-made!
  • Demand for flexibility – technology is continuing to get better and better, and allow us to "connect" from wherever we are. For me, I think it is really important that this translates to greater flexibility in workplaces.  Millennials work differently, and this should be celebrated rather than ignored.

CM: Valentine’s Day is this month.  Will you celebrate this and if so, how?
AB: I will probably celebrate with a nice dinner out with my boyfriend – ideally somewhere we can sit in the sun with a glass of wine. We aren't big on Valentine's Day gifts but it's a good day to spend some time together and celebrate the little things.   

CM: What would be your dream North Shore day out and who would you share it with?
AB: I live in the Kauri Park area, surrounded by amazing hidden bush tracks and minutes from Beach Haven's inner harbour beaches.  My dream day out would be a beautiful sunny morning spent exploring the bush and beaches with my four-legged best friend Richie, followed by lunch at one of Birkenhead's great cafes, and then the afternoon spent with family or friends, either at home or the pub. 

CM: Being a millennial means….
AB: …being part of the generation that wants it all, and wants it now!  It means being busy, active, always connected, tech-savvy, and on the move, while also maintaining a work-life balance far better than other generations have enjoyed. And it may be a terrible cliché, but it also means going out for brunch every weekend!

CM: What’s the best and worst thing about being a millennial?
AB: The best thing about being a millennial is the ability to be so connected. We can use technology to stay in touch with family, friends and work, wherever we are. I have my sister in Sydney and best friends in Newcastle, Scotland and London, but with Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram it sometimes feels like they could be just around the corner!
The worst - the bad rap millennials get for being needy, entitled, lazy and materialistic!