MT agony uncle Jeremy Bullmore

How do I show I'm experienced despite my youth?

I've been recruited by a business school but am younger than many of my students...

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 01 Nov 2013

Q. I've recently been recruited as a lecturer at a leading business school but completed my PhD at a young age and some of my older MBA students clearly have a problem with my being a decade younger than them. How can I give myself more gravitas?

JEREMY SAYS: There has always been a suspicion about business schools that they can be far too academic and have too little experience of the real world and the harsh realities of business. The chances are your older students will already have had five or 10 years in reasonably responsible positions and will have been earmarked by their companies for further advancement. So it's understandable that business school attendees are often initially sceptical about their tutors.

Your comparative youth naturally encourages this scepticism - for the simple reason that you manifestly lack real-life, on-the-ground experience. And I have to say that any attempt you might make to correct this perception by artificially acquiring something called gravitas is almost certainly going to be seen through in an instant.

So don't try to disguise your youth: use it. You're there to bring them the latest thoughts and case studies from the wider world; a world they've been too busy to follow. So, ask them to discuss those ideas and rate them. Make it clear that you have as much to learn from them as they have from you - which, of course, is true.

Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. Address your problem to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@managmenttoday.com.

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