Perspective: Peter Wilson on living to 100 … and what that means for HR


This great world city was founded by Brutus of Troy circa 1000BC, after he overthrew King Gogmagog. Not sure if it was because he didn’t like the king’s name or face, but either way that Brutus dude had his way. British gender equity also had its own way later when Queen Boudica led an uprising against the Romans and massacred 70,000 soldiers encamped here in 60AD. So Londinium was never going to be the city of brotherly love. Even the good sisters you had to be careful of, and it remains thus.

At some stage ‘Londinium’ jump started itself across spell check and became the London we have today.

Many mistake the extended lifetime television footage of royalty and architecture as stamping London to be a place that is mainly for British conservatives and the upper class. That couldn’t be further from reality. The city of London has for centuries been an international melting pot. It is first and foremost a city of international commerce and finance, and you encounter all manner of civilisations and languages while wandering its streets.

At the level of business exchange there is a lot of respect for those who demonstrate they can add value to the next trade that comes along. That said, there are also some deep seated racist problems and attitudes, and tension in certain suburbs you learn quickly to stay away from.

This trip I joined the seventh Global Leadership Summit of the London Business School, and as an alumni I was treated to a full exposure of the best professors in their faculty. The session which I found most valuable was called “Living to be 100”. (Yes I wish.) The LBS had evidence that over 50 per cent of those born today will live to be 104 in the UK (and it’s 107 in Japan). Now, only one third of those at the age of 95 will have a serious disability, and that’s half the rate in 1984. 

But what does living to be 100 mean for our work and lives? That was the fascinating part of the analysis. The LBS argued that in the future we will have to better manage our tangible assets – savings property and pensions – and our intangible assets – productivity, vitality and transformation. Whereas in 1980, we could save 5 per cent of our income and have enough for our retirement given the then life expectancy levels, now it would require saving 50 per cent of current incomes, which most would find impossible.

So the challenge now is to manage a long life proactively, over a future 60-year working career and not one covering the current 40 years. So we will have to take time to acquire new skills. We will also need to re-educate ourselves in our sixties and beyond.

The LBS agreed with the predictions of the McKinsey Institute that 50 per cent of today’s jobs won’t be there in 2030, but went further to survey employers who were optimistic, in a significant majority, about hiring more people in five years’ time and beyond.

In short – we do know the jobs of the future won’t be those we understand from today but a positive spirit endures that new skills will be in strong demand to keep growth going. Further the implications for individuals are clear – we will need to keep experimenting, re-educating ourselves, building new personal and business relationships, and to have flexible life and career models. Across all of this the biggest challenge was seen to be complacency. “She’ll be right” mantras will be lonely echoes for those who seek to rely on them.

This article is an edited version. The full article was first published in the October 2015 issue of HRMonthly magazine as ‘Londinium Thinking’. AHRI members receive HRMonthly 11 times per year as part of their membership. Find out more about AHRI membership here

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Perspective: Peter Wilson on living to 100 … and what that means for HR


This great world city was founded by Brutus of Troy circa 1000BC, after he overthrew King Gogmagog. Not sure if it was because he didn’t like the king’s name or face, but either way that Brutus dude had his way. British gender equity also had its own way later when Queen Boudica led an uprising against the Romans and massacred 70,000 soldiers encamped here in 60AD. So Londinium was never going to be the city of brotherly love. Even the good sisters you had to be careful of, and it remains thus.

At some stage ‘Londinium’ jump started itself across spell check and became the London we have today.

Many mistake the extended lifetime television footage of royalty and architecture as stamping London to be a place that is mainly for British conservatives and the upper class. That couldn’t be further from reality. The city of London has for centuries been an international melting pot. It is first and foremost a city of international commerce and finance, and you encounter all manner of civilisations and languages while wandering its streets.

At the level of business exchange there is a lot of respect for those who demonstrate they can add value to the next trade that comes along. That said, there are also some deep seated racist problems and attitudes, and tension in certain suburbs you learn quickly to stay away from.

This trip I joined the seventh Global Leadership Summit of the London Business School, and as an alumni I was treated to a full exposure of the best professors in their faculty. The session which I found most valuable was called “Living to be 100”. (Yes I wish.) The LBS had evidence that over 50 per cent of those born today will live to be 104 in the UK (and it’s 107 in Japan). Now, only one third of those at the age of 95 will have a serious disability, and that’s half the rate in 1984. 

But what does living to be 100 mean for our work and lives? That was the fascinating part of the analysis. The LBS argued that in the future we will have to better manage our tangible assets – savings property and pensions – and our intangible assets – productivity, vitality and transformation. Whereas in 1980, we could save 5 per cent of our income and have enough for our retirement given the then life expectancy levels, now it would require saving 50 per cent of current incomes, which most would find impossible.

So the challenge now is to manage a long life proactively, over a future 60-year working career and not one covering the current 40 years. So we will have to take time to acquire new skills. We will also need to re-educate ourselves in our sixties and beyond.

The LBS agreed with the predictions of the McKinsey Institute that 50 per cent of today’s jobs won’t be there in 2030, but went further to survey employers who were optimistic, in a significant majority, about hiring more people in five years’ time and beyond.

In short – we do know the jobs of the future won’t be those we understand from today but a positive spirit endures that new skills will be in strong demand to keep growth going. Further the implications for individuals are clear – we will need to keep experimenting, re-educating ourselves, building new personal and business relationships, and to have flexible life and career models. Across all of this the biggest challenge was seen to be complacency. “She’ll be right” mantras will be lonely echoes for those who seek to rely on them.

This article is an edited version. The full article was first published in the October 2015 issue of HRMonthly magazine as ‘Londinium Thinking’. AHRI members receive HRMonthly 11 times per year as part of their membership. Find out more about AHRI membership here

Leave a reply

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