Younger set shows its stuff
By Melanie Franner
Today’s young professionals are more than ready to take on the next generation of responsibilities, as evidenced in the recent activity surrounding various industry initiatives underway. Key among these enterprising projects is the need for more industry collaboration and networking – two factors that will serve this next generation well in the years to come.
Hub of the industry
Events kicked off to a great start this year with the inaugural Hub Night.
“This is a back-to-basics networking event,” explains Chantel Butler, chair of networking, Young Builders Group (YBG), and outside sales, Consolidated Gypsum, who adds that industry holds a lot of educational talks, site-series events, golf tournaments, and the like. “There really wasn’t anything that was a basic networking event so we decided to go ahead and create one.”
YBG’s first Hub night of the year took place in January. The event typically attracts between 100 and 150 people from all walks of industry, including architects, designers, engineers, project managers, suppliers, business owners, and trades.
“A lot of the time we get so wrapped up in our own projects that we forget about everything else,” says Butler. “These events are unstructured. They are designed to help people take a couple hours out of their busy schedules to come together and build the relationships that lead to exceptional construction.”
Butler herself has already experienced the benefits firsthand.
“I love being a part of YBG,” she says. “It really is a great way to meet your industry peers and to make solid business connections for down the road.”
The next events will rotate to different venues around the city.
One on one
Another YBG initiative underway is Facetime, an industry event geared to bringing together emerging and seasoned leaders.
“This is a mentoring-style event,” explains Richard Haas, education committee chair, YBG, and project development manager, PCL Construction. “We created it specifically with the intent to broaden the number of opportunities for YBGers to connect with the more senior leaders in the industry. This event actually gives YBGers face time with these very important people.”
The first of these Facetime events took place earlier this year. It saw each of 10 senior industry leaders paired with four YBGers for a series of 15-minute periods (almost like speed dating!). The YBGers were rotated both among themselves and among the industry icons.
“It was a sold-out event,” says Haas, adding that it was held in the morning over breakfast. “It was an awesome turnout and a highly successful one at that.”
In fact, the event attained a 4.8 out of five on the subsequent electronic feedback scorecard.
Although unscripted for the most part, this Facetime event did have a theme of “disruption”.
“We identified 10 seasoned professionals who we saw as having ‘disrupted’ either industry or their organization in a positive way,” explains Haas. “We wanted to query them on how they enabled ‘disruption’ and how they or we could continue to do so.”
The next Facetime event will be held in the fall of this year and more than likely will entail an afternoon meeting in a restaurant or pub-type setting. The over-riding theme has yet to be chosen, but the concept will remain the same.
“These events are limited to about 70 attendees max,” says Haas. “We value intimacy for these so we’re determined to keep them small.”
With so many great events being offered throughout the industry, it only made sense that sooner or later, someone would start thinking outside of his or her own box. Thus, the creation of Young Professionals (YP) Merge.
“YP Merge is seen as a roundtable that facilitates impactful connections between the development, design and construction YP organizations in Alberta’s capital region,” states Jennifer von Berendt, YBG collaboration chair, and designer, business development, DIALOG. “It has been designed to improve collaboration across the industry.”
To that end, the first YP Merge meeting was held in March 2018. It brought together a number of organizations committed to advancing change through joint participation and deliberate collaboration – all for the betterment of the industry.
The six core groups to form the heart of YP Merge include: YBG, Edmonton Construction Association; Building Owners & Managers Association (BOMA); Commercial Real Estate Development Association (NAIOP); Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE); Young Professionals in Energy (YPE); and Consulting Engineers of Alberta (CEA).
One of the first products of YP Merge is the Shared Events Calendar, which is an online tool administered by the different groups. It not only allows for increased collaboration among the different organizations; it also acts as a reference tool and avoids competition for dates, sponsorship dollars, etc.
Other benefits realized through YP Merge include the building of synergies, more efficient networks, and a presence on social media. For example, YP Merge has created a website, along with home pages on Linkedin, Twitter, and other platforms, as well as the promotion of the #YPMerge hashtag. The latter will provide a source of unbiased reference to all young professionals looking for news, events, and industry updates. Each organization shares the administration role and is encouraged to use the hashtag to promote items of interest.
“The reception to YP Merge has been very positive – and it continues to grow,” says von Berendt. “Everybody involved to date saw the obvious benefit right away. We believe that as soon as other organizations hear about it, they will become engaged as well.”
On the move
With a variety of initiatives well underway across several facets of the Alberta construction industry, it looks like the next generation of personnel will be more than prepared to accept responsibility when the time comes. In the meantime, it looks like they will have plenty of opportunity to take advantage of all the knowledge and expertise currently available from those members of the industry who have rightfully earned their spot as industry leaders and innovators.