Don’t Be Worried!
Politics, inflation, a possible recession, those are things you might be worried about. But, whatever you do, don’t be worried about the next generation.
I had the pleasure of speaking to our Young Leaders at their recent annual conference in Charleston, SC. Not only was I blown away when I walked in the room and there was not a seat to be found, but they were on fire!
My view of the room looked like this (photo at right) right before our panel spoke.
What you can’t hear from this picture is the buzz in the room! There was rock and roll music playing because that is the call to action for the attendees when the break is over, and the next speaker/panel is starting. Above that music was constant chatter and a good bit of laughter. The best part about this picture is no one is on their phones. It was like that before the panel and during it. I was looking into their faces, not the tops of their heads. They were engaged, they were interested, they were asking questions…. They were all in! How can we get more counselors to talk about construction as an option for students? What can we do to help you in the legislature? How do we get more involved in CAGC, were just a few of the questions they asked.
Not only did I see young leaders who were engaged and participating, I saw how much they really cared about each other. You could tell that some of them have been involved with CAGC for years and have been taking advantage of the Young Leader program since its inception, further solidifying their bonds. They are building relationships like so many generations before them have built through Carolinas AGC. They were asking about each other’s families; they were ribbing each other about things that had happened the night before or at past meetings. They are building their own network one Young Leader event at a time.
Carolinas AGC’s Young Leader program was created in 2014 to make sure that the young leaders within our association had an opportunity to learn and network with their peers. We started with two events per year and just a list of people they may or may not have been actual “young” leaders. Today, we have over 230 registered members and are continuing to grow! We host multiple events throughout the Carolinas that are Young Leader specific, and this conference is our biggest event of the year. It started as a 1-day event with about 50 or 60 people. This event marks our third 2-day conference and we had over 175 attendees.
As the program has grown, so has the mission. The mission of the Young Leader program is to prepare construction industry professionals, 45 years old and under, for the challenges and opportunities they will face in the industry. We do this through professional development, networking opportunities, and service in the community. With the foresight of our staff and the action team of young leaders that first year we intentionally called this group Young Leaders and not future leaders, because they were and are already leading. Carolinas AGC is providing them the opportunity to grow in their leadership.
As with most Carolinas AGC meetings, they work hard, play hard. I joined several of the attendees after dinner as we explored the Holy City. The group I was with cheered when their peers walked into the same place where we were. There were high fives and hugs, and one picture of just the female attendees, which is a growing segment of the industry many are excited to see. You could tell they genuinely enjoy each other’s company. Near the end of the evening, we found ourselves in a two-story pub that had a deer’s head hanging within arm’s reach on the 2nd floor. The antlers and head of the deer were holding a variety of belongings from previous patrons. It was not long before this deer head was also holding a few of the members name tags from the meeting. It was not lost on me that the Young Leaders were leaving their mark on this establishment in downtown Charleston, just as they are leaving their mark on the construction industry.