As leaders, we must be the ones in “the room” recognizing and advocating for the rising stars we work with.
"By 2025, millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce.” Whether accurate or not (the number was recently challenged but remained widely accepted to be fact), we have all read or heard this statement at some point in the last few years. This number has driven plenty of workplace articles, each drawing a different prediction or sentiment about what this could mean for their respective target audience. And today, it’s my turn.
As someone born in the early ‘80s, and blessed (or cursed, especially in terms of career advancement) with a very youthful appearance and “vibe,” I personally cannot wait for my generation to rise to power and take over the world, figuratively and literally. I have worked most of my association and marketing career supporting and betting on young professionals and emerging leaders. I have made it my personal mission to advocate for this group whenever I have the opportunity. I have shoved and pushed my way to the room (sometimes I am fortunate enough to have an actual seat at the table) just so I could be the person in that room or at that table to throw an emerging professional’s name in the hat – be it a speaking opportunity, a nomination for an award, a publishing opportunity, their name on a project, or a promotion; I strive to be these bright young stars’ advocate.
This is not a writeup about me; I am merely establishing credibility for why you are reading what I have to say. I have worked closely alongside plenty of brilliant millennials in AEC and beyond, who are resourceful, socially conscious, efficient, adventurous, and incredibly adaptable, but not always heard or seen. They are today. At Zweig Group, we embrace the idea of Rising Stars. In our Dallas office, I am the oldest staff member by over a decade, and I am not even 40 yet. I am in awe of our office’s work ethic, pace, efficiency of collaboration, dedication, and intelligence. If they were eligible for Zweig Group’s Rising Stars Award, I would have entered each of their names.
The Rising Stars Award recognizes younger professionals whose exceptional technical capability, leadership ability, effective teaching or research, or public service has benefited the design professions, their employers, project owners, and society. Does that sound like someone at your firm?
All the nominees for the Rising Stars Award have someone in “the room” advocating for them. As much as we must credit these young professionals for their hard work, the cold hard truth is unless their firm, a manager, or a mentor, cares to encourage and recognize it, hard work and brilliance often get buried. As leaders, we need to give credit where it’s due. Giving credit and recognition might actually be the easy part (and could even encourage your young professionals to stick around), but having created opportunities and carved out space for these Rising Stars to shine is even more admirable. Being nominated for this award says a lot about these young professionals, but we must not neglect what this also says about their firms.
Be it 75 percent or 40 percent, this generation is a (work) force to be reckoned with, and so much more capable than we can probably even imagine. I look forward to growing older and wiser with my fellow emerging professionals; and making every room and every table we occupy the room to be in and the table to be at. I predict we will see some of the winners of this award in these rooms and at these tables.
Shirley Che is director of marketing and media at Zweig Group. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rising Stars in the AEC Industry Award recognizes younger professionals whose exceptional technical capability, leadership ability, effective teaching or research, or public service has benefited the design professions, their employers, project owners, and society. Nominees must be 40 years of age or younger as of Dec. 31, 2021, and working in the United States. Click here to learn more!