In 2014, I gave a presentation at EDPA ACCESS for the first time. The subject? Millennials in the Workplace. As a Millennial myself, I was curious to understand how my generation was perceived. But even more than that, I wanted to know how generations could not only work together but also learn from one another. I believed then—and still do—that we all have our strengths and that our industry gives us many amazing opportunities to share what we know with others. For me, intergenerational learning is one of the unique advantages associated with being an active participant in EDPA.
The standing-room only session explored not only individual experiences among different generations but also pre-conceptions picked up from media coverage, something that, in hindsight, appeared to widen the chasm. Probably the major concern from the older session attendees was that younger people were not willing to take initiative, to go the extra mile. The younger participants felt that older people were not particularly open to new ways of doing things.
Perhaps it’s just at my company, Access TCA, but I believe that in four years, we’ve come a long way in resolving these differences. As the economy becomes more favorable to our industry, we really don’t have time to focus on our differences. We all must pull together to make our clients happy. Bias still shows its head in the media, but in our industry, we are synthesizing the contributions of everyone.
Since that session, I’ve been pleased to lead the Women in Exhibitions group, and one thing that is very exciting for us is the recent launch of our mentorship program, something that will go a long way in enabling women of all ages to tap the knowledge and resources that will make them effective leaders who still manage to have “lives.” Having a mentor is invaluable—and this is a program I hope to be expanded throughout our membership. I see this program as an outgrowth of the conversation we started four years ago. As our industry attracts more young people and older people choose to retire, the conversation leading to the integration of everyone’s strengths continues to be important.