Those who know me well understand my feelings about Millennials (those born from approximately 1980 to the early 2000s) in the workplace environment.
Millennials generally show a sense of entitlement and have grown up being taught how special they are. Constantly needing a pat on the back for completing the simplest of tasks, this generation of over 80 million people has now entered the workforce. This creates numerous challenges as most Boomer and Generation X managers don’t keep medals on hand to encourage Millennials to show up on time or to complete tasks.
Three years ago, the Partnership added a new category to our Annual Success Awards: Young Professional of the Year. By definition, those folks are Millennials and collectively, they helped to shatter the perception of Millennials as a generation of entitled slackers who live in their parents’ basement.
This award category recognizes those 35 or younger for excellent professional performance and community involvement. And unlike the traditional entitlement displayed by some in their generation, the two winners have been nothing short of amazing.
Consider Megan Gilman, owner of Active Energies and Young Professional of the Year in 2012. Megan is a board member of Holy Cross Energy and the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability, as well as a small business owner who has grown her local business into an international operation in a few years.
Consider Matt Teeters, of Alpine Bank, Young Professional of the Year in 2013. Matt was the board chair of the Eagle River Youth Coalition and a board member of other local nonprofits, in addition to being recently promoted by Alpine Bank to oversee its expansion into the Denver market.
These Millennials — among many others in our community (I’d be remiss not to include the wonderful staff at the Partnership) — are helping to shatter the idea that this generation is entitled and doesn’t work hard. As point of fact, 20 individuals where nominated for the Young Professional of the Year award — the most nominations of any single category in the Success Awards.
Finalists include Scott Conklin, of Eagle Valley Land Trust, Michael Holton, of Vail Valley Medical Center, and Coen Wijdicks, of Steadman Philippon Research Institute.
Scott has helped the Eagle Valley Land Trust grow its conservation easements and community outreach efforts via improved communications and engagement with the Vail Resorts Echo program. Scott is a also member of the Eagle County Planning Commission and is the president of the Eagle-Vail Community Garden.
Michael helped develop Pink Vail and drive business to Howard Head Sports Medicine and Shaw Regional Cancer Center in an increasingly competitive marketplace. He is a member of the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council and a founder of the Vail Valley Young Professionals group.
Coen contributes to the valley’s health and wellness reputation via research and education through a variety of publications and presentations across the globe. In 2013 alone, Coen was responsible for a variety of international awards for research, numerous presentations at conferences and served as a mentor for university undergraduates. In addition, Coen is a member of the Education and Public Outreach Committee, which connects local fifth- through eighth-grade students to science curriculum.
The accomplishments of these community leaders is nothing less than impressive, regardless of age. It’s almost enough to make an old Generation X guy like me appreciate the spirit that Millennials bring to our valley and our workforce.
We invite you to attend the 11th annual Success Awards on Jan. 31 at the Vilar Performing Arts Center from 6 to 8 p.m. to help celebrate the success of these young professionals and the rest of the business community.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.