Emerging Young Professionals Leadership Workshop

By Caroline Pakenham posted 04-06-2017 06:04 PM


Emerging Young Professionals Leadership Workshop
Article submitted by Vanessa Borkowski, Chair, 2018 YP Summit

For over a decade, WEF and AWWA have collaborated to organize an annual Young Professionals Summit (YP Summit). This year, the YP Summit occurred in warm, sunny Tampa, FL on February 7th.

Breaking from the typical forms of years past, WEF debuted a unique, half-day leadership workshop dubbed the Emerging Young Professionals Leadership (EYPL) Workshop that preceded the YP Summit on Monday, February 6th.

The EYPL Workshop was designed as a forum for students and young professionals to hone skills to carve out their distinct path to success within the water industry. The program was carefully curated to include Member Association (MA) success stories and discussions about emerging challenges such as work-life balance and unconscious bias.

The inaugural day was upon us, and the room was buzzing with energy from about 40 curious students and young professionals. First activity on the agenda: icebreaker, which involved throwing a large beach ball across the room and answering personal questions such as “what is your favorite microbe?”.

Student and Young Professional Committee Chair, Michelle Hatcher (pictured left), welcomes WEF YPs to the Emerging YP Leadership Workshop. Kyle Logue, Michelle Hatcher, and Bruce Cooley (pictured right) socialize after the event at the YP Reception.

After some of the nervous energy dissipated, the audience focused on the MA success stories which included tales about how to establish a new student chapter (Lindsay Bryant), how to organize a successful YP outing (we are talking 50+ attendees, Samantha Austin), and how to plan a not-so-average career fair (think speed dating for a job, Pono Hanson). The audience built upon these stories to express trials and tribulations from their respective MAs. At the end of these success stories, folks walked away with valuable knowledge about activities, fundraisers, and resources to leverage at their local MA.

The second half of the workshop included an interactive presentation about work-life balance by Bruce Cooley and unconscious bias by Vanessa Borkowski. The first portion of the presentation highlighted methods for being a highly productive team member to enjoy life at work and home. The audience was also challenged to create a standard operating procedure to facilitate that balance. The second portion of the presentation discussed how to identify and challenge unconscious bias to engender supportive environments and optimize a team’s performance. These tools were provided to create leadership skills to manage professional and personal aspects of our careers.

Bruce Cooley (pictured left) shares tips and strategies with the group for achieving work-life balance. Vanessa Borkowski (pictured right) discusses how to identify and challenge unconscious bias in the workplace.

The initial buzz of the day carried on as audience members departed from the first EYPL Workshop. Many were teeming with excitement, inspired to bring fresh ideas and activities back home to their MAs and employers.

We were pleased with the initial interest and look forward to creating another unique program for next year’s EYPL Workshop.

If you are interested in volunteering to help plan next year’s EYPL Workshop, please contact Caroline Pakenham at cpakenham@wef.org.

2017 EPYL Workshop Speakers included Karen Kubick (WEF Trustee), Lindsay Bryant (Kentucky-Tennessee WEA), Samantha Austin (Central States WEA), Pono Hanson (Chesapeake WEA), Bruce Cooley (Indiana WEA), and Vanessa Borkowski (New England WEA).