The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce is a great organization to be a part of if you’re located in the Raleigh-Durham area and are an owner of a business or organization. The tools they provide through conferences, lectures, and meetings allow you as a business owner, and your employees to make connections and forge new paths.
On November 27th, 2018 The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce hosted it’s first ever, YPN Conference which focused on the “Why?” in YPN. Young professionals from all across the RDU area came out to network, learn and listen to some amazing speakers that gave insight into how they found their “Why?”
Hosted at the Raleigh Convention Center, a packed house of young professionals flooded in for complimentary breakfast and networking. Meeting people with a variety of backgrounds from the arts to law, I had the opportunity to connect with people I would normally never meet outside the circle of art, design, and marketing. The schedule for the day started with a morning panel whose speakers included Leigh-Kathryn Bonner from Bee Downtown, Tyler Helikson from Happy + Hale, and Mikaya Thurmon from WRAL as the interviewer. Hearing from these speakers, who are young professionals themselves, was inspiring and motivational learning about how they started from the bottom and worked their way up to where they are now. Leigh-Kathyrn Bonner and Tyler Helikson explained how they navigated the rough waters of starting their own businesses, from biking around Raleigh to serve meals to failed attempts in getting investors – both Leigh-Kathryn and Tyler own successful businesses with Leigh-Kathryn just being named one of Forbes Magazine’s, 30 Under 30 for 2019.
After the morning panel, attendees were given the option to choose from 3 different, “Breakout Sessions” which were all geared towards different topics in business. Breakout Session 1 focused on networking in business, Breakout Session 2 focused on community and how you can make a difference through your business workings, and Breakout Session 3 focused on how to be a successful manager in your business and navigate office politics. I chose Breakout Sessions 2 and 3 because of my background in management and non-profit work.
Breakout Session #2: Serve Like A Boss
Focusing on community impact and how you can influence the community through your business workings, Serve Like A Boss was my favorite session because of how knowledgeable the speakers were. Speakers included were Dana Green from Brasfield & Gorrie, Reggy Liger from Cisco, and Brad Murray from Murray Real Estate.
My favorite speaker was specifically Reggy Liger, who also represents his own non-profit organization, Foundation of the World, which works towards “improving quality of education, health awareness and wealth creation in socio-economically
challenged communities with 5 – 29 age group as the target demographics.”
Being a first-generation Haitian-American, Reggy Liger spoke of his want to give back. I found myself relating to his story about connecting to two worlds, due to my own background of being first-generation Cuban-American. Being both a minority and a woman in the world of business is one that has given me an internal fire to succeed, but to also give back to the world. To learn more about Reggy Liger and this cause check out this article featured on ABC11.
Breakout Session #3: Managing Up, Managing Out, Managing Around
This breakout session was a unique one because the audience was not only managers, but also young professionals looking to become managers, and people who wanted advice as to how to deal with difficult managers. Managing Up, Managing Out, Managing Around was able to share valuable knowledge on how to look at different levels of management from both the perspective of the leaders and those being led. Speakers for this session included Carla Pearson from GSK, Steven Pearson from IBM, and Joey Pointer from Fleet Feet Sports.
As someone who has been a member of a Board of Directors, a manager and as someone who has been managed – this panel was extremely informative on how to not only lead but how to work with the people leading you. We all know it can be stressful to be under leadership that you don’t necessarily agree with, or you may even be more qualified than, but this panel explained how everything is learning experience. Bad or difficult leadership will make you a more competent leader in the end because they are a model of a leader that you don’t want to be in the future. Good leaders are examples of how to model your own leadership style in the future and will challenge you to be a better employee.
After attending your two breakout sessions, everyone in attendance was ushered back to the main convention room where three speakers spoke about how they have managed success and failure, both in equal terms. Speakers included were Jon Hayes from RewardStock, David Shaner from Offline Media, and Lauren McGhee from Lauren McGhee Coaching.
The “Why?” in YPN was truly represented during these presentations, as each speaker delivered a story of both success and failure. Jon Hayes spoke about how confidence has influenced his life, even when the chances look slim, David Shaner spoke of his journey of restarting over and over again until he finally got it right, and Lauren McGhee gave us a look into how hurricanes, the death of a close friend, and blessings can all be on in the same, despite the sadness.
In the spirit of the “Why?” in YPN, why should you attend future Young Professional events? Well for me, this event allowed me the possibility of speaking to people I would have never met outside of the art, design and marketing field. It was inspirational, motivational and most of all, it showed me that everyone struggles in the beginning. Being young is challenging; people underestimate your abilities because of your age. But every speaker brought something incredibly valuable to the table and when you were listening, you weren’t focusing on their age, you were listening to their experiences and knowledge. Despite whatever challenges you are facing in your career, whether it be the grind to the top or the responsibility of being there – this event will inspire you to know that anything is possible as long as you know why you’re doing it and why you want it.