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The Talk of Town Center We gathered our group of go-getters at Ruth’s Chris in Virginia Beach Town Center for an after-work photo shoot. Thank you to the restaurant and staff for allowing us the use of your impeccable venue. 36

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on the Move

These Outstanding Up-And-Comers Are Shaping The Future Of Coastal Virginia’s Business Community Compiled by Angela Blue | Photography by David Uhrin and Jim Pile

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hoever said that youth is wasted on the young obviously hasn’t met this motivated group of millennials. These individuals represent some of the best and brightest that our region has to offer in young, innovative and creative talent. Their hardworking mentalities, dynamic talents and ambitious attitudes are tenaciously taking them to the top of their chosen fields. It’s not easy choosing which young professionals to feature—here in Coastal Virginia, we’re fortunate to have a profuse pool of talented wun-

derkinds. CoVa BIZ held an online nomination period where colleagues and coworkers nominated a millennial—or millennials nominated themselves. Honorees were chosen by our editorial staff, with focus put on identifying individuals who exemplify success in their professions while also working within the community to advance the region as a whole. Without further ado, it is our sincere pleasure to introduce to our readers the inaugural class of Millennials on the Move.

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How do you see your generation (millennials)? How do you think older generations define millennials? Millennials are so open to the world around us because it’s so much easier to reach. We value work/life balance, but our work day isn’t confined to 9–5. I check emails during what I call “second shift” (after the kids go to bed) not because I can’t balance home/work, but because it’s quick and easy and allows me to communicate more effectively during work hours. We value civic engagement and believe in the impact we can make. Millennials, due to the economic downturn, have learned to do more with less, to simplify in a very refreshing way. I go to many conferences and seminars that peg millennials as unstable jobhoppers, who are lazy and entitled. I think there are job-hopping, lazy, entitled people in every generation. I think the most significant difference between generations is that millennials can only vaguely remember a time before cell phones, the Internet, mobile-everything, and we are building our lives and careers with an innate understanding of the connectivity and knowledge we have at our fingertips.

ERIN BLACK, 35 SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT / DIRECTOR OF MARKETING OLD POINT NATIONAL BANK, HAMPTON

In what ways does having younger employees add to a company’s success? At Old Point, we hire the right person for the right job. Some of our employees are boomers, and others are Generation Y—we just want the best people! When we hire employees fresh out of college, we challenge them to write down everything that doesn’t make sense. Old Point doesn’t believe in a “we’ve always done it that way” culture, and new employees have the clarity to see new efficiencies. What do you look for in a job/company? At 20, I said growth potential. Today, I say flexibility. Luckily, Old Point not only values my family, but they go above and beyond to ensure that I meet my home goals as well as my professional objectives. I don’t want to miss the field trips or the chorus concert—and the flexibility I’m afforded is the most valuable benefit my organization offers. What’s more important to you: net worth vs. a job you love? I think there’s a tipping point buried in my answer. At a certain point, I needed more income to be able to do the things I wanted to do. Now, I’m comfortable with my income, so I wouldn’t make a career move based on income. I value my flexibility and the people I work with—I genuinely love our Old Point team. Do you feel you are still refining/shaping what you want from your career? Absolutely. In my first professional job, I did everything in marketing. Today, I’ve narrowed my scope significantly, focusing on certain aspects of marketing. Although I’ve refined my daily tasks, I still have expertise in other areas, which has not only made me marketable but also a great investment for my organization. Tell us about some of your favorite ways to do worthwhile networking. I don’t really think of it as networking, but, in reality, I network everywhere I go: at church, at the grocery store, at my children’s school—not because I want to get ahead in my career, but because you never know when you might need someone or when someone might need you. I want to be a go-to, and I want to have people in my “village” who are go-tos as well. Networking, to me, is opening doors, and one day when you need to walk through one of those doors, it’s already unlocked. How are you contributing to life/community outside of the workplace? I’ve actively served on a number of boards over the years that focused on childhood wellness and early education. I love that my children attended the best preschool in Hampton Roads, and that same education was provided (payment based on income) to every other child in our community. Every child looked different, came from a unique background and held a different worldview, but every single one was treated equally and given the same chance to succeed. My time is limited and valuable, but that is something worth contributing to. Additionally, I currently manage the social media presence at my church (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook). I found, due to the Great Recession, while nonprofits still needed general oversight, what they really needed was someone to help with the work. I believe millennials will permaFrom her nomination: nently merge board service and active volunteerism as they begin to Erin’s positive energy and take on more leadership roles in the community. attitude, and her professional and personal accomplishments make her What advice would you offer to other millennials or recent a role model for all young women who graduates about getting their careers to take off? are striving to “do it all.” At 35, she is My advice isn’t very tweet-able, quote-able or pin-able … I just married, has three children all under the worked really, really hard. I took every opportunity, I worked late, age of 6, a dynamic career and a leadI came in early, I sought (and listened!) to the advice of anyone ing role in our community. She has ahead me, and I networked with everyone I met. I tried really hard, proven that it can be done and is and I believe people see and reward that level of sincere enthusiasm. truly a Millennial on the Move! —Laura Rissling, colleague

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DEANDRE COKE, 26 FINANCIAL ADVISOR / UNIT DIRECTOR NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL, CHESAPEAKE

How do you see your generation (millennials)? How do you think older generations define millennials? I see millennials as a group of challenge-seeking, community-minded, forward-thinking individuals. A group of people who, in general, avoid complacency where possible in life. Unfortunately, most individuals in older generations, it seems, view us differently. Because we typically don’t stay in one place for long, were raised in the age of instant gratification and heightened technology, we’re viewed as never being satisfied with the status quo and never willing to get our hands dirty. In what ways does having younger employees add to a company’s success? Younger employees, when placed in the right environments, foster a lot of energy and excitement and a willingness to learn and can bring newer thinking and skills to the table. Small businesses can start planting the seeds of their long-term succession plan while larger companies are able to have their younger employees learn under an older, more skilled employee who may be transitioning into retirement soon. This would help prevent a steep drop-off in the talents of the older workforce. What have been a few keys to your success so far? There have been three key factors for me: 1. A strong work ethic instilled in me by my parents. 2. Surrounding myself with likeminded people who also are working hard toward their goals and do so while maintaining a positive outlook on life. 3. Giving back to the community. I’ve found that the more time I have spent dedicated to serving the community, the more the community ends up giving back to me opportunities that I probably wouldn’t have had otherwise.

What do you look for in a job/company? I look for a great culture in a place where people aren’t afraid to have fun during the day but can buckle down and get work done when needed as well. A good work environment should foster personal and professional development, and no two days should be the same. What about your work culture can you attribute to your success? Although no workplace is perfect, I feel our culture here at Northwestern Mutual is second to none. Everyone works hard to build each other up when needed, offer friendly competition to push each other to achieve our goals, and we have a strong focus on impacting as many lives in the community as possible. Some of the people I enjoy hanging around with the most outside of work are the people I see every day at the office. How can you not succeed in an environment like that? What’s more important to you: net worth vs. a job you love? Definitely a job you love. It’s much more important to me to enjoy what I do every day than to suffer trying to build up a high net worth. Do you feel you are still refining/shaping what you want from your career? I think it would be impossible for any millennial to say no to this question. Although I am very comfortable with where I am and what I’m doing, there is always room to keep developing and growing. For me, that entails continuing to expand my financial planning practice around the country and developing new advisors to work with me as well.

Tell us about some of your favorite ways to do worthwhile networking. My favorite ways to network are through social atmospheres in different community organizations. I much less prefer structured “go around the room” networking as I feel people are more trying to sell to each other rather than connect with each other. If an organization is having a happy hour or other social type of event, I tend to take time to ask people more about who they are as opposed to what they do. That seems to make more of a lasting impression for most people. How are you contributing to life/community outside of the workplace? I am very passionate about a few different organizations. I sit on the board of directors as the Regional Engagement Vice Chair for tHRive, a young professionals program of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. I’m also the membership chair for the Chesapeake Division board of the Chamber. Likewise, I handle regional engagement for TBA NextGen, the young professional division of the Tidewater Builders Association, and I volunteer with the Roc Solid foundation. As far as life in general, I travel incessantly. I’ve covered seven countries this year alone! What advice would you offer to other millennials or recent graduates about getting their careers to take off? Build your center of influences of people who are older and wiser than you. Take time to learn from their successes and failures. Have people who are in your “corner” in all aspects of life. Surround yourself with people your age who are positive thinkers and driven to do great things. Serve your community, and your community will serve you. Make sure you honor your commitments to people as they will remember you more for what you do than for what you say. Oh, and it’s never too early to start saving for the future. W W W. C O V A B I Z M A G . C O M

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XERXES NABONG, 33 OWNER/FINANCIAL ADVISOR

| VIRGINIA BEACH FINANCIAL PLANNING

COMMUNITY DIRECTOR | YELP

How do you see your generation (millennials)? How do you think older generations define millennials? Millennials are an untapped source of ideas and wisdom that will move our world forward. We’re pushing buttons in life, technology and innovation that have and will continue to change the landscape of relationships, business and how we live. The oldest segment of my generation have yet to reach the prime in our careers. We’re still experiencing life. We’re really just getting started. The digital world plays a big role in how older generations view and define millennials. It’s sometimes negative. Narcissistic and entitled are two things that I often see. Positively speaking, I do think they admire what millennials are facing ahead. We’ve grown up and continue to learn in a world that no other generation experienced in their time. The amount of knowledge that is available to absorb is hugely impactful in how this world evolves, and I think older generations see us leading that push. In what ways does having younger employees add to a company’s success? First, it gives current leadership the opportunity to work on passing the torch. You’ve heard that phrase, “leaders are made, not born.” It’s the chance to reach within and find the untapped potential that will lead tomorrow. In many cases, it’s not always about the younger employees adding to the company’s success; it’s about the younger people being the company’s success. What do you look for in a job/company? I look for two things that are on opposite sides of the spectrum. 1) The fist pump “hell yeah” moment and 2) the moment of reflection where you are content. There has to be moments in your work when accomplishing a task, sales goal or success with a client excites you enough to say “hell yeah” and fist pump. You then need to have those times where you’re able to sit back and reflect on what you do day in and day out and feel a sense of contentment. What about your work culture can you attribute to your success? Five years ago I would have said being a workaholic. To some extent, I still am, but I’ve learned that embracing on your strengths and then building your team around their different strengths can make the group and, in essence, each person, far more successful than anyone can achieve on their own. Of course, you have to have fun. Events and parties are fun. I host events all the time. We play. We laugh. We have tons of fun. At times it doesn’t feel like work, and that, to me, is one way I define success. What’s more important to you: net worth vs. a job you love? You had to ask a finance guy this question! Because of the hats I wear, I’m actually able to really answer both. I love the world of financial planning. I help people get to a higher level of financial success and get paid well to do it. In working for Yelp, I create opportunities and moments for people to find great local businesses and meet each other. Face to face. To smile. To laugh. I eat, drink, shop, play, throw awesome parties and I get paid for it. Do you feel you are still refining/shaping what you want from your career? I think about this every day. There’s always a new challenge. I can listen to all the noise around me. When I really think back to my good days at work, it’s about having a positive impact, making a difference and improving lives. This is what I ultimately want of my career. It’s who I work for, the job that I have or how the world changes that will reshape how I deliver on this. Tell us about some of your favorite ways to do worthwhile networking. When meeting new people I always ask my favorite question, “What’s your story?” Everyone has one. I’d like to hear it. I often go to networking events without any intention other than to meet two to three people so I can listen to their story. Worthwhile networking isn’t always about finding From his business contacts to help you. Sometimes it’s perfectly fine to just nomination: Xerxes keep a pulse on who is moving and shaking in the community. is second to none when it comes to networking What advice would you offer to other millennials or recent and bringing people graduates about getting their careers to take off? together. —Dayna It’s important that you surround yourself with many different Rosales, friend people from many different industries. You may not know exactly what you want just yet, and it may be several years before you figure it out. Never be the smartest person in the room. Listen to people’s stories. Their story could be your motivation to your next job or promotion. Also, be flexible about where you want to live. Opportunities across many different fields exist all over the world.

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SHEENA JEFFERS, 30 ARTS INTEGRATION DIRECTOR

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VIRGINIA BEACH

How do you see your generation (millennials)? How do you think older generations define millennials? Millennials are go-getters who also set boundaries. We want successful careers, and we’re willing to work for it, but we also want lives outside of boardrooms; we want happy families, healthy and active lifestyles, and we want mission-oriented work that leaves us feeling full instead of drained. Money—while important—is not the only aspect of life that drives our work ethic. We simply aren’t interested in killing ourselves at work for numbers in our bank accounts. In what ways does having younger employees add to a company’s success? We’re malleable, we’re curious, we’re efficient, we have ideas. We come to the table with skillsets that need to be honed, but we are open-minded and willing to learn. We respect our elders’ knowledge and experience, but we’d like to discuss efficiency or processes. Technology changed our world, so processes may be able to be streamlined, re-directed or re-focused. We like to understand why we do what we do, whom we are benefiting and where our energy is being directed. What have been a few keys to your success so far? 1. Showing up: showing up digitally (via e-mail, phone, social media) and showing up in person (networking meetings, stepping up when someone needs help, being a “go-to” person when an organization needs someone to count on). 2. Integrity: Do what you’ll say you’ll do by when you say you’ll do it. 3. Say “yes” more than you say “no.” What do you look for in a job/company? Empowerment: I am inspired by companies who trust their employees enough to give them the power or authority to complete the work they were hired to do. A good company provides excellent training, professional development opportunities, mentorship and evaluations that help guide the employee, but they allow their employee to explore new routes or new possibilities to completing work. Flexibility: Work can be done during any hour of the day. We are no longer in a period of time when you must stand by the phone and wait for it to ring. Work/ life balance is important, and the better the balance, the better employee we can all be. Clarity: For coherence and intelligibility of a team, clarity is important. I like to know why we’re all gathered in a space. What are we passionate about achieving? What are our identifiable steps to achieving this mission? How will we know when we’ve achieved it? Clarity in a mission, in action steps, in leadership is important to running a successful organization, and I am always interested in helping an organization achieve big-time goals!

What about your work culture can you attribute to your success? An understanding that there isn’t a separation of my work and my life. Everything I do comes back to building relationships, fostering connections and implementing goals. I wake up each morning with missions—not assignments—and I go to bed each night knowing every minute of my effort will result in deeper connections with my community, thus better results in my work. What’s more important to you: net worth vs. a job you love? Hands down, no debate: a job I love. I have worked for money; it left me feeling like an empty clam shell. I have worked for missions I love, and I’m always left feeling abundant. I make daily decisions based off of the work opportunity, not based on money. I set my financial life up to secure my right to prioritize what work is important to me. That way, I’m not dependent on any particular income, and I can shift that based on the work that is important to me or my community. Do you feel you are still refining/shaping what you want from your career? Absolutely! I re-assess my interests, skillset and finances every 365 days. I ask myself: Am I still growing in this opportunity? Am I challenged? Am I directly igniting change for the better in this opportunity? Has the work changed? Have I changed? Am I in the best possible place for me right now? I am thankful for every opportunity that comes my way, but I also understand that sometimes you outgrow opportunities or you may no longer be the best fit for the employer. It may be best for both parties to move on to learn new skills, to meet new people, to grow in new unexpected ways. How are you contributing to life/community outside of the workplace? Serve on boards. I am currently on boards and serve in officer positions for the ViBe Creative District, as we

strive to establish a Creative Industries District in the Resort Area of the City of Virginia Beach to serve as a vibrant center for the arts, culture, technology and various creative industries. Create opportunities for Hampton Roads’ locals. I am the founder of ViBe Story Exchange, an ongoing community-engagement art project where we collect stories from all seven cities and people of all ages to be turned into art (a dance, a poem, a painting, a sculpture, music, etc.). Identify needs in the community and make an effort to address it. I created a partnership with Seton Youth Shelters and Todd Rosenlieb Dance to bring dance classes to children who have incarcerated parents in an attempt to help break generational incarceration. I work closely with the police departments of the seven cities to create community events that help educate the public on enforcement processes. I work with public school systems to identify holes in the education profile of Virginia students and help create plans for arts integration and implementation. What advice would you offer to other millennials or recent graduates about getting their careers to take off? First, know yourself! Put yourself in situations outside of your comfort zone. Second, learn what’s important to you, and stick to that! Prioritize your life based on what you want that design to look like. Say “yes” to opportunities that will support that design and get ready to work hard; say “no, but I can refer you to someone else” to every opportunity that doesn’t fit your life design or priorities. Thirdly, be kind, always. Be in the business of building people, organizations and cities up instead of burning bridges. Lastly, seek out mentors, and listen to everything they say. Change your approach when necessary. Respect history, but be open to newness. Communicate when you need help, and never, never give up—even when you’re tired (but rest when you need to).

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ALISA CRIDER, 28 PUBLIC RELATIONS AND SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR HAMPTON ROADS TRANSIT, NORFOLK

How do you see your generation (millennials)? How do you think older generations define millennials? Millennials are collaborative, innovative and adventurous and are the most informed generation due to greater access to research and education. We value brands that enhance our lives and stand for more than their bottom line. Staying connected through social media is not only extremely important to our wellbeing but can make a big impact in our decision making. The fact we are 2.5 times more likely to be early adopters of technology makes us highly influential to older generations. Baby boomers particularly look up to us as we reimagine traditional business models and are the biggest instigators to new market trends. We value our office culture and look up to our leaders for affirmation, which they typically respond well to. In what ways does having younger employees add to a company’s success? Millennials are out-of-the-box thinkers and not afraid to ask questions and take risks. We’re experts when it comes to learning new technologies and enjoy sharing our knowledge with others. A new era does demand a new way of thinking, and having a good representation of younger employees will make a company attractive and sustainable. Our diverse households and backgrounds allow us to bring wider perspectives that change the workforce. Empowering young employees will make them confident and able to focus on the areas where they can be most valuable. We value trust and transparency and succeed when our leaders invest in us and keep us engaged and challenged. What have been a few keys to your success so far? Building lasting relationships in the business community and taking advantage of educational resources have led me to great success. It really comes down to how well you make yourself known by those that can help you to get ahead and make a difference. Having a positive “can do” attitude and being inspired by good leaders has taken my career to the next level. What’s more important to you: net worth vs. a job you love? A job I love. The self-satisfaction that my time is well spent doing something that will make a difference is key to my happiness. When you enjoy your position, you are more likely to take on more challenging tasks, thus making a greater impact on society. Do you feel you are still refining/shaping what you want from your career? Yes. I believe you should never get too comfortable in your position. I strive to be a sponge and learn something new every day about my industry and field. Constantly setting career goals and tracking my successes continue to help improve that quality of what I do. Tell us about some of your favorite ways to do worthwhile networking. My favorite place to network is at tHRive’s Table for 10 events where nine young professionals from various industries and one business leader sit down for dinner. You never know whom you will meet and what that leader may say that will benefit your career path. If you have not attended one yet, I highly encourage it.

From her nomination: Anyone that has encountered Alisa knows that she is a driven young professional that walks with grace, humility and kindness. —Alejandro Medina, friend and fellow board member

How are you contributing to life/community outside of the workplace? I serve as a founder and board member of tHRive, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals program. As the vice-chair of branding I ensure that millennials have a voice in the direction of the region. I am responsible for many of the press releases, social media content and event promotion and strive to go above and beyond to make sure that the media, community leaders, young professionals and businesses are aware of what is going on in the region. I’ve developed a talent for connecting people together, which is one of the reasons tHRive has grown to over 1,300 members in its first year. What advice would you offer to other millennials or recent graduates about getting their careers to take off? Invest time and effort to perform your job to the best of your ability. Hone in your skills, and take advantage of the unlimited resources to self-educate. Secure several mentors both inside and outside your industry, and never be afraid to ask questions or propose out-of-thebox ideas. You never know when your innovative idea may alter the business culture or external success of your company.

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How do you see your generation (millennials)? How do you think older generations define millennials? I see millennials as a generation that thinks and lives globally, embracing new and innovative ways to do things and as a generation that thinks out of the box and challenges the status quo. I think older generations see us as a generation From his with a heavy emphasis on technology and nomination: Brad is social media. an ardent supporter of his hometown and works tirelessly In what ways does having younger to make Portsmouth an even betemployees add to a company’s ter place to live, work and raise success? a family. He is passionate about Having all generations in the workeducation and devotes his time force is important for the productivity of to helping young people. — the organization because it presents the Beth Prever, coworker opportunity for professional development. Millennials are learning from baby boomers and using their institutional knowledge to continue business growth, and other generations are learning from millennials’ use of social media as an effective and professional communication method and the efficiencies of flexible work schedules. What have been a few keys to your success so far? 1) Setting goals; plans are only dreams until you write them down. 2) Having work-life balance; I cannot bring my whole self to work unless I am taking care of myself physically and spiritually. 3) Follow through; I may not win all the time, but I always show up and stay until the work is done. What do you look for in a job/company? From my perspective, the ideal employer is one that values my skill set and challenges me to be the best version of myself. TowneBank has been a great place to work because the company is not afraid to take a chance on young talent and support their development. TowneBank understands that as the workforce advances, the company advances. What about your work culture can you attribute to your success? The work culture in the banking industry is all about relationships. All of my successes, personal and professional, can be attributed to the relationships I have made and maintained over many years. Authentic relationships create networks—networks of resources, networks of business partners, networks of knowledge. What’s more important to you: net worth vs. a job you love? At this time in my life, net worth is very important, but working a job that I enjoy is just as important. I have not yet met the midpoint in my career, so I am working hard to put in the most effort now so that I can enjoy life in the years to come. With that said, I would argue that it would be pretty difficult to be productive and financially successful putting time in unhappily employed. Do you feel you are still refining/shaping what you want from your career? I am still refining my career goals, and I hope that I am always redefining what I want from my career. Complacency is the enemy of success. Every year, I take a look at myself and take an inventory of what I know and what I don’t know. I think, “What is the next step forward?” Tell us about some of your favorite ways to do worthwhile networking. I take every opportunity to create or deepen relationships, but I actually do not think about specific methods to network. Networking is “work,” but having real conversations and finding commonalities is always worthwhile.

BRAD HUNTER, 34 ASSISTANT VICE PRESIDENT

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TOWNEBANK, PORTSMOUTH

How are you contributing to life/community outside of the workplace? I serve on several boards and commissions throughout the region and am active within my church. I have been fortunate to have been appointed to several leadership roles; and to whom much is given, much is required. Currently I am a Board of Visitors member at Christopher Newport University, a commissioner on the Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads (HRT), the Secretary of the Portsmouth Partnership, the Treasurer of the Portsmouth Museums Foundation and an active member of my church. I am quite busy (and as I itemize these responsibilities, I see how busy I am!), but I have the energy and have made the commitment. I am all in.

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How do you see your generation (millennials)? How do you think older generations define millennials? I think a defining trait of millennials is their constant innovation. My generation grew up in a technology era that showed us we can always find a better way to do something, and I’ve seen my peers take that mindset into the workplace. I hope older generations can see past the stereotypes and appreciate this generation’s potential for great change. In what ways does having younger employees add to a company’s success? Younger employees can be a catalyst for change and progress in a company. Millennials are notorious for challenging the status quo and can provide a fresh perspective in the workplace. Younger employees are also able to adapt quickly to new methods, tools and technology, which is invaluable to a company’s continued success and relevancy.

JULIA RUST, 27 ATTORNEY

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PIERCE/MCCOY, NORFOLK

my abilities and more confidently participate as a young professional in my industry and community. Do you feel you are still refining/shaping what you want from your career? Absolutely. I was very lucky to land my dream job right out of law school, but as I develop professionally, my career goals continue to develop as well. If I am not constantly refining and shaping what I want out of my career, then I’m missing opportunities and failing to make the most of my experiences. I love where my career is now, but I’m looking forward to where it will take me! Tell us about some of your favorite ways to do worthwhile networking. I’ve usually found that the most meaningful networking comes from oneon-one meetings. It is more of a time investment, but it gives you a chance to actually get to know a person and understand their work. Of course, I always enjoy group networking opportunities through tHRive, such as their happy hours, Table for 10 and IMPACT Talks. It is a great way to meet people in different industries that I wouldn’t have otherwise crossed paths with.

What have been a few keys to your success so far? Working hard, having great mentors and building relationships have been important in getting me to where I am today. I have two bosses at my firm who have poured a lot of time into mentoring me through my first few How are you contributyears of practice, allowing ing to life/community From her nomime to develop my focus outside of the worknation: Working in a on business litigation. place? boutique law firm that specialTheir guidance and For over a year izes in corporate law, Julia has the encouragement has I have served as unique opportunity to engage with a been instrumental Chair of tHRive, variety of local small businesses by help- the young in my growth as an ing build and protect their companies. attorney. They’ve professionals As Pierce McCoy is very engaged in the also given me the program of the startup community, she has been able flexibility to spend Hampton Roads to develop many relationships with time developing my Chamber of small local businesses and meet own network and Commerce. Over their corporate legal needs. — building strong profesthe last year, I’ve Gabe McCoy, colleague sional relationships. worked with tHRive’s Something else I focus leadership team to on is maintaining a work/life ballaunch and grow a regional ance so I can avoid burnout and the toll young professionals program that that it takes on my professional growth. I now serves over 1,300 members. tHRive work really hard, and I can’t always avoid engages millennials with their comlate nights at the office, but I also make munity, local business leaders and one sure I get home to have dinner with my another. By keeping young professionhusband as often as I can, I try to always als engaged and giving them a voice, get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, and I try our region can better attract and retain not to check my email on weekends so the best talent. I’ve loved working with that I come in on Monday refreshed and tHRive to facilitate those opportunities ready to hit the ground running. and resources for our region’s young professionals. What about your work culture can you attribute to your success? What advice would you offer to I feel very lucky to have landed at other millennials or recent graduates Pierce McCoy precisely because of the about getting their careers to culture the partners have focused on take off? developing there. First, my firm encourGet engaged in your community, ages innovation in an industry that has develop your relationships, and lend a played by the same rules for generations. hand whenever you can. Every job is That has pushed me to think outside the dependent on positive working relationbox for creative problem-solving both in ships, whether they are customers, and out of the office. Second, the partcolleagues or both. By connecting with ners have enabled me to take control of your colleagues and peers, you develop a my own client relationships and litigation network of people who will support you, strategies. Most young attorneys aren’t send you business and lend a hand in given those opportunities so early, but it return when needed. Also, always work has allowed me to more quickly develop your hardest (but that’s a given!).

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How do you see your generation (millennials)? How do you think older generations define millennials? I think my generation is an incredibly curious and fast-paced one. We like to know the “why” and “how” of our work and, whether good or bad, we tend to get impatient with monotony in the workplace.

RUSSELL LYONS, 26 ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS

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COASTAL HOSPITALITY

ASSOCIATES, LLC, VIRGINIA BEACH

In what ways does having younger employees add to a company’s success? Younger employees can provide a lot of outward enthusiasm and passion to the workplace and aren’t afraid to openly question the status quo. As well, the older “boomer” generation and younger millennials match up very well with their typical strengths and weaknesses and can make a big impact in the workplace if they actively embrace collaboration. What have been a few keys to your success so far? First and foremost, I believe in being completely honest in all that you do and say professionally. Business (and life) is much easier when you don’t need to make up stories or excuses. Also, being engaged in From his nomiyour local business community nation: Russell works is essential. When you actively tirelessly in a behind-theobserve how others in your scenes, quiet and selfless fashion industry and community do to raise awareness of all things great business, it allows you to about living, working and playing in develop fresh ideas for your Virginia Beach. Driven and caring, workplace. he wants the best for his employees and our community in which we What do you look for in a all live and work.—Micki Knott, job/company? colleague and coworker The most important things to me in a company are that it has great people, embraces an entrepreneurial mindset and rewards success appropriately. What about your work culture can you attribute to your success? We actively embrace a culture of open and honest feedback throughout the company. We believe that everyone needs to know how they are performing and what they can be doing to make themselves more successful going forward. As well, everyone in our company has a great sense of humor … you can’t survive in the hospitality industry without having a good laugh about some of the crazy things that happen. Do you feel you are still refining/shaping what you want from your career? I think I will still be refining what I want from my career when I’m 76, much less 26. How are you contributing to life/community outside of the workplace? Outside the workplace, I love being involved in efforts and organizations that make my industry and/or Virginia Beach a better place. Most of my involvement centers on the Virginia Beach Hotel Association and associated efforts that promote tourism in our area. What advice would you offer to other millennials or recent graduates about getting their careers to take off? Never think that there is a job too small for you. People appreciate hard work and those willing to help in any way to get the job done. In the world of hospitality, sometimes even the boss has to wash dishes.

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BLAKE R. CHRISTOPHER, 26 ATTORNEY

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VANDEVENTER BLACK LLP, NORFOLK

How do you see your generation (millennials)? How do you think older generations define millennials? Ours is an innovative and socially-driven generation. We thrive on connectivity, maintaining deep relationships with others and our communities, in large part thanks to technology that we helped generate. This desire for connectivity is often misunderstood as a lack of independence, which is an opinion I find misplaced. In what ways does having younger employees add to a company’s From his success? nomination: Blake is We are constantly seeking new constantly seeking ways to and improved ways of doing busimake law accessible and meanness and maintaining relationships. ingful to everyday individuals, and Younger employees are more he gives them the same attention he likely than others to reject “the would a Fortune 500 client. In short, status quo” as self-sufficient reaBlake is as dedicated and driven soning, leading to more effective for his neighbors and his commuand more profitable companies. nity as he is for himself and his career. —Cristen Fletcher, What have been a few keys to coworker your success so far? Find and listen to mentors. The men and women who came before us have a great deal of knowledge to share, if we are willing to seek it. Never stop learning. Read often, and study and duplicate the actions of those you find successful. What do you look for in a job/company? My father once told me that a job is 50 percent what you do and 50 percent for whom you do it. With that in mind, I look for companies with strong and hospitable leadership, like Vandeventer Black. What’s more important to you: net worth vs. a job you love? My goal is to seek the latter and find the former in the process. Do you feel you are still refining/shaping what you want from your career? Absolutely, and I expect my career desires will continue to change over time. Luckily, I work for a fairly large and flexible firm, one that works with me to fulfill any and all career desires. Tell us about some of your favorite ways to do worthwhile networking. William & Mary Law School taught me that it’s better to include networking in everyday life than to relegate it to a specific time/place. For instance, I enjoy movies, beaches, food and all sorts of sports. Instead of enjoying these activities by myself, I make it a point to include friends and potential clients alike. The approach fosters genuineness and avoids most of networking’s awkwardness. How are you contributing to life/community outside of the workplace? Earlier this summer, Vandeventer Black and I spearheaded the inaugural Maritime Masters at Virginia Beach Top Golf. The event, sponsored by key maritime and ship repair companies, raised nearly $20,000 for the American Heart and Stroke Association. Additionally, I volunteer with my Virginia Beach church and serve on the boards of several local committees and organizations, including my homeowners’ association. What advice would you offer to other millennials or recent graduates about getting their careers to take off? Work hard and treat people well, for those are rare and sought-after attributes.

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GABRIELLE BRIGGS, CPA, 27 SENIOR ASSURANCE ASSOCIATE DIXON HUGHES GOODMAN LLP, VIRGINIA BEACH

How do you see your generation (millennials)? How do you think older generations define millennials? I see millennials as the future, which has been true of all other generations before us; we are living in another generation’s future right now. More specifically, I see us as the tech generation and am excited to see what advances the best and brightest of our generation has in store for us. However, this has led some millennials to become far too connected to the world of social media than the world happening all around them. On the other end of the spectrum are those looking to disconnect and to have more experiences than physical things. I also feel like this is the generation of quality vs. quantity. There seems to be a much bigger focus on companies and brands that either have a much higher quality product or that support a noteworthy cause or both; whichever it is, millennials are willing to spend a little more money on these items. In what ways does having younger employees add to a company’s success? The benefits of having younger employees are innumerable! I stay in contact with a couple of my old professors from ODU and visit them at least a few times a year. They update me on new projects and curriculums that they have going on, and it is just amazing how much more advanced and in-depth the classes have become in just the two short years since I graduated. The high-level techniques some of these students are learning are just awe-inspiring! This younger generation is just what employers need to bring their companies to the next level and create efficiencies they could have never imagined! What do you look for in a job/company? I really want to be able to enjoy what I am doing every day I go to work. Having a great culture made up of top notch coworkers is really important to me. Accounting can be super serious and stressful at times, so having peers that can help lighten the mood and not live up to the boring accountant stereotype is a must! A company that values me as a person and not just another metric. Being able to see the effects of my work which can take many forms; in my case it can be getting a deliverable to a client who is facing a lot of pressure from external forces to getting positive feedback from a satisfied client. What’s more important to you: net worth vs. a job you love? Definitely a job I love! There is no amount of money you could pay me to do something I didn’t enjoy. This is going to sound cliché, but as I get older I see more and more loss, and it really makes me realize how truly precious my time is. If I am not loving what I am doing, then it really isn’t worth my time, which is more valuable than any amount of money. Do you feel you are still refining/shaping what you want from your career? Absolutely! I feel as I move into different chapters of my life what I want from my career will definitely change. Even in the past five years, what I have wanted in a career has changed. The only thing I will always want from my career is to learn; I want to be learning every day. Otherwise, I am not growing as a professional or a person. Tell us about some of your favorite ways to do worthwhile networking. Really just be yourself. I still struggle with getting anxious when I am in large groups of people and when I am meeting new people, but I force myself to do it. The more events you attend the easier it will be to start up conversations with random strangers. Try finding some common ground, talk about your interests outside of your career, and ask about theirs. You can meet some really interesting people with some fascinating hobbies out there.

From her nomination: Recognizing her talent and work ethic, managers and partners assigned Gabby some of the most significant audit and review engagements in the office. Gabby willing accepted the responsibility and continues to seek out new and challenging assignments, which have contributed to her rapid growth and success at the firm. —Daryll Stephenson, supervising senior manager

How are you contributing to life/community outside of the workplace? Care by Community, CBC, in Virginia Beach provides a safe and fun afterschool environment for children deemed homeless by the city. When I worked there, they had an angel tree at the church, which is completely generous and amazing, but I wanted to make sure that each child gets more than one gift each year. About five years ago, I started my own branch of the tree with hopes of getting the children a couple more gifts and some coats and shoes to keep them warm in the winter. With the help of family and friends, my vision became a reality! My heart was so full when the director of the program told me that this is the most gifts they had ever received after just the first year. I am amazed and overjoyed every year by the generosity displayed on these children by complete strangers. What advice would you offer to other millennials or recent graduates about getting their careers to take off? If you are still in college, really take advantage of resources at your school and get involved. Get out there and network. You will be seeing and interacting with those same professionals throughout your entire career; why not start building relationships now? Also—internships. If you are in college and you haven’t had one yet, you need to get one. There is no way you can make an informed decision on a career without one.

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How do you see your generation (millennials)? How do you think older generations define millennials? I see millennials as innovative, forward thinkers and doers. We’re fortunate to have grown up in the digital age where I think a sense of confidence in technology was instilled in each of us. I think millennials care about their community and thrive in diverse, high-energy environments. Sometimes millennials get a bad reputation and can be perceived by older generations as being entitled or narcissistic; however just as we can’t classify all millennials as having the same positive traits, we can’t classify them as all having the same negative traits. I think it’s about how an individual was raised, along with their innate character. I was fortunate enough to have parents who taught me the importance of hard work, education, loyalty and kindness to others.

portive work environment can make all the difference.

In what ways does having younger employees add to a company’s success? Younger employees can add a different perspective to a company. We tend to be eager to learn and find a solution to a problem and don’t like to accept “that’s not possible” as an answer. Just as older employees can teach younger employees the ropes, younger employees oftentimes teach more seasoned employees as well. Millennials can be a breath of fresh air for some companies, coming in with new, innovative ideas that perhaps may not have even been considered.

What’s more important to you: net worth vs. a job you love? Loving my job is more important than net worth, and if you can find both, then you’ve hit the jackpot. When I’m doing what I love, there’s a passion and drive from within that can be so satisfying, it’s addicting.

What have been a few keys to your success so far? Surrounding myself with supportive family, friends and coworkers who have the same core values and share a similar vision of success is essential. For example, my dad, even after retirement, decided he wanted to play an active role in the community and dedicates a significant amount of his time to serving as the president of The Town Center Kiwanis Club, whose concentration is community service, fundraising and assisting with “children-focused” organizations. The president of our company values giving back to the community and praises philanthropic efforts within and outside our agency. This outlook on community service has inspired our entire team at Reed and Associates and continues to motivate us to get involved. Both have been powerful role models and keys to my success.

ALLISON MANTZ, 32 ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE

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REED AND ASSOCIATES

MARKETING, NORFOLK

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What about your work culture can you attribute to your success? Our work culture is centered around community in more ways than one. We have our internal office community where we operate like a family, supporting each other’s professional and personal goals. As an organization, we take pride in giving back to the community. Whether we’re collecting food and toys for shelter pets, volunteering at the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore or raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, this culture of service fuels my desire to want to do more. At Reed and Associates Marketing, we have a healthy work-life balance but also a competitive spirit where we all strive to be the best in our industry.

Tell us about some of your favorite ways to do worthwhile networking. One of my favorite ways to network is through volunteering in the community. I find that oftentimes other volunteers have similar goals and interests, which can lead to foundationally strong relationships. There’s so much going on in Hampton Roads that simply getting out and being an active member in the community, supporting local businesses, etc. can be an easy and fun way to network. How are you contributing to life/community outside of the workplace? I’ve been a member of the Junior League since 2012; I transferred from Washington, D.C. to Virginia Beach-Norfolk, and it’s been rewarding to be part of an organization whose mission is to promote volunteerism, develop the potential of women and improve communities. This past spring, my fiancé organized a team in Virginia Beach for Cycle for Survival, a national movement to beat rare cancers. In support of my fiancé who was diagnosed with a rare, yet fortunately, treatable cancer, I joined his team to help raise awareness and fundraise.

What advice would you offer From her What do you look for in to other millennials or nomination: Allison’s a job/company? recent graduates about passion for helping clients I admire a company getting their careers to reach their business goals is that strives to be the take off? unsurpassed. She works dilibest in their industry Get involved in somegently to ensure that the team is and arms its employees thing, whether it’s within not just meeting, but exceeding, with the necessary tools your company, alma mater expectations to drive results to be successful. I look or your community. You for her clients. for a company that values never know what you’ll —Gillian Luce, the strengths of each team learn or what path it can take co-worker member and finds different you on. Take risks, learn from avenues to further develop indiyour peers, and if you’re presented vidual skills and talent. A company that with an opportunity, take it. This is the time challenges its employees to go outside their in your life where you can try new things comfort zone and supports new, forward and decide what you want out of a career. thinking ideas will stay ahead of the curve. I Be honest with yourself about what you think most would agree that a positive, supwant, and don’t settle for mediocrity.

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How do you see your generation (millennials)? How do you think older generations define millennials? While I typically shun labels because I believe they often limit people, I embrace being a millennial. To me, millennials have the greatest opportunity to impact our community for generations to come. There is power in numbers, and let’s face it: we make up the largest population on the planet. Innovation to me is being catalysts of change, and that’s how I see my generation. We are socially conscious. We question why things are the way they are, and we have a natural desire to leave things better than we found them. I’ve heard some negatively describe us as entitled and lazy. That doesn’t bother me since I’m sure we can find members of our community from each generation that fits into that category. Ultimately, we are the sons and daughters of those who came before us. For better or for worse, our values have been shaped by their actions. In what ways does having younger employees add to a company’s success? People are the greatest asset of any organization. Companies with a multigenerational workforce have an opportunity to be the epicenter of collaboration. Millennials are the most educated generation on paper. Generations before us, including baby boomers and Gen Xers, have knowledge one only learns from real-life experiences. Companies that are successful realize that there is value in what each generation brings to the table. Innovation occurs when experience and education collide; that in itself is a beautiful thing.

What about your work culture can you attribute to your success? I’d have to say trust may be the greatest attribute of our company culture at Virginia Natural Gas. Each day my teammates and I feel empowered by our leaders to do what they’ve hired us to do. They believe in us, and that, to me, is priceless.

DONALD KNIGHT II, 30 HEAD OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT VIRGINIA NATURAL GAS, VIRGINIA BEACH

What’s more important to you: net worth vs. a job you love? In the ideal world I’d like to have both net worth and a love for what I do. If forced to choose between the two, for me, net worth outweighs having a job you love. If you’ve amassed wealth, then you’re probably good at what you do. Wealth positions folks to spend more time with family. Wealth normally leads to influence and creates opportunities to positively impact the community through private-public partnerships. Whether I love what I do or not becomes less important when I’m able to do those things. Tell us about some of your favorite ways to do worthwhile networking. My favorite networking opportunities include serving on community boards and a weekly men’s Bible study I joined a few months ago. My parents instilled in my brothers and me the importance of service before self. In many ways, giving back while staying true to my faith-based principles has been the best avenues for me to find like-minded people in the business community.

How are you contributing to life/community outside of the workplace? I am a strong proponent of servant leadership. For those reasons I’m intentional in my efforts to give back. I’m both What have been a few From his nomination: excited and humbled keys to your success Donald has helped Virginia to be serving on sevso far? Natural Gas grow its business dureral boards within I believe there ing the last three years to new heights the Hampton Roads is wisdom in the (290,000 customers). His most significommunity. My abundance of cant achievement, however, is helping favorites are the counsel. My sucVirginia Natural Gas and its primary Hampton Roads cess is a direct product, natural gas, play a greater Sports Commission, illustration of role in the region’s energy dialogue. Tidewater Builders those who have —Kristopher Russell, colleague Association and mentored me along through civic organization tHRive. Each has a the way. My mentors involvement unique mission that and I share a common impacts our community. belief in faith, family and I don’t take the privilege to business. Learning from their serve in any capacity lightly. experiences has allowed me to navigate my career from a humble yet intenWhat advice would you offer tional manner. But not for their sacrito other millennials or recent fices and continued deposits of wisdom, graduates about getting their I would not be the man I am today. careers to take off? Stay humble, ask for help, and always What do you look for in a job/ say thank you. Believe it or not, there company? are a lot of successful people in the I like companies that show me they world ready and willing to share their C.A.R.E. meaning they offer me culture, experiences with you. Make time to autonomy, retention and engagement. contact those who have been where you Company culture is by far the most are trying to go. Say thank you, and be important factor I weigh when considerwilling to do the same for others. ing career opportunities. For me, it is difficult to remain engaged when the environment or culture is lacking.

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STEPHANIE HEINATZ, 35 FOUNDER AND CEO

How do you see your generation (millennials)? How do you think older generations define millennials? I think our generations are a lot more similar than most of us give each other credit for. What I see in the colleagues and fellow millennials around me are hardworking, life loving, family growing sorts of folks who genuinely want to do a good job for the people they work for and the families who depend on them. Sure, we have different approaches to getting to that end goal. But it’s the same goal in the end.

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CONSOCIATE MEDIA, GLOUCESTER POINT

embedded reporter in Kuwait and Iraq? He supported me. Head to Ethiopia and hike through the rural highlands to get a story? He bought a ticket and came with me. Get in deep with a criminal gang in Hampton Roads? He stayed up next to the phone just in case. Quit my job to start a PR firm? He was the first to review my resignation letter. What do you look for in a job/company? Change. The ability to bring about real, meaningful change. Every company we work for and take on as a client is put through a filter. Are they good people? Are they making positive changes in the world? Can we be part of that?

In what ways does having younger employees add to a company’s success? With age comes different perFrom her nominaWhat’s more important to you: spectives, experiences and ideas. tion: Stephanie is a rare net worth vs. a job you love? In today’s world, we talk a lot combination of vision, Neither. I’m working to create a about diversity. Race. Sex. Sexual smarts, savviness and an life I love. Nearly four years ago, my orientation. But age is a part of engaging personality. The husband resigned from his executivediversity, too. Having young people world needs more people like level position (and he was the primary as part of any company is vital Stephanie. —Matt Sabo, breadwinner of our family at the time) because it brings in another level of friend/employee to help lead the operations of and grow diversity needed to make up the most Consociate Media, our PR and marketrobust and creative teams possible. ing firm. That meant we bootstrapped our lives in the hopes of creating the company—and What have been a few keys to your jobs—we loved. We wanted a company where we success so far? were comfortable in our lives but that was also fulfillWhat’s next? It’s the question I ask myself each day. ing and allowed us to be the parents we dreamed of Sometimes it’s specifically related to a task I need to becoming (I plan to be a Room Mom for my son this complete or a deliverable due to a client. But more year!), volunteers in our community and voracious often than not, it’s the curiosity and drive to want to lovers of life (traveling, reading, exploring). We work take on the next challenge, to stretch and grow. hard, and that’s OK. Not every day is easy. But some Also, family. Early on in my career as a newspaper days are extremely fulfilling at work. Others fulfilling reporter—time that was vital to the foundation I built at home. And that balance—that life we love—is what our business on—my husband supported me unwaverwe were working toward. ingly with every assignment, every story. Report as an 50

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Do you feel you are still refining/shaping what you want from your career? Every chapter in the story of my career builds on the last. Before founding Consociate Media, I went from newspaper reporter to military media trainer to strategic communications consultant to private company communications director. Each step, each stage, built off the last. The business I am in today—public relations and marketing—is changing daily, which means we have to change with it. Those changes, working with new companies and telling stories across new mediums, will be how I continue to refine and shape my career in years to come. Tell us about some of your favorite ways to do worthwhile networking. Bar none, the best and more worthwhile way to network is to do community service. And I’m not talking about the community service you do because you expect to get something out of it. I’m talking about the community service you do because the mission speaks to your heart. Our very, very first client came to us because of a relationship I had forged with her years before while we served on the Board of Directors for the Gloucester Community Foundation. Some of our very best clients today have come to us because of work we did for causes they were involved with. And truth be told, some of my closest colleagues and friends have developed out of doing good works together. Give first. Give often. That’s always been our mantra. It’s not always the best for the bottom line, but life has a way of paying things forward. What advice would you offer to other millennials or recent graduates about getting their careers to take off? Hone your writing skills. Read voraciously. Foster your sense of curiosity. Admittedly, these were all lessons I learned very early on as a cub reporter at the Daily Press on the Virginia Peninsula. But I truly believe they’ve served me well. When it comes to presenting yourself, telling your story, you need to know how to communicate it through words and actions. You need to be able to speak with people, write to them and engage them. Writing, reading and being curious enough to write and read some more are skills that not only never go out of style no matter what the generation, but are also key to moving ahead.

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MICHAEL KIMBALL, 29 VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING

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THE WILLIAMSBURG

WINERY, WILLIAMSBURG

How do you see your generation (millennials)? How do you think older generations define millennials? Millennials are often misunderstood. We’ve been described as entitled, selfish and self-absorbed by older generations. I see it in the opposite way. I feel that millennials, as a generation, fully realize the power and influence they can have over others and the ability each individual has to impact the world on a macro level through social media and social networking. As a result of this realized self-belief and perceived power, our generation is less concerned about tradition and is willing to challenge the status quo. Millennials are self-aware and socially and environmentally responsible; we recognize the impact our actions and decisions have on the world. We demand authenticity and transparency. In what ways does having younger employees add to a company’s success? I think that millennials add a different dimension to the traditional corporate structure. Millennials tend to align themselves with socially responsible organizations and can play a vital role in enhancing a company’s environmental and social programs/policies. Typically, millennials are not scared to fail and often seek a better way of doing something. We are eager, determined and relish in the struggle of proving ourselves worthy and proving ourselves right. Millennials tend to be impatient and expect results quickly, yet are willing to work for it.

From his nomination: Many characteristics set Michael apart from his peers in the wine marketing industry. Most notably is Michael’s true graciousness and willingness to share his time to support the entire industry, coupled with his tireless work ethic. —Frank Morgan, wine blogger, Drink What YOU Like

What have been a few keys to your success so results? I’ve put more stock and focus on my EQ (emotional intelligence) over my IQ. My relationships with colleagues, friends and customers are the key to my success. Disingenuous marketing tactics may work in the short-term, but as a society we demand authenticity and transparency. By listening to and genuinely caring about our customers, I’ve been able to create certain events, programs and campaigns that are in line with their core values, interests, needs and desires and have reaped positive results for the winery. I’m in the people business, and it’s all about relationships. One of the biggest keys to my success was working at every level within the company prior to assuming my role as vice president of marketing. I literally went from cleaning toilets and giving tours to marketing director in two years. I volunteered to work every possible job at the winery to learn and to make some extra money. In doing so, I saw how people reacted to the brand, what they liked, didn’t like and what they needed and weren’t getting. This helped shape my approach to marketing and my communication strategies going forward. What do you look for in a job/ company? I look for a company that supports and encourages freedom of expression and harbors a culture of creativity. It’s essential that a company has a positive corporate culture.

What about your work culture can you attribute to your success? Trust. When you are trusted and empowered to make decisions, you can perform your job duties at an optimum level. I have been empowered to think creatively and to take calculated risks. Without that we never would have started certain programs like Uncorked and Unplugged or Wine Wednesdays with 94.9 The Point. What’s more important to you: net worth vs. a job you love? This is probably my most “millennial” answer, but it has to be a job you love. We do only live once after all (YOLO if we’re being precise), and being happy and having a great quality of life is of the utmost importance. If you really think about it, we spend over 30 percent of our lives at work and another 30 percent asleep, so if you’re going to invest that much time and energy into something it better make you happy! Do you feel you are still refining/ shaping what you want from your career? Yes. At this point in my career I’ve discovered what I’m good at, and I think that’s important. We can all tend to spend too much time focusing on our weaknesses instead of celebrating what we do best and what comes naturally. That’s not to say you shouldn’t continue to learn and grow, but we’re given such a short window in this game of life, so why not just be really good at what you’re good at and love to do? For me, my career and my personal life have to gel. My work is my passion, and therefore it needs to be something I’m passionate about. When all is said and done, what I want most from my career is for my kids to be proud of their dad. I feel like if I can provide for my family, be there for my family and be a good role model, then I’ll feel like I’ve won. Tell us about some of your favorite ways to do worthwhile networking. The best way to network is at events or gatherings in which people don’t feel like they have to network. Some of the most important business-related relationships I’ve nurtured began at a concert, a sporting event or a wine tasting—all events where people were truly being themselves with no pretense or pressure to be a certain way. What advice would you offer to other millennials or recent graduates about getting their careers to take off? Take chances, and bet on yourself. I wouldn’t get caught up in finding “the perfect job” right after graduation. Take advantage of the three–five-year window after college to attack life and go after your dreams. Don’t settle or be too concerned about making tons of money right away. Relentlessly pursue your passions, and create the job/life you’ve always wanted. Some of your friends may win the short-term game, but be concerned about the long term.

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JANELLE BURCHFIELD, 32 DIRECTOR OF MARKETING & COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT PENINSULA FINE ARTS CENTER, NEWPORT NEWS

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How do you see your generation (millennials)? How do you think older generations define millennials? I see millennials as really hungry and thirsty for opportunity. In my experience, we work hard, know what we want and aren’t afraid to go after it. I’ve heard and read some negative things about the way older generations define millennials, but I also think we have to give credit where credit is due. I can attribute much of my growth and success to someone older taking a chance on me or believing that I could do something and then making sure I had the right tools to be successful. If I hadn’t had those people take me under their wing, there’s no way I’d have been able to gain the experience necFrom her essary to land in my selected career path nomination: Janelle is or work at a director level for the past an excellent team member and several years. group leader, highly respected by her friends, peers and mentors and is In what ways does having younger always willing to lend a hand or take the employees add to a company’s lead, respecting everyone’s work style and success? opinions. She has done great work menIn my field of work, I can absolutetoring and motivating other women and ly see how having younger employees younger professionals in aspects of arts with fresh approaches is very impormanagement and marketing and also in tant. Being up-to-date on current and being a strong female leader among ever-changing trends, especially in marher peers. —Patrick Mullins, forketing and communications, is imperative mer coworker, friend and to the success of a company. business partner What do you look for in a job/company? Flexibility and effective leadership; leaders within the organization who manage in a way that I look up to and can learn from. What about your work culture can you attribute to your success? I’ve been pretty fortunate, especially while working in the arts, to have landed in some very supportive environments with directors who are willing to try and test new things, gather info and then make it bigger and better the next go ’round. What’s more important to you: net worth vs. a job you love? I’ve absolutely taken less money to work for a job that I love, especially if I can see how it would benefit me long-term. Experience gained is invaluable. Do you feel you are still refining/shaping what you want from your career? I better be! I sure I hope I haven’t peaked or figured it all out at age 32. I hope to always be growing and seizing opportunities for growth. If I’m not, it’s time to move over and get out! Tell us about some of your favorite ways to do worthwhile networking. I’ve been pretty successful Facebook messaging or emailing strangers that are killing it in their careers and receiving replies. It’s been an interesting way to network and bounce ideas off of people. I’m also a big fan of going to events solo. It’s a great way to meet new people with similar fields of interest and do some relationship building. Forget the plus-one; I’ve got work to do! How are you contributing to life/community outside of the workplace? I’m currently serving as the Projects Chair and a member of the Steering Committee for the Downtown 100, part of the Downtown Norfolk Council. In my role there, I seek out and manage volunteer opportunities that directly impact Downtown Norfolk and its current and future residents. I’m also an active member of the Young Associates Board at the Hermitage Museum and Gardens. One of my favorite projects has been working with the ODU Women’s Center on a festival-style awareness campaign and event in conjunction with ODU’s “It’s On Us” initiative, committed to keeping young men and women safe from sexual assault on their campus and in our community. Earlier this year, I became a founding member of the Silent Mile, a grassroots effort in Norfolk promoting ally advocacy, police accountability and defending the right to due process and equal protection under the law. It’s work that I’m very passionate about. I truly believe a small group of people can work together to make a difference in our community, and for me, the Silent Mile was such an encouraging example of that. What advice would you offer to other millennials or recent graduates about getting their careers to take off? “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Choose something you love, and throw yourself into it. Never stop learning. Surround yourself with people who are motivated and exceptional at what they do, and soak it all up.

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ERIC HAUSER, 35 DIRECTOR OF MARKETING

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IVIE AND ASSOCIATES, ON

CONTRACT WITH FARM FRESH, NORFOLK/VIRGINIA BEACH

How do you see your generation (millennials)? How do you think older generations define millennials? Being on the older end of the millennial generation, I’ll speak more to that perspective. Millennials grew up in a time of rapid change and increasing connectivity. Starting in our early years, we have always been able to connect with each other. Initially, it was via landlines, our own personal ones if we were lucky, or chat rooms over dialup connections. This instant communication defined us as we moved into the workforce. We demand quick responses and immediate access to information. These traits are now reshaping the workplace. As millennials rise to the higher levels of management, our values and expectations will become the norm. Millennials are a generation marked by an expectation of quickness and an intolerance of excuses. As with every younger generation, the older ones tend to stereotype based on the lowest common denominator. I don’t believe this is done in malice but rather an easier way to attribute qualities without knowing enough individuals in the generation and their merits. Every generation has its lazy, destructive or self-absorbed components. The millennials in some ways are more pronounced due to the speed and efficiency of modern communication. This is the first generation where our youthful indiscretions have been recorded for all to see. As the generation ages, the positive traits will become more noticeable as we all grow into our careers and families. In what ways does having younger employees add to a company’s success? Young employees are beneficial to a company in so many ways. As a manager myself, I value having team members of all ages. Having an authentic voice of a younger person is invaluable when designing messaging for that audience. The energy of a youthful person can be contagious. The excitement for a job or a project that might have dulled in yourself can be reignited when working with someone who still sees the opportunity. I’m sure that someone brighter than me has said that it’s easier to train someone correctly from scratch than to retrain bad habits, but if not, quote me here. I might just be an optimistic person who looks at the bright side of most situations, but having younger employees is not only beneficial, but necessary. 54

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What have been a few keys to your success so far? My success to this point has been helped immensely by listening to those around me and making sure to keep every door open. I’ve always believed in myself and my abilities and projected a confidence, but I still keep an open mind and listen for better ideas no matter who they come from. I’ve gotten great management strategy ideas from 16-year-old, part-time employees and marketing slogans for teenagers from 60-year-old colleagues. No matter the person, I always strive to listen to their ideas. The business world is built on relationships, and you never know how the future will play out. Your next reference could come, not from your reference sheet, but from a contact of the hiring manager. The time I’ve spent talking with colleagues has helped to foster friendships and partnerships that continue to pay dividends. These relationships have helped me become a better person and employee.

while being open and engaged with my coworkers, management and staff.

What do you look for in a job/company? When evaluating a company for possible employment I’m looking for a solid vision for the future of the company, a dedication to the staff and a commitment to growing from within. No one wants to be in a stagnant work environment. I look for a company that knows where it wants to go and is willing to commit to its staff by trusting them to drive the change. I’ve left companies when they became adynamic in favor of organizations that show their desire to stretch. And more than just the desire to expand, but the desire to grow from within. I’m a strong believer in organic growth from within. A company’s own employees know the true culture and values that truly set it apart. Growth based on these values is what can keep the company true to itself.

How are you contributing to life/community outside of the workplace? I’m very lucky to work with two companies that value community engagement and to have the opportunity to participate with several excellent, local nonprofits. Farm Fresh is dedicated to being a community partner, and I am on the front line of driving our commitment to community. From working with the local food banks, facilitating back to school supply drives, engaging with CHKD on our Round Up campaign and partnering with the USO to give back to the military, Farm Fresh allows me ample opportunity for community involvement.

What about your work culture can you attribute to your success? In every work environment I’ve aimed to institute a culture of fun. Work doesn’t have to be sterile. I’ve always believed that a culture of fun drives success. It allows the staff to open up and be themselves. When a person is open, they are willing to try new things and push the envelope leading to novel and innovative concepts. My success comes from trying new ideas and collaborating with coworkers. The only way I’ve felt comfortable doing this was by enjoying myself at work

What’s more important to you: net worth vs. a job you love? Moderation is always the key. I’ve been lucky to experience both positions. The net worth was great for a while, but on the other hand, I enjoyed working the job I loved. But neither, in their own right, were the right job for me. The job that I loved was fun at the moment but not as rewarding for the long term. Having a job that pays well and has all the benefits is great, assuming there isn’t too much of a tradeoff like lengthy hours or a hellish boss. I’ve discovered being able to enjoy my days in the office makes the time off that much better as I’m not spending it recovering. Finding the right balance of a rewarding job and a rewarding paycheck is the holy grail.

What advice would you offer to other millennials or recent graduates about getting their careers to take off? Don’t be afraid to work ahead of your job or above your pay grade. Make the job you have into the job you want (but not at the expense of your current role). Devote the time and energy needed to perfect your current position, allowing you to build upon it. Ask questions, and dedicate yourself to continually learning. Ignore the daily distractions of social media, and use your time wisely.

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MARCUS A. CALABRESE, 31 CEO

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IMAGE CAPITAL GROUP, VIRGINIA BEACH In what ways does having younger employees add to a company’s success? Youth brings a lot of inexperience, which can have a huge benefit because they don’t expect the word “No”. So they push the boundaries and explore more. They’re not as timid or traditional, and their ideas are often better. What have been a few keys to your success so far? Are you ready for this? Getting fired a few times. Not laid off ... fired. Once from a major newspaper, which has now published the majority of my clients. One former employer fired me after being appointed to a major board. They later became a client, a few times actually, and a fellow board member. What do you look for in a job/company? The need for improvement and how I can do it. What about your work culture can you attribute to your success? I work alone, which has its pros and cons. But it forces me to get things done. What’s more important to you: net worth vs. a job you love? Neither. I’m in it for the influence and the progress.

From his nomination: Marcus is a self-driven entrepreneur that has broken into the PR industry and found a way to provide smaller businesses, nonprofits and community leaders with media coverage that they would not have been able to afford through traditional means.—Glenn Davis, friend and prior client

Do you feel you are still refining/shaping what you want from your career? Absolutely. There is so much ground to cover. PR is innovative and ever-changing. Tell us about some of your favorite ways to do worthwhile networking. I find the best form of networking to be while I am with other clients. It is quite a challenge to explain to people what I do— until they see it. How are you contributing to life/ community outside of the workplace? I’ve sat on several boards; right now I am loving being part of the board at Susan G. Komen. I also get my clients involved in the community and create change through them. Ethereal Cupcakes, ARDX, Councilwoman Shannon Kane and Cox 11 are some of the ones I’ve had the greatest impact through. What advice would you offer to other millennials or recent graduates about getting their careers to take off? I have asked several millionaires tons of questions, and one phrase comes up the most: “When I was 12 ...” find what you loved at 12, and hone in on that. At the age of 12, I wrote my first speech and presented it before the school. Today, I write press releases, talking points and articles and present to larger audiences but through clients. This works for me because I never wanted to give that speech myself anyway; I wanted someone else to do it. Find what you loved at 12, and get to work—but have fun.

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LAUREN BLAND, 30 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

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HAMPTON ROADS SPORTS

COMMISSION, NORFOLK

From her nomination: Lauren is one of the hardest working individuals I know. She understands what it takes to be successful but continues to stay grounded. She has the spirit of a millennial but the wisdom of a mature business leader. She sets aside time to give back to the community and consistently leads by example. She is a dynamic leader who doesn’t shy away from making huge impacts. —Mallory Taylor, friend/ tHRive committee chair

How do you see your generation (millennials)? How do you think older generations define millennials? I think millennials are survivors. We are the first generation that may not be better off than our parents. We will have to learn how to survive on our own without pensions, potential social security or guaranteed retirement. Millennials care about the environment, transportation and making an impact in our community. We are quick communicators and decision makers. Just because millennials do things differently than older generations doesn’t mean that our way is better/ worse—it’s the way that we’ve learned how to succeed in the world. Unfortunately, older generations don’t view millennials favorably and believe millennials are entitled. Whenever I give speeches about millennials to older generations, I always remind them that not too long ago they were the young ones in the office and trying to find their place in the world. I don’t think older generations are that different when they were our age than millennials are today in terms of goals, wants and needs. In what ways does having younger employees add to a company’s success? Younger employees bring a fresh set of eyes and ideas to an organization. They aren’t married to the idea of “this is what we’ve always done” and tend to be risk takers. I’ve also found that younger employees tend to be more optimistic, creative and have the enthusiasm to give 100 percent toward chasing their dreams. What have been a few keys to your success so far? • Being focused on my initial goal of becoming the executive director of a company by the time I was 30.

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That has been a career goal of mine since my freshman year of college. • Taking on leadership roles in industry associations within the first 90 days of any job that I’ve started. It gives our company positive recognition and gets my name out there. • Not being afraid to “take a seat at the table” when I’m the youngest person in the room or the only female in the room. Also, being confident in my skills, abilities and knowledge to contribute to a conversation and/or give ideas that offer a different perspective. • Outworking my peers. If a boss tells the team that our individual goal is to collect 100 apples, my personal goal is to collect 110 apples before anyone else collects 100. What do you look for in a job/company? Creativity, flexibility, opportunity for impact in the community and sports industry, company culture, opportunity for advancement and how the company fits into my 10-, 20- and 30-year career plan. What’s more important to you: net worth vs. a job you love? In this moment (as an expectant mother), net worth has become increasingly more important. A year ago, I would have said a job you love, however, becoming a mother has shifted my priorities. Thankfully, my job provides for our family and is something that I love! Do you feel you are still refining/shaping what you want from your career? Absolutely! I’ve said that my career will always be a “work in progress.” The moment I get comfortable at a job is the moment I move onto to the next opportunity that will challenge me.

Tell us about some of your favorite ways to do worthwhile networking. I love attending tHRive events! Oftentimes because of my title, I’m one of the youngest people in the room at leadership networking events. Attending tHRive events gives me the opportunity to network with likeminded peers who are in my age group. In addition, some of my greatest networking opportunities have come from joining the Kiwanis Club of Norfolk. By doing good for others/the community, I’ve been able to do some extra good in my professional life. How are you contributing to life/community outside of the workplace? Outside of the workplace and industry specific associations, I serve as a board member and chair of the Events Committee for tHRive, on the Young Advisory Board for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and as a board member and committee member for the Kiwanis Club of Norfolk. What advice would you offer to other millennials or recent graduates about getting their careers to take off? Stay humble, stay hungry, and say yes! Every semester, I hire between two–five interns and always give them the same speech—remember, your first job is just that … your first job! It doesn’t define your career. It may not be exactly what you want to do or even what you went to school for, but you can always find pieces of any job that you have that will give you the skills, knowledge and ability to achieve your long-term career goals. Also, don’t be afraid to change jobs for new opportunities. Until becoming the executive director of the Hampton Roads Sports Commission, I had never worked somewhere longer than 1 year and 10 months.

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KYLE BUTTERS, 36 OWNER/GM, THE LANDING, VIRGINIA BEACH OWNER/CATERING SALES MANAGER, HIGH TIDE CATERING, VIRGINIA BEACH

How do you see your generation (millennials)? How do you think older generations define millennials? Our generation is the next generation that will take our country to new heights. We are at the age where we have seen and experienced enough in life to gain wisdom and understanding of all things surrounding us in business and personally and are confident enough to use this wisdom in a work environment. In a business sense we are taking old principles and philosophies that do not work as effectively as before and either improving them to make practices current, fresh and functional or completely restructuring how things are done and eliminating dated philosophies and implement a new and more generational forward way of thinking. I would think the older generations would define millennials as a group of strongminded, independentthinking individuals who are more focused and careerdriven than ever before. I would like to think the older generations are proud of us and should feel confident handing the reigns of our great country to the hands of a competent and very bright group. In what ways does having younger employees add to a company’s success? Younger employees add to a company’s success because they bring a competitive spirit to the workplace. There is confidence that youth provide, combined with energy and desire to learn and succeed that help companies grow internally. If a company is not attempting to grow and continuing to improve, they cannot continue to find success. Younger employees are still learning and competing to be better and more productive in the workplace. Healthy competition at work provided by younger employees helps a company grow, while older generations are there to provide wisdom and guidance that keep the company grounded and strong. What have been a few keys to your success so far? My success is based on my desire to be great. I continue to learn daily. I always feel like what I’m doing isn’t enough. I am very hard on myself and do not want to find myself in a place of complacency. I constantly compare my own companies to other businesses in my field and work toward being better. What do you look for in a job/company? I decided long ago that I wanted to be a creator of my own income and the provider for other job seekers. I have not worked for any other company beside my own for nearly a decade and do not plan to ever have an employer to make decisions for me.

Tell us about some of your favorite ways to do worthwhile networking. Most of my networking is done in my restaurant or at catering events and actually having face-to-face conversations with people. Shaking multiple hands at bars or events and handing out a stack full of business cards What’s more important to you: net From his nomination: isn’t really my style. I would rather worth vs. a job you love? Kyle maintains a very high get to know someone personally, We often joke about this: “If we level of service and provides an and those connections with wanted to get rich, we wouldn’t experience to guests that transcend people tend to provide a natuhave opened a restaurant!” A job or just a restaurant experience. Through ral progression of networking. company I love is more important extremely hard work, a fierce desire to People are important to me. to me than net worth. Obviously improve and constant uplifting motiva- I care about the relationships I went into business for myself to tion for his staff, he is creating an I build, and I believe in stroncreate wealth, but this is a labor of environment for staff and guests ger, more honest relationships love. I love what I do. I am comfortalike that is truly amazing. as opposed to just putting my able in life. I have gone through times of —Courtney Smith name in front of people in hopes struggle to be where I am, and I wouldn’t we can do business together. I don’t change this path for any reason. I believe if I view people as a form of income, rather do what I truly love to do and continue to grow an opportunity to meet someone new and internally, the money will be there along with it. Net interesting, and if those relationships lead to increased worth is important, but happiness is priceless. business revenue, that is fantastic.

What advice would you offer to other millennials or recent graduates about getting their careers to take off? Never stop learning. Find what you love in life, and invest yourself fully in it. Work harder than your competitors. Sleep less and read more. Eat healthy and take care of your body because without health, there is no success. Be open to criticism, and learn from it. Learn from your mistakes, even if you make them more than once. Do not be complacent. In this competitive world, complacency is the same as failure. Be willing to work with others even when you don’t like them personally. Be patient and kind to others and yourself. Building relationships is often more important than building a resume. Set goals and don’t quit until they are accomplished, and when that happens, set new goals. Most of all, believe you can do whatever you put your mind to as long as you are willing to put the work in to get there.

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JESSICA ABBOTT, 27 MANAGING PARTNER

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ABBOTT INSURANCE, VIRGINIA BEACH

From her nomination: Jessica is very focused on ways to engage other millennials in civic management and activism, and she is an advocate for her generation to take the reins passed down to them from older generations. —Matthew Cheatham, husband

How do you see your generation (millennials)? How do you think older generations define millennials? We’re defined as being lazy, self-absorbed and selfentitled. Despite these perceptions and challenges that face our generation, I see the silver lining. I see potential in my generation. We are learning innumerable skills like patience and self-reflection while in the grueling process of finding ourselves and our purpose, and it’s only going to make us better in the long run. Millennials may lack important labor skills despite being the most educated generation and the largest generation in U.S. history, but we’re on the brink of technological innovations that have made our world much smaller and more interconnected. We share many of the same priorities as past generations, but we just have different challenges to overcome. I see people who will find cures to terrible diseases or people who will improve the infrastructure to accommodate further technological innovations, and people who value a world that is more diverse, cooperative and peaceful. In what ways does having younger employees add to a company’s success? Millennials are transforming the U.S. workplace; our average tenure of employment is about two years, which is less than half the average for Generation X employees and over three times less than baby boomers. I think that we’re more willing to change our 58

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employment if we don’t think we are personally growing or learning valuable skills, so employers need to challenge millennials to make it understood that they’re willing to personally invest in our success. We’re also more willing than previous generations to collaborate with one another and push for big ideas while starting from scratch; we’re ambitious, and employers can utilize our strengths to be more successful. What have been a few keys to your success so far? I have an insatiable drive to better myself professionally by engaging in meeting the needs of my clients and trying to learn as much as I can about my industry. I’ve been privileged to have passed down valuable training by some of the best in my industry, and I have a wonderful support system in my family. What do you look for in a job/company? I look for competitiveness and the ability to create my own ceiling. I also require a near limitless capacity for advancing my personal growth and the opportunity to positively impact the lives of other people in the community. What’s more important to you: net worth vs. a job you love? I’m fortunate to have a career that engenders intrinsic value. I absolutely love my career because of

the impact I get to make in our community, but I also appreciate that my paycheck is a direct reflection of the effort I put in every day. Do you feel you are still refining/shaping what you want from your career? All entrepreneurs are constantly reshaping their careers; if I’ve learned anything, it’s that the situation rules, and you must mold yourself to the demands of your environment in order to be successful. It’s crucial to never lose sight of what’s important and to always try to positively impact those around you, too. How are you contributing to life/community outside of the workplace? I’m running for Virginia Beach City Council, and if elected, I will be the first millennial elected to Virginia Beach City Council. It’s important for our generation (which now constitutes a quarter of the voting population) to be a part of the political conversation and begin taking the reins from past generations. I am running to level the playing field, introduce fresh ideas and offer new insights that will help foster job growth and innovation. Millennials have zero representation in their local government, and it’s time for us to step up.

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BEST PLACES TO WORK Spelling out what makes a great work environment is somewhat of an inexact science. But who better to determine that than the employees who experience it day in and day out? This year we’re asking that employees nominate their places of work for the first annual “Best Places to Work” campaign. (Businesses chosen for the 2016 list will be featured in the February/March 2017 edition of CoVaBIZ Magazine.)

NOMINATIONS BEGIN OCTOBER 3, 2016

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Millennials On The Move 2016  

Coastal Virginia's best and brightest young professionals.

Millennials On The Move 2016  

Coastal Virginia's best and brightest young professionals.

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