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Headquarters Report - November 2014

By Edward P. Salek, Executive Director and CAE

Professional pathways start here

STLE strives to provide the Millennial Generation with compelling skill sets and preferred learning styles.

Let’s begin by giving credit where due. The topic for this month’s column was inspired by my colleague, STLE education manager Tom Heidrich, who is a full-fledged member of the Millennial Generation. Millennials, born during the 1980s or 1990s, sometimes are referred to as Generation Y.

Tom shared a report titled Associations, Generation Y and Millennials, which was prepared late last year for the American Society of Association Executives. It’s based on a series of extensive interviews with 26 members of the Millennial Generation. The focus is on what associations, like STLE, need to do to more fully engage these individuals.

“Younger members are just as interested in career and professional development, networking and advancement as any other generation was and is,” according to the report. “However, they have different ways of getting those needs met, as well as economic pressures that are preventing many of them from engaging with associations.”

Two of the many specific strategies and suggestions for greater engagement mesh nicely with initiatives and projects currently underway or available from STLE. The first of these strategies is to define exactly what skill sets are required to be successful in the industry or profession.

As part of the STLE 2013-2016 Strategic Plan, our organization is giving top priority to the creation of a body of knowledge for lubrication professionals. Members of STLE’s Education Committee are developing an industry body of knowledge, including learning pathways to guide both individuals and companies in their continuing professional education planning. Watch for more news about this project in the near future.

A less formal but equally valuable activity aimed at young professionals is the Career Mapping and Mentoring Session, held as part of STLE’s first Tribology Frontiers Conference (Oct. 26-28) in Chicago. This new event provided career advice and insights from a panel of professionals representing the wide variety of companies and institutions that find a professional home in STLE. It also provided an opportunity for students and young professionals to meet and network with individuals, with insights into what it takes to build a successful career in the lubricants industry—and how STLE membership can support that goal.

Blended learning, the second recommended strategy for serving the Millennial Generation, also is being embraced by STLE. It is, according to the study, a familiar and preferred delivery method for young professionals. Our organization is working hard to expand options beyond the traditional but still valuable sage on the stage form of classroom instruction.

In this case, the STLE portfolio now includes nearly 100 recorded Webinars on a wide variety of topics. These hour-long lectures by expert instructors provide an inexpensive and convenient way to build general knowledge in broad areas such as lubrication fundamentals or specific technical segments like grease or synthetic lubricants.

Like most professional societies, STLE is eager to serve the industry and support its organizational future by engaging young professionals and convincing them to make STLE their professional home for the long term. While that’s not a simple task, the Millennials who participated in this recent study offered a very strong clue in the report: provide resources and experiences that keep younger members excited about their chosen careers.

For another angle on the topic of career mapping and advice for young professionals, see this month’s Sounding Board report on page 94.

You can reach Certified Association Executive Ed Salek at esalek@stle.org.
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