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PMA Talent Talk: Managing younger professionals

Megan Nash, (right) program director for PMA’s CGT, and Alicia Calhoun, CGT’s vice president of talent, moderated and asked questions on managing younger produce professionals.

ANAHEIM, CA – PMA Fresh Summit has always been a gathering place, but today, it’s also a platform for recruiting students into the industry through the Center for Growing Talent (CGT) by PMA BB #:153708.

An education session October 17 capitalized on this breadth to discuss talent topics including onboarding, career development, and creating a culture for collaboration.

Alicia Calhoun, CGT’s vice president of talent, moderated and asked questions, including the oft-repeated lament that younger workers are lazy.

Alain Godard, director of Wonderful Company’s BB #:115157 direct sales distribution in New York, commented that “every generation has been called lazy coming up,” while others believed it was more the style of working—bringing about the quality vs. quantity argument.

More interesting was the discussion of work/life balance, which Calhoun quickly rephrased as “work/life integration,” since she believes balance is no longer the correct term. Balance implies equality, and for many, there is no such thing. There are certainly efforts to achieve balance, but most fall short.

Students and millennials in the room acknowledged the importance of integrating life and work, confirming that a company’s culture and mission are indeed tied to job satisfaction.

Money is not the driving factor as it is for older professionals, though career advancement and mobility are. Younger members of the audience and panel agreed that a clear path for advancement was very important to whether they would stay at a company or begin looking elsewhere.

The need for formal onboarding received mixed responses, with some believing it a crucial stepping stone to success and others finding the challenge of navigating on their own more rewarding.

Megan Nash, Program Director for CGT, enjoyed taking the initiative to ask questions, and took it upon herself to learn and understand previous roles, while Morgan England, a junior majoring in Food Science at Cornell University, appreciated being challenged to define her role and responsibilities.

Godard was on the other side of the fence, espousing a more structured onboarding process, believing it was beneficial for new associates to develop an appreciation for the duties performed by all members of a team, which in turn would help new hires understand a company and assimilate more quickly.

Calhoun and others also emphasized the need for transparency, as well as ensuring supervisors are approachable so direct reports can share their thoughts on how things are going and what could be improved.

Taryn Pfalzgraf is Senior Editorial Manager for Produce Blueprints