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Generational change.

It’s unnerving hey? There were some fascinating conversations at the Gala Dinner last month about what each generation contributes to the profession. I found the conversations particularly enlightening. I suspect that  we are at a generational change cross-road within IABC Victoria.  

And I am not sure what you want to do about it.

We are currently at 230 members and have seen substantial growth in corporate membership with over a third of our members belonging to corporate member organisations (welcome new Corporate Member Vic Roads!).

A review of the member data show that 50% have been members for less than three years and many more appear to be early career than previously before. We don’t keep data on age, but looking at roles and those who are attending events, we seem to be attracting more who are newer in the profession. Having said that more than half have the title of Manager or Director.  Those members who have spent 5 years or more in IABC Victoria represent 30% of the membership.

Glass half empty or half full.

Is this a problem? IABC Victoria is getting younger? Are we are losing our mature members? Or is this recognition of generational change? Since my time in the association the chapter has differentiated itself as comprising of later career members and those more senior in profile. But I think this is chicken and egg, if the more experienced members are not actively engaging in the member benefits and strategic decision making of the chapter then it is unlikely that growth will come through this demographic. If the strategic decision making is more and more occurring via a younger generation it is less likely to appeal to the more senior generations. The local value delivered must reflect the demographics of the membership.

It has only been in the last 18 months that the average age of the board has reduced from 38 to 35. From a strategic perspective, the Board has installed two student chairs for the first time. Their brief is to provide a bridge between current industry practice and up and coming trends from the Gen Y, Gen Z and linkages with universities.  I shall be handing over the Chapter President to Kate O Donnell, a proud Gen Y-er.

Having the younger end of the profession in IABC Victoria leadership is not without precedent. I am led to believe that Belinda Schmidt has the honour of being the youngest Chapter President (in 2005-2006), and Belinda led the chapter to no less than five international awards culminating in Mid Sized Chapter of the Year!

Hands up?

The people who are volunteering to work on making the IABC Victoria community active, content rich, and rewarding are increasingly Gen Y. Our Gen X members for the most part are either satisfied with their career successes and happy to be passive consumers of their membership, or so overwhelmed with more study, climbing ladders, and juggling family they have no time to commit. And we occasionally hear from the baby boomers, but they are not putting their hands up to volunteer.

In the next few months we will be putting a call out for nominations for the 2011/2012 Board. Applications will be judged on merit and time available to commit to the roles, as well as fit for role. We are always looking for members to volunteer on tasks, projects, and programs of work. The quickest way to get value out of your membership is to be active in the community.

 I do see immense value in a diverse composition of the board and hope we will have applications for either board roles or volunteers from all generations. Will I be the president who turns away enthusiastic and energetic Gen Ys for the sake of lack of experience in the industry, or knowledge of the APA Style Guide or Strunk and White’s Element of Style? No, not on your life. I’m very much looking to supporting Kate and her peers in their activities in the chapter.

My question back to you as members is what do you wish to do about generational change?