The second annual Young Professionals Summit was held on Sunday, January 21st as part of the NEWEA Annual Conference. This year’s event was cohosted by the NEWEA and NEWWA Young Professionals Committees. The Summit Planning Committee reimagined the event into an interactive all-day experience to focus on themes of networking, professional development, and innovation and had a great turnout of nearly 80 attendees!
Attendees were welcomed to the event by NEWWA YP Chair and NEWEA YP Vice Chair, Nate Little and Amanda Lade. The event was kicked off with a speed networking session to get the attendees out of their seats and energized for the day. The activity was a great start to the event to get the conversations started and allow the attendees to quickly get to know one another.
Speed networking was followed by Erin Mosley and Tom Kunetz’s presentation “Creating an Innovation Culture.” The pair kept the energy high and the laughs loud. Mosley, a former NEWEA president, created the Proficient Ingenuity programs to help professionals with their careers through innovation and unique leadership trainings. Tom Kunetz, WEF President-Elect and Assistant Director of Monitoring and Research for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, joined Erin and brought his improvisation techniques from his experience as a teacher at the famed Second City Training Center in Chicago. Erin and Tom had a great lineup of activities and brainstorming sessions to push the attendees out of their comfort zones and push through creative blocks. The pair motivated the attendees to think of a “transformation promise” to create a shift in their careers. Erin closed the session with encouraging attendees to bottle up their experience at the Summit and take the motivational and innovative experience from the event and bring it into their everyday lives.
After lunch the Summit resumed with Kate Novick and Sal Nesci. Novick opened the presentation with her background as Managing Director and founder of Gradient Planning, a consulting firm for risk management and emergency preparedness. Following Kate, Sal shared his personal story and provided a powerful message on leadership with the attendees. Sal is the Organization Development & Security Manager at South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority as well as an adjunct professor at Post University. Previous to his career in water, Nesci served in leadership roles in the Meridan, CT Police Department. He provided an interactive presentation for the attendees and had the group brainstorm ideas on what it takes to be leader. Kate built off of Sal’s leadership presentation and walked attendees through a collaborative exercise on a real-life emergency situation that a water professional might face in the field. She ended the Summit with the quote “Throw me to the wolves and I’ll return leading the pack” to encourage the young professionals to be leaders and strive in difficult situations.
Article written by Amanda Lade, AECOM