J.K. Rowling once said: “We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” The great British novelist and Harry Potter creator makes a valid point.
In Vancouver, that strength is found in groups which connect professionals with the same interests and passions. The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade established the Company of Young Professionals (CYP) program in 2007 for this reason, to help people under the age of 35 accelerate career growth.
Fast-forward 11 years and the CYP is as still thriving, helping young people to acquire the skills they need to advance in their careers. We spoke with Chair of the CYP Advisory Committee, Yumi Mooney, who works as a supply chain optimization analyst at Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, to find out more.
Can you tell us about the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade’s Company of Young Professionals (CYP) program?
CYP is a network of emerging leaders under the age of 35 in Vancouver. We offer about 10 different events per year for our membership, including leadership cafes, professional development nights, and networking socials. We also offer community outreach initiatives for those who want to volunteer their time for the causes they care about. And, we have a peer mentoring program (PLF) where teams work together to find solutions to issues that matter to them.
The program is so much more than a simple network. CYP goes beyond the typical networking event. We are empowered through CYP to create meaningful, long-term connections.
And we’re taking it to the next level! Last fall, we debuted a “Night of Non-profit Board Recruitment and Engagement”, hosting over twenty non-profits seeking young professionals to join their boards. We heard from our members and from the non-profits that this event was a huge success. Next year, we’re thinking of ways to bring more unique events to CYP that will resonate with our members.
None of this amazing work could be done without our team of dedicated volunteers. Behind every CYP event or initiative, there is a group of volunteers working hard with the GVBOT staff to put on the programs that resonate with members. I couldn’t have accomplished what I have in this role without the committed volunteers who came before me, and support me today.
What does your role as Chair of the Advisory Committee involve?
As Chair, I am responsible for setting the tone for the program. This year, my goal for CYP is to “Infuse Policy”.
The energy I spent every weekend bemoaning housing (un)affordability with friends wasn’t getting anywhere. I didn’t know how to activate and was starting to feel disenfranchised. That’s where Infusing Policy comes in.
Infusing Policy is about encouraging intelligent conversations about policy that matters to us most – housing affordability, regional transit, and sustainability. And what better mechanism to do this but through the framework we have at CYP?
We’ve had a busy year, with a housing affordability workshop with the City of Vancouver and holding an executive round table with Translink’s VP of planning and policy. We have a CYP representative who sits on the GVBOT Policy Council. Later in March, we will be talking to YVR about their 2037 plan. In April, we’re excited to hold our third Big Idea Contest and will be asking members to answer this question:
As young professionals, what is one important change you would you like to see made to Greater Vancouver’s transportation system by 2030?
I strongly believe our members have a role to play in the policy decisions shaping our region. Having educated conversations about policy is the first step to getting involved. I hope that next, we’ll start moving beyond conversation and toward action.
How has your involvement with the CYP has helped you in your career with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority?
I’m learning through my work at CYP what kind of leader I want to be. In my four years with the program, I’ve had a chance to work on a lot of different skills – from public speaking and networking, to strategic thinking and leadership development.
Thinking strategically and setting a vision aren’t traditionally areas an analyst will focus on. But, my role at CYP has encouraged me to flex these muscles. It’s changed my mindset at work – I can think strategically and be an analyst at the same time. Applying a strategic or systems lens gives me a totally different perspective into the work we do at the Port.
There’s a big difference between where I was in July 2014 and where I am today. I feel more grounded. I credit the confidence I’ve gained through throwing myself into uncomfortable situations (i.e. networking events – I’m shy!) for this. The more I make myself uncomfortable, the more confident I am in situations that aren’t so vulnerable.
What have been the biggest challenges you faced in your CYP role to-date?
My biggest challenge came last year. I’m the type of person who sometimes doesn’t know her limits. I took on two roles, as both the Chair of the Outreach Committee and Vice-Chair of the Advisory Committee. When I accepted the roles, I figured I’d be able to do everything – run a volunteer committee, help the Advisory Committee Chair with strategic priorities, all with a winning smile.
I soon learned that there was physically too much for one person to take on. I beat myself up about not being able to handle all of my responsibilities on my own. I was disappointed in myself and heartbroken that I came to my limit.
This is where my team came in. I knew I had to trust my team and let go of some of my tasks. I knew I had rock stars who had great ideas and the drive to make them happen. The challenge was to convince myself to let them. It was hard to let go. But it was worth it. The team rose to the challenge, ran a successful year, and went on to debut our board matching event in the fall.
I learned that leadership isn’t about doing everything – you can’t, even if you really want to. Leadership is about empowering those around you to make their mark.
Who would you encourage to enroll in the CYP?
I would encourage any young professional who wants to connect with people who care fiercely about Vancouver’s future. Whether you’ve had six months or 10 years experience, we want to hear from you.
We are like-minded in being passionate, ambitious, and driven people. What ties us together is our diversity in opinion. We have a vibrant forum to develop the future leaders in our community – why not add your voice to ours?
For more information about the Company of Young Professionals and to get involved, visit the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade.
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