Over the past several months, I have had the privilege of attending both the ASA Women in Industry’s ELEVATE conference in Louisville as well as the Emerging Leaders EMERGE conference in New Orleans — both experienced record turnouts.

Hitting records is remarkable at a time when we are still slowly returning to connecting face to face as an industry. I think it speaks to both the need to get together in person as well as the value ASA provides in creating these opportunities. But what impressed me most was the level of energy and enthusiasm the attendees of both conferences had toward our industry and their role in it. Simply put, the future for our industry is very bright!

Both of these impressive divisions are experiencing a great deal of success in fulfilling the mission that ASA established when we created the Emerging Leaders and the Women in Industry divisions. That mission was to be the voice and advocate for these special member classes as they build their professional networks and advance their careers in our industry.

And now the value of both the Women in Industry and Emerging Leaders groups to our association and industry has expanded even beyond their core mission. These two vibrant and engaging groups are playing a growing role in being a conduit to new career seekers who increasingly look for industries and companies that place importance on advancing careers of younger leaders and women. These groups are literally providing access to the talent we all need to continue to build our organizations.  

It was clear after attending the ELEVATE conference that connecting women professionals who are building strong careers in the PHCP and PVF industry is enormously valuable.  And having a robust women’s group is something that ASA is already leveraging as we look to attract more women to our teams.  

Seeing women in key industry roles advancing their careers goes a long way toward eliminating the stigma that our industry is a male-dominated one that is not open to women career seekers. I am proud of the work that we have done at the Granite Group as we move towards being a more open and diverse company. We have a long way to go, but I think our early work has been a key part of our success in attracting more women to our team.  

“Simply put, the future for our industry is very bright!”

Now, having had the opportunity to speak to more than 220 impressive women professionals during the ELEVATE conference in Louisville and seeing firsthand the energy and enthusiasm these women have toward our industry, I am equally proud of those ASA member leaders who support sending their key women leaders to this growing industry program. Having a diverse and thriving Women in Industry division is important to our future, and I urge you all to support this group by sending some of your talented key female leaders to ELEVATE next year in Charleston, South Carolina (April 11-13, 2023).

While attracting more women to our industry is an important step toward filling the chronic void for talented people, preparing for the looming loss of institutional knowledge as senior leaders retire is just as critical. The role of Emerging Leaders has grown as the next generation seeks to develop the same lifelong relationships and strong industry connections their predecessors had while building their own careers.  

Celebrating the success of our emerging leaders as they begin to assume important leadership roles is another key component toward making our industry an attractive place to build a lifelong career. The EMERGE conference is yet another valuable and visible event that we can use to highlight and educate job seekers of the value of a career spent in the PHCP and PVF industry. 

Having attended EMERGE conferences in the past, it was exciting to see the growth and value the conference continues to offer. And like the ELEVATE conference, I applaud those firms that have invested in their emerging leaders by sending them to this growing program. Next year, I urge all of you to send someone to this conference as well (to be held in Savannah, Georgia, May 10-12, 2023).  The return you will receive is certainly worth the investment.

There is simply no way you could have attended both of these conferences and not come away feeling incredibly excited about the future of our industry. Celebrating and promoting young and diverse leaders is a key to any thriving organization’s long-term success. Based on what I was fortunate enough to witness in Louisville and New Orleans this year, the best is yet to come for our people and our industry overall!