The full text of the keynote speech given by Laura Manion, President & CEO of Chester County Chamber of Business & Industry at Thursday evening’s VISTA Millennial Superstar Reception and Celebration at Penn State Great Valley.
My name is Laura Manion, and as you heard, I have the privilege of serving as the President of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry. I’m also a proud millennial and new mom to a 9-month-old.
It is my absolute pleasure to be here tonight to celebrate the incredible accomplishments of the 40 millennial superstars in Chester County. Your achievements are a testament to your hard work, dedication, and commitment to excellence.
I’d like to start tonight by thanking Vista Today for bestowing upon me the honor of giving this evening’s keynote address. Four years ago, I was in your position as an award recipient, and it’s a bit surreal to be here on stage tonight to address the crowd and this year’s recipients.
Tonight’s class of Millennial Superstars are leaders in their respective fields, from attorneys to entrepreneurs, event planners and marketing professionals, to non-profit leaders and business owners.
Tonight, isn’t simply a cause for celebration. It’s an opportunity for us millennials to network and inspire.
Millennials now make up the largest generation of our workforce today. As a generation, we are defined by the impact of technology, having to adapt to the ever-expanding social media and communication advancements. Our generation has introduced different thought processes on leadership, cultural issues, and politics, differentiating us from previous generations.
Now, there is confusion when it comes to who qualifies as a millennial. More often than not, we are lumped in with Generation Z, the generation that follows. I’m here to set the record straight.
Most millennials are now closer to 40 than we are 20. We want to live in standalone houses, not townhomes or apartments, because all we want in life is to give our dogs a yard. We have more plants than we do kids because we can’t afford kids.
We do enjoy avocado toast, but not enough that it has put us into debt – that is our massive student loans we took out after we were told we needed to attend good colleges to get good jobs. Then we were hit with the largest economic downturn in history just as many of us were entering the workforce. Now, our backs hurt and we need eye cream.
We still have a Facebook, but we don’t use it because our parents ruined it for the rest of us.
We don’t understand Tik Tok, but we watch the videos anyways.
We try and keep up with the Gen-Z trends, but there’s no way we are going back to low rise jeans and Y2K fashion.
We are uniquely positioned in society as the last generation to grow up expanding our imaginations outside. The ones whose youth was forever embedded with the September 11 attacks, the war in Iraq, and the 2008 Great Recession. Every generation has faced their great adversity, and we are no exception, you could argue that we’ve experienced more than most.
We are the generation who received the participation trophies and were told we could be anything. We are the first generation to come of age with the internet, cell phones, the digital age, and harness it’s potential and power.
So tonight, I’m going to talk about how millennials are changing the workforce – and our society – for the better.
Millennials have grown up in a world that is constantly changing. From smartphones to social media, we came of age when technology’s reach greatly expanded, enabling on-demand access to information, entertainment, platforms for self-expression, as well as revenue generation.
For better or worse, we have embraced technology in all aspects of our lives. As a result, we are naturally comfortable and well-equipped to use it to our advantage in the workplace. Although, with great knowledge comes great responsibility. And it is said, behind every upper management boomer in the workplace, is an underpaid millennial who showed them how to open a PDF attachment.
We are constantly exploring new and emerging technologies, such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, to see how they can be integrated into the workplace. We continue to develop programs that allow us to collaborate and communicate with colleagues in real-time, regardless of our location, streamlining processes and increasing efficiency – allowing us to get to happy hour earlier.
However, we also understand that technology is not a silver bullet. We recognize that it is just a tool, and that ultimately, it is people who drive innovation and progress. This is why we place such a high value on collaboration and teamwork.
We are passionate, innovative, and eager to make a positive impact on the world. This has led to a shift in workforce demographics, where millennials are increasingly leading divisions within organizations, or even an entire business. We push for more support, flexibility, and a healthy work-life balance. We understand that a company’s culture is at the foundation of its keys tosuccess. And in stark contrast to the generations who came before us, we show a willingness to leave a company when leadership doesn’t reflect care for our peers or its customers. Some may call it entitlement, but we view our place within the workforce in more moralistic and idealistic terms.
We understand the value of teamwork and are always looking for ways to work together to achieve common goals. We recognize that everyone contributes unique skill sets and perspectives, and we strive to create an inclusive environment where everyone’s ideas are heard and valued. Millennials are globally minded and understand the importance of diversity, meaning we are open to new ways of doing business, communicating, and cooperating with others – no matter how different we may be.
We question and challenge the prevailing wisdom and ‘way of doing things’ that was passed down and inherited. We have an entrepreneurial mindset and are always looking for new opportunities to innovate. This is what makes us so well suited to take over leadership positions in the workplace. We are unconventional.
Our standards are high. We are questioners and disruptors by nature. We want flexible work arrangements because they allow us to better manage our time and be more productive. We prioritize self-care, taking breaks, and engaging in physical activity, all of which contribute to a healthier and more productive lifestyle – making us better employees long term
As a millennial in a position of leadership, I’ve done my best to add the input of our generation into my line of work. As President of the Chamber, I have used my platform to advocate for policy issues affecting the workforce as a whole, but specifically for us millennials.
More public transportation and bikability in our communities. Sustainability and smart energy decisions. Responsible development to support affordable and attainable housing. Accessibility and affordability of childcare. Diversity, equity and inclusion.
We have the experience to lead on these issues in our workplace and in our communities.
We have the opportunity to reshape the future of work in our image. By bringing our unique perspective, innovative ideas, and strong essential skills, we are already making a significant impact on the workplace.
We must mentor future generations and share the essential skills that we have acquired, such as adaptability, creativity, and problem-solving. As we continue to grow and advance in our careers, we will remain committed to achieving a better work-life balance and fostering a positive workplace culture. By doing so, we can create a better future for ourselves and for future generations.
I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to the 40 millennial superstars being honored here today in Chester County. You are shining examples of the incredible talent, dedication, and innovative thinking that millennials bring to the workforce.
Together, we can make a positive impact on our communities and the world. Once again, congratulations to all the honorees today, and I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.