Moderating a Millennial Panel

By Andrew Craig, PE, Project Manager and Structural EngineerCraig-Andrew

If you were born between 1980 and 2000, you are a millennial. Millennials are also referred to as Generation Y.

Millennials currently account for 33% of the nation’s workforce with this number expected to increase to 50% in 10 years. KCI is no exception, with about one third of our employees falling into this group. KCI is currently seeking ways to attract and retain top millennial talent to support our future success.

As part of this initiative, I was asked to moderate a panel of four KCI millennial employees at a recent managers meeting. The audience included about 50 senior managers, most of whom were Generation X or Baby Boomers. The goal was to allow for the audience to listen and ask questions in order to gain a better understanding of what motivates millennials. The panel answered questions on a variety of topics including motivation, company culture, flex schedules, technology, benefits, time off, and compensation.

It was a great opportunity for the panel members and myself. We were able to open up about issues that were important to us and be heard by the people who drive our firm. The audience was fantastic and encouraged the conversation. We were able to debunk stereotypes, and by the end of the session, had demonstrated how millennials at KCI are a driven group that want to take on more responsibility, make more money, and help grow our team, all while enjoying our jobs.

As a 31 year old structural engineer in Charlotte, this was a challenging task for me. I am used to problem solving, not leading conversations. My biggest fear going in was that I would make this boring … I hate boring. I spent adequate time preparing, but was preparation enough to make it interesting? … It was not. I learned a lot of lessons about moderating during the session that I wish I had known beforehand. When the panel discussion started, I tried to keep too much control. I read from a list of questions and let the panel answer. About half way through, I decided to get out of the way and open it up to the audience. From that point on it became a real conversation between the audience and the panel. We were able to tackle the questions that the audience actually wanted answered, not what I thought they wanted answered. My advice to anyone who is asked to moderate, open up key topics but know when to get out of the way. I appreciated being given this opportunity. It allowed me to do something fun and different, and to be a part of making KCI an even more desirable place to work.