By Adam Moore
The Corridor Business Journal is proud to introduce another outstanding class of Forty Under 40 honorees, all of whom have been selected for both their professional achievements and dedicated service to our communities.
This marks the 13th year the CBJ has presented the award to 40 of the Corridor’s most successful young professionals. More than 100 people were nominated this year, and a committee of previous honorees was gathered to make this year’s selections. The honorees were celebrated at an awards dinner, held Oct. 11 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in downtown Cedar Rapids.
Like previous classes, the Class of 2017 is undoubtedly hard-working – they reported putting in an average of 51.6 hours a week, just above last year’s average of 50 – and business-focused. Twenty-five of this year’s 40 honorees work in business fields, as opposed to education or law, and six have started their own companies or organizations. Half of this year’s class holds a C-suite, director or partner-level position.
That leadership perspective shined through in our annual honoree survey, which asked, among other things, about the biggest issue facing the Corridor today. Nearly half of this year’s class cited workforce and business recruitment challenges, while six cited sustainable land development as the region’s most pressing challenge and three said affordable housing – a fact perhaps reflecting the fact that all but one of this year’s honorees resides in Linn or Johnson counties.
“The secret is out! The Corridor is a wonderful place to live,” wrote Robin Boudreau, the founder and CEO of Iowa City-based nonprofit No Foot Too Small. “Unfortunately, we are growing at a rate that we struggle to keep up with.”
Sarah Madsen, corporate counsel for TrueNorth Companies, agreed, saying that “thoughtful development” is needed in the Corridor, and that “commercial offerings and infrastructure need to keep pace with our residential growth.”
This year’s class also seemed to chafe a bit at our question about what people should know about their generation in the workplace, whether due to the popular notion of millennials as self-absorbed or because they fall into the “in-between” status marking the common start and end points for the various generations (i.e. 1965-84 for Gen X, 1984-97 for millennials). Many proffered the view that generational distinctions and traits are a poor shorthand for defining people and emphasized the importance of understanding people on a deeper level.
“I’m an early Gen Y’er [millennial] with the habits and work ethic of Gen X and baby boomers,” wrote Gerald Beranek, founder and CEO of Cedar Rapids-based BeraTek Industries. “Despite the press on millennials, our generation is capable of doing hard work to produce the results any employer needs. The way we get to the results are different than the way it used to be done.”
“A lot more goes into making a person, defining their work ethic and inspiring them to be a part of an organization than the year printed on their drivers license,” added Heather Day, a project manager with Stanley Consultants.
It’s a vantage point that makes us hopeful for the future as the Corridor works to attract and retain talented workers, increase its diversity and include more people in the important task of developing our region. If there’s a takeaway from this year’s class, perhaps it is this: Forget the differences and get to work. That’s certainly a sentiment we can agree with.
This year’s honorees:
Stephanie Van Hemert