Any industry is only as good as its people. Sustaining success requires experienced industry veterans, as well as the ability to attract, educate and develop a younger and more diverse workforce to eventually move into leadership roles within their companies and industry.
Like a lot of industries, the metal construction industry is facing the challenge of retiring leaders with not enough replacements waiting in line to fill that void. Innovative ideas from future leaders have to be a valuable asset when making a difference in the continuing growth of the metal construction industry. That’s why the Metal Construction Association (MCA) and METALCON (produced by PSMJ Resources) have launched the Future Leaders Program—to attract, educate, connect and develop those eventual industry leaders.
“The opportunity to leverage METALCON brings great value to the program,” says Jeff Henry, MCA executive director. “Our objective is to increase the technical and business acumen of those new to the metal construction industry.
Henry anticipates the partnership with METALCON will eventually develop into a broad curriculum available to educate industry newcomers about the nuances of doing business in the industry, as well as the use of metal in construction. The METALCON team has hand-picked a selection of education sessions that will be beneficial to future leaders attending METALCON this October. MCA, working with METALCON, offers additional future leaders sessions virtually through METALCONLive! and dedicates webinars several times a year.
“Attracting a diverse variety of people to foster community and open their network will be the key to the success of the Future Leaders Program,” says Bridget Jammoul, market manager at Therm-All. “Not only folks from all areas, functions and levels within the industry, but people from all walks of life, too.”
There are opportunities to learn and grow with the industry by being an active association member. Members that continue to learn more about the metal construction industry are more valuable to their own companies.
“What we need, more than anything else, is to get people new to the industry involved,” says Mark Carlisle, industry marketing manager – Construction, U.S. Steel. “This isn’t an age discrimination thing. It’s good for anyone new to the industry to become engaged with other member companies. It doesn’t matter if they are early in their careers or the middle of their careers.
“Company leaders need to bring these people to meetings and trade shows, put them to work learning the industry. The more they know, the more they can help their company and the industry. The goal should be to get these people engaged to keep the MCA relevant.”
The mission of the MCA is to promote the use of metal in the building envelope through marketing, education and action on public policies that affect metal’s use. The success of one member becomes the success of all.
PSMJ, the producers of METALCON, partnered with MCA to launch the Future Leaders Program. Online and in-person events are continuing opportunities for metal construction professionals who have the desire to develop skills needed to advance.
“Metal construction, or really all construction, may not be as appealing as industries like tech,” says Ryan King, national sales manager at Cidan Machinery. “I think this program attracts new, younger talent into our industry through education, mentoring, networking and more. It will also get those younger people already in our industry to think about their career and company’s future.
“Like most industries, our current leaders are baby boomers and Gen X. Boomers are mostly near or already retired. Gen X are mostly our leaders now, but millennials are already stepping into leadership roles. Gen Zs are now 11-26 years old and they, too, are part of, or soon entering the workforce. I believe this program will help shape the leaders of the future and bring new blood into our industry.”
Jammoul believes it’s an easy decision to become involved.
“To me, a future leader has nothing to do with age,” she says. “It’s a moniker that says, ‘I’m passionate about this, I’m invested in this and I’m here to stay.’ A collective group with that mindset is sure to add value to the metal construction industry. Small ways, such as reverse-mentoring senior leadership members on a topic like the use of AI to increase sales team efficiencies, to potentially larger ways, such as cross-collaborating on product or service offerings. I think the sky’s the limit here.”
Jammoul says she wants to connect with people who are excited about the present and future landscape and who are in it for the long haul.
“We live in a fast-paced world,” King says. “I think more MCA members need to encourage their hungry and driven people to get more involved. We also need to offer workshops and networking for future members to learn from the boomers and Gen X and other speakers.”