When the idea was conceived to create a networking group of up-and-coming professionals in the restructuring and turnaround industry, no one knew what this group was going to look like or how we were going to bring this idea to fruition. We knew we needed to identify future leaders for chapter succession planning, but we also saw an opportunity to fill a gap: there wasn’t a good place for the future stars of our industry to network and learn from one another.
Building on the “young professionals” concept, TMA’s Northern California Chapter launched the Next Generation Leaders (NGL) subcommittee. Prior to the creation of NGL, we were consistently faced with the challenge of how to meet and exchange ideas with other turnaround, restructuring, and bankruptcy professionals who were in the early to midpoint portions of their careers.
We found that only a limited number of these professionals attended traditional TMA events because it was somewhat intimidating to stand among senior turnaround executives with a vast experience in the field. NGL professionals needed to learn from more experienced turnaround veterans while getting the tools and skills needed to become the next leaders in the industry. Our creation of the NGL group was a perfect way to address several issues facing TMA and our chapter — it provided more value to up-and-coming professionals and while creating a great opportunity to drive new membership in TMA. The NGL group in San Francisco started with a couple of professionals who were excited about the idea of expanding this group.
The mission of the NGL group is to create an environment that matches more closely the interests and goals of younger turnaround professionals through a series of networking events and educational programs. Further, the NGL’s objective is to build the group of young professionals who will grow together, work together, and shape the future of the restructuring and turnaround industry.
As up-and-coming professionals ourselves, we saw immediate benefits by taking a leadership role in the formation of the NGL group and participating in its activities. The first was a heightened visibility in the community and in the restructuring industry. Being part of the NGL group provides exposure to a variety of important contacts in the turnaround industry and the larger business community. A second benefit was the expanded opportunities for business development and networking among future leaders. Because many of us are performing more and more business development, the NGL group provides an excellent environment to take our first steps and to learn from our peers. Third, the enhanced leadership and involvement in TMA provides opportunities for planned succession in the broader TMA organization.
Launching a Successful Group
While being part of the core NGL development committee was a lot of fun, there were several factors without which our success would not have been possible. The first was the dedication of the young professionals team members in both strategic thinking and tactical execution of the devised initiatives. Working with an excellent team is the best way to ensure success and to build long-lasting relationships.
Equally important was the buy-in and the support by both TMA International’s Board of Directors and our own chapter board. Our NGL initiative has benefited greatly from the chapter board’s encouragement, advice, and experienced guidance. Further, we never would have been able to make this happen without the financial support from our local chapter. It is common for a new venture’s first several events to be cash flow negative until momentum builds and the group becomes self-sustaining. That our chapter leadership understood this and agreed to absorb the initial expenses as an investment in the next generation of leaders were critical success factors.
From a chapter perspective, the NGL group has helped to attract members who previously might not have been interested in joining TMA at this point in their careers. It has begun to drive new members to our chapter and has created new opportunities for leadership. The group has given NGLs a platform that has allowed them to grow professionally by planning programs, writing articles, and even moderating panels for the wider TMA chapter.
In creating a TMA NGL group, our goal was to provide social, educational, and networking opportunities for up-and-coming turnaround and restructuring professionals. As members of this group, we were excited with the opportunity to help grow another “new market” at the local chapter level. We brainstormed and came up with fun networking events that would engage a new generation of TMA professionals.
Jump-Starting the Group
Our first event was held in January 2010 at a popular Irish pub located in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district. The event attracted about 25 young professionals. For the second and third events, we continued with the same format, and our numbers grew to more than 50 people.
To date, NGL has assisted TMA Nor-Cal by increasing membership and building brand awareness among young professionals. We have also built a very strong subcommittee, which has developed a prospect list of more than 70 NGL professionals within the Bay Area. One interesting thing to note: we chose a more upscale location for our third event, and found that the low cost ($15, including a drink ticket) coupled with the hot location, allowed professionals to sign up ahead of time and not worry if their schedule changed at the last minute. One complaint that we often hear is that up-and-coming professionals cannot always control their schedules, so the cost of an event—in case they have to cancel and forfeit the admission fee—becomes a real limiting factor for them to register for an event.
At these events, our goal was to network and socialize in a casual environment and exchange ideas of what individuals would like to see this group become. A common theme was: “How, as young professionals in TMA, do we navigate such an established industry that seems hard to break into?” Born from this was the idea for our fourth event, a panel that included TMA professionals at different stages of their careers. This helped NGLs create a road map for navigating our industry from the early years going forward.
Many TMA professionals early in their careers found that past educational events focused on the later stages of a career in the turnaround industry and ignored earlier stages, especially the earliest years. Our event was very well received and about 50 individuals attended (see sidebar below).
The NGL subcommittee will continue to facilitate this group while it builds momentum. As the group continues to evolve, more opportunities for the next generation of leaders will be created. For all NGLs across TMA, this is a great time to get involved and help other up-and-coming professionals develop the friendships, networks, and knowledge that will be needed to tap into new markets and opportunities for growth.
As a founding committee member of TMA International’s Young Professionals Committee, the NGL subcommittee has had an opportunity to share best practices and learn from of both long-established and newer chapters. Members interested in starting a young professionals program in their chapter are encouraged to take advantage of the resources available through TMA at turnaround.org/youngprofessionals.
Key Takeaways from NGL Panel "How to Build Your Book of Business Throughout Your Career in the Turnaround & Restructuring Profession"
Early Stage (entry – 10 years)
Cast a broad and diverse networking net.
Take leadership positions in industry groups.
Build core “toolbox” of hard skills.
Middle Stage (11 – 20 years):
Bring focus to everything you do.
Develop niche skills and relationships to support your focus.
Begin to market yourself accordingly as a specialist/expert.
Later Stages (21+ years):
Perpetuate your niche expertise & share with others as an educational leader.
Harvest your established network.
Help others build and expand their networks, which encourages reciprocity.