By Shirley Che

“By 2025, millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce.” Whether accurate or not, (the number was recently challenged but remained widely accepted to be fact), we have all read or heard this statement at some point in the last few years. This number has driven plenty of workplace articles, each of which drawing a different prediction or sentiment of what that means to their respective target audience. And today, it’s my turn.

As someone born in the early 80s, and blessed (or cursed, especially in terms of career advancement) with a very youthful appearance and “vibe,” I personally cannot wait for my generation to rise to power, and take over the world figuratively and literally. I have worked most of my association and marketing career supporting and betting on young professionals and emerging leaders. I have made it my personal mission to advocate for this group whenever I have the opportunity to. I have shoved and pushed my way to the room (sometimes I am fortunate enough to have an actual seat at the table) just so I could be the person in that room or at that table to throw an emerging professional’s name in the hat – be it a speaking opportunity, a nomination for an award, a publishing opportunity, their name on a project, or a promotion; I strive to be these bright young stars’ advocate.

I have worked closely alongside plenty of brilliant millennials in AEC and beyond, who are resourceful, socially conscious, efficient, adventurous, and incredibly adaptable, but not always heard or seen. They are today.  At Zweig Group, we embrace the idea of Rising Stars.  In our Dallas office, I am the oldest staff member by over a decade, and I am not even 40 yet.  I am in awe of our office’s work ethic, pace, efficiency of collaboration, dedication, and intelligence.  If they were eligible for this award, I would have entered each of their names.    

The bigger picture I want to make sure we don’t miss today, however, is that each of these 2021 Rising Stars winners that you will read about in the following pages has someone in “the room” advocating for them. As much as we must credit these Rising Stars for their own hard work and subsequent accomplishment, the cold hard truth is unless their firm, a manager, or a mentor, cares to encourage and recognize it, hard work and brilliance often get buried. I want to applaud all the firms and nominators for taking the time and effort to give credit where it’s due. Giving credit and recognition might actually be the easy part, having created opportunities and carved out space for these Rising Stars to shine is the actual admirable part. Winning this award says a lot about the Rising Stars themselves, but we must not neglect what that also says about these firms. 

Be it 75 percent or 40 percent, this generation is a (work) force to be reckoned with, and so much more capable than we can probably even imagine. I look forward to growing older and wiser with my fellow emerging professionals; and making every room and every table we occupy the room to be in and the table to be at. I predict we will see some of our winners in these rooms and tables.


Shirley Che is Marketing Manager at Zweig Group. Contact her at sche@zweiggroup.com.

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