Consultant Toni Scott featured in Chico Enterprise Record
Toni has served as President of the group for the last year and a half, and was previously Vice President of the organization.
The Young Professionals are an organization tied into the Chico Chamber of Commerce.
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Professionals group bridges gap between college, career
By ASHLEY GEBB-Staff Writer
Posted: 08/11/2013 10:31:23 PM PDT
CHICO — Chico native Ryan Cheung sheepishly admits it wasn't until he connected with other young business people that he took his first tour of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
His years with the Young Professionals Organization, an offshoot of the Chico Chamber of Commerce, have opened doors to not only brewery founder Ken Grossman, but dozens of other area business leaders, including those from Bidwell Perk, Transfer Flow and Shubert's.
The 31-year-old said the group has helped him tap into the business community in a way he never thought possible.
"Being born and raised here doesn't mean you see the business side of things," he said. "This gives you a venue that's pretty casual and allows you to learn and meet people but also gives you structure."
The Young Professionals Organization, better known as YPO, was created in April 2010 to bring together the region's young business people for networking and socializing. In just a few short years, membership has grown to 200 people from a multitude of industries, including agriculture, finance, manufacturing, hospitality and professional services.
Though no age limitations are enforced, most members are in their mid-20s to mid-30s. The idea is to bridge the gap between college and career.
"As a 28-year-old girl who didn't grow up here, who didn't understand the dynamics of who the business leaders are, it would be hard to plug in," said YPO president Toni Scott. "This is a way to get your feet wet and make connections."
Scott, a consultant with Morrison and Company, has found YPO tremendously helpful as she's carved out a professional career in Chico post-college. It's also a great way to meet people in the same stage of life, she said.
"We get to celebrate our promotions together, we talk through work-life balance and we learn to be leaders," Scott said.
Crystal Torres, 26, graduated with her criminal justice degree from Chico State a few years ago but struggled to find a job she wanted. When she landed at Recology, where she now works as a sales representative, she eagerly embraced its community involvement and became an ambassador with the Chico Chamber of Commerce.
"It's really important for me to be involved with both Chico and Oroville," said Torres, a lifelong Oroville resident.
She enjoyed being an ambassador but felt a bit of a generational gap. Then she heard about the fledgling YPO.
She joined in 2010 as part of its steering committee and has been involved ever since. Torres said she loves the monthly luncheons where members interact one-on-one with business leaders and the quarterly mixers with just members themselves.
"This is where leadership begins," she said. "They really make a difference in creating opportunities to be leaders and get involved through business networking and volunteering."
And as a young wife and mother of a toddler with another baby on the way, Torres said YPO has helped her gain insight on how to balance her career and family life.
YPO doesn't only benefit its members, Scott said. In connecting young professionals with businesses, the group facilitates tremendous appreciation for business owners and aspirations to be a greater part of the fabric of Chico.
"What I'd like to see is retention of the talent coming out of Chico State, which benefits our community and the economy as a whole," Scott said. "If we make those connections easy, maybe they won't feel so apt to leave."
Cheung, a certified public accountant who hopes to eventually be a partner at his firm Matson & Isom, said pursuing a career in his hometown was the right decision, made even better through joining the YPO.
"Just come out and try it," Cheung said. "It's laid back, it's casual, just come meet some people in the same situation as you."
Wednesday marks YPO's annual capstone event, which celebrates connections people have made, lessons learned and the business mentor of the year.
Anyone is welcome to attend and can contact the Chamber of Commerce for more details on the event or YPO.
Reach Ashley Gebb at 896-7768, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @AshleyGebb.
About the Author
Toni Scott is the managing principal at Morrison. To get in touch with Toni, please find contact information for Morrison here.