Young Money: Walter introduces Emerging Business Leaders - INTERVIEW
blog by Caitlin Campbell McNulty • July 31, 2013 @ 8:55am
There are quite a few groups for young professionals to get involved in throughout Western New York. No matter what you’re looking to do – volunteer, network, grow sales opportunities, or gain further industry knowledge – there’s a group for you.
Continuing in my series of profiles on young professionals organizations, I sat down with Mark Walter, chairman of Emerging Business Leaders. Mark has been chairman of EBL for the past two years and is closing in on the end of his term.
In real life, Mark’s day job is serving as senior health benefits consultant, new sales at BlueCross BlueShield of WNY. He’s also an avid volunteer fireman and recently launched his own business – Unpaid Hero – which celebrates volunteer responders (see Walter in photo, right).
Caitlin McNulty: What is Emerging Business Leaders?
Mark Walter: The EBL is a group of young (primarily under age 40) ambitious professionals who have dedicated their time to personal and professional development. Established in 2010 under the direction of Colleen DiPirro the group is part of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce.
CM: Who typically attends your events?
MW: The commonality in the room is everyone is a young professional, but the industries and professions represented is an eclectic blend: lawyers, physicians, CPAs, social media professionals, insurance professionals, human resources professionals the list really goes on and on…
CM: How would someone go about joining Emerging Business Leaders?
MW: It really is quite simple. I would recommend attending one of our events: a Coffee Connection, Food for Thought or ProMix to meet some of our members and see if our group is a right fit for you. After that a simple application is all that is needed.
CM: How many members do you have currently?
MW: We have over 500 names on our email list and between our three different events; we touch about 100 people each month. The great part about our events is that you’ll find a different group of people at each event, so there are always new faces.
CM: What’s the difference between EBL and other young professional groups, like BN360?
MW: There are a variety of young professional groups in WNY and across the country. The EBL really prides ourselves on providing programming with a purpose, our Advisory Board puts great emphasis on the fact that everyone’s time is valuable, we are not simply a social club - we want our members to walk away from our events with something, a new connection, a new skill or knowledge.
CM: So it’s my first time at an EBL event. What can I expect?
MW: Expect a warm reception. Most of us have walked into a networking event or speaker engagement and not known a single person in the room. We pride ourselves on making sure there will be a warm welcome and an ambassador to help you make connections. Following the networking portion there is usually a short program. We know your time is important so we focus on having quality events that flow.
CM: What’s coming up for Emerging Business Leaders?
MW: Every month we host Coffee Connection, started by former Advisory Board Chairman Alan Dembski. The morning network event provides attendees with a brief presentation by an industry expert. Our monthly Food for Thought events allow a small audience to have a meal, usually lunch, with a local C-Level Executive. Lastly, our monthly ProMix events provide networking with a purpose.
CM: What are the next few events that people could get involved with right away?
MW: We take a brief break during August (summers in WNY are so short we know people want to be able to take advantage it!) but are back with a full schedule in September. Coffee Connections are held on the second Tuesday of the month – September’s will be on the 10th and feature Michael Mule of Designated Drivers of Buffalo. Our ProMix will be on September 12th at Silo City and feature some fun activities with Bflo Harbor Kayak. We’ll also hold a Food for Thought lunch with Chamber President Colleen DiPirro on Monday September 16th.
CM: What are some of your signature events?
MW: We are in the process of planning our next Awards Ceremony. Board member Allison Conte of Eric Mower & Associates and her committee are finalizing details for a night that surely won’t disappoint. Personally, I find a great deal of value in our Food for Thought series.
Through my time with the EBL I have had the distinct pleasure to sit down with a small group of like-minded professionals and engage in meaningful conversations with local leaders such as Jody Lomeo, James Kaskie, and Dottie Gallagher Cohen.
CM: Anything else you’d like to add?
MW: As a young professional it is important to have a healthy work-family-social balance. Time with my family is valuable, so when making a decision to align myself with a group I wanted to ensure I would benefit from it. The EBL has awarded me the opportunity to grow professionally and personally over the past three years.
As the chairman of the EBL Advisory Board I have the unique opportunity to sit at the head of a table, surrounded by some of WNY’s brightest young professionals. I have fostered relationships that will undoubtedly continue for years to come, for that I am grateful.
Thank you Mark! For more information on Emerging Business Leaders, visit the Amherst Chamber of Commerce’s website at http://www.amherst.org.