Young Innovators: Trailblazing the Way for the Next Generation of Printers
Sarah Scudder, the chief growth officer of The Sourcing Group, one of the fastest growing print distributors in the U.S. — and one of the youngest executives to ever serve on the board for the Print Services and Distribution Association (PSDA) — recognized the dire need to attract and educate the next generation of printers and print distributors while attending an industry conference six years ago.
Scudder, who at that time, was in her mid-20s living in the Bay Area selling print technology, was shocked to learn that she was one of the only people under the age of 50 attending the conference. “After speaking with several fellow attendees, I learned this was the norm. I ran into PSDA’s executive director and asked him what they were doing to help their members attract, hire and retain young people. By the end of the conference, I had convinced him to let me create and run a Young Innovators group. He agreed to provide the resources and funding.”
The mission of the Young Innovators group is to engage young people and spotlight how technology and innovation can drive business growth in the printing industry. Comprised of young industry members who share a passion for driving growth and innovation, the group continues to evolve and bring cutting-edge material to the PSDA membership.
The Young Innovators has four committees:
- Conference: Each year, this committee puts on a conference for people under the age of 50. It’s a two-day, in-person event allowing people to network, share ideas, participate in workshops and learn from thought leaders.
- Education: This group puts on an educational webinar each quarter. Speakers talk about youth, millennials, innovation and how to remain relevant. The webinars are free and provide an hour of actionable content.
- Mentorship: The mentorship team oversees a program in which people with less than five years of industry experience are paired with someone that has more than 10 years of experience. The mentoring offers guidance, support, the sharing of ideas and establishes great personal connections.
- Regional Events: This committee puts on events throughout the U.S. that focus on exposing young people to careers in the printing industry. Events are fun, educational and provide valuable networking opportunities.
“I launched Young Innovators six years ago out of my concern, passion and love for the printing industry,” relays Scudder. “I, along with a small committee and the PSDA staff, coordinate the event. Our major tasks include securing sponsors, finding dynamic presenters and topics, and formatting a well-thought-out conference schedule. We market the conference to owners, CEOs and executives as a way to reward and educate their future company leaders."
Young Innovators is a strong force and has been driving significant change in the printing industry. The group continues to engage with young people. “Without educating the youth, there won’t be people to run our companies, innovate and ensure that our industry remains relevant," says Scudder. “It’s vital that we have a solid pool of young talent to take over the reins and eventually lead the printing industry.”
By 2025, millennials will make up 75% of the workforce, Scudder points out. “We can’t ignore them. If we don’t find a way to recruit and embrace them, we will not have people to work at our companies, and to lead our companies and drive change.”
After each Young Innovators Conference, PSDA sends out a survey to get feedback from the attendees. “We ask what we did well, what we can improve upon and how we can add more value at future conferences. We have received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback,” she notes.
Here are just a few of those comments:
“I really enjoyed the brainstorming activity. It allowed people to interact and work with each other.”
“I really enjoyed all the presenters. They all did a great job.”
“Would love to see another informative and engaging workshop as hosted by Spencer Penhart this year; we used some of his principles and incorporated it into our sales meeting. And we plan to incorporate it into another cross-department meeting later this summer — great stuff!”
“I loved the breakout activity. I always get a lot out of the small group discussions.”
“The Young Innovators Conference was fantastic! As a first–time attendee, I especially enjoyed the engaging discussion about our ever-changing industry from an innovative perspective and the sharing of best practices with my peers.”
“The industry needs young people that can help it grow. Events like Young Innovators and the content shared there are crucial to all of us.”
For the 2017 PSDA Young Innovators Conference, Scudder says to expect lots of networking, TedTalks and valuable activities that will be bundled into the agenda. Among the lineup will be dynamic presenters speaking about how to ignite brilliance in your creativity and innovation, how to navigate change, disrupting your company before your competition does, and how to differentiate your business with empathy, story and service.
“We will have a panel discussion with industry experts talking about innovation,” she concludes. “We are also looking to do a 'fast and furious' in which attendees will share their best, wildest, most creative and innovative strategy or idea that has delivered results for their business to a panel of judges. The winner will receive a gift and recognition in Print Solutions Magazine, and our e-newsletter and blog.”
The 2017 Young Innovators Conference will take place on June 1-2, 2017, at the Grand Hyatt in Denver. Click here to register, and to stay up to date on information about the conference.
About Sarah Scudder
Sarah Scudder is the chief growth officer of The Sourcing Group, one of the fastest-growing print distributors in the U.S. She co-hosts a weekly radio show, Career Conversations, in which she interviews entrepreneurs, community leaders and people who have made major career advancements. She’s a monthly columnist for the Print Services (PS) Magazine, a winner of North Bay Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 award, Print+Promo’s Trailblazer Under 40 award and Print Services & Distribution Association (PSDA)’s Member of the Year award, and an entrepreneur, co-founding the company Zen Balance, the creator of Relax + Focus: a stress and anxiety relief supplement.