Behind The ScenesUncategorized

ESPN’s young professionals share their views to better the company

ESPN Young Professionals President Jennifer McKenzie and Adam Masterson speak at a YP Observation Program. (ESPN)
ESPN Young Professionals President Jennifer McKenzie and Adam Masterson speak at a YP Observation Program. (ESPN)

The workforce of today’s hyper-connected world includes a large percentage of “young professionals.” While the term can straddle many age groups, at ESPN the Young Professionals (YP) Employee Resource Group (ERG) is made up of millenial employees — or “Generation Y” — who mostly range from recent college grads through early 30-something year-olds.

ESPN’s YP ERG’s vision and mission is to create and offer opportunities for the millennial employee population to collaborate, contribute and develop. It is one of eight employee resource groups that were launched in 2009 to support ESPN’s Diversity & Inclusion strategy that focuses on leveraging the variety of perspectives in our Workforce, Workplace and Marketplace to strengthen the growth of our business. The other groups represent the African-American, Asian, Disability, Families/Work Life, Hispanic, LGBT and Women communities.

ESPN's Seattle-based Young Professionals (L-R/back to front) Aaron Dilley, Jessica Onarheim, Becky Dawson, Torey Hewitt, Alex Wells, Claire Geudj, Katie Severud, Andre Liloc and Philip Phung.
ESPN’s Seattle-based Young Professionals (L-R/back to front) Aaron Dilley, Jessica Onarheim, Becky Dawson, Torey Hewitt, Alex Wells, Claire Geudj, Katie Severud, Andre Liloc and Philip Phung. (Credit: ESPN)

“The purpose of YP is to be a resource for the company and its employees,” said YP President Jennifer McKenzie, who is an associate account manager in Digital Video Distribution for ESPN. “This is volunteer work and yet we have a dedicated leadership and committee team of 25 who listen to the desires and needs of the young professionals at ESPN.”

Consisting of more than 300 members throughout ESPN’s U.S. office locations, the YP ERG has contributed in a number of ways to maintain the company’s appeal to the younger audience through its business plan. (Each ERG comes up with a business plan each year to support the diversity strategy and support the Company’s top priorities.) Some of those efforts include hosting strategy sessions that allow them to voice their ideas and opinions to business leaders on areas such as the SportsCenter and ESPN Audio brands.

Other initiatives include the implementation of a 20-hour job shadow program that matches 15 YP members with a manager in the business group they wish to learn more about. They also have facilitated a networking event called “YP Car Wash” where members have an opportunity to spend one-on-one time with managers that represent different aspects of the business. As if that wasn’t enough, they have also launched an internal blog to stay connected across the different regions that ESPN has a presence, while also taking time to give back to the community.

“We work hard to provide opportunities for employees who want to meet people, contribute in different ways outside of their job, and grow and develop their career,” McKenzie said.

“As long as we continue to have engagement, success stories and retain high performing young professionals at ESPN, we are doing our job.”

(L-R) Victoria Vaynberg, Melissa Fazzio and Matt Hutvagner attended a Technology Speaker Panel in New York City. (Credit: ESPN)
(L-R) Victoria Vaynberg, Melissa Fazzio and Matt Hutvagner attended a Technology Speaker Panel in New York City.
(Credit: ESPN)
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