“Lazy, entitled, selfish, and shallow”—people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s are the “Me Me Me Generation,” according to a 2013 cover story in Time magazine. This generation, the largest since the Baby Boomers, is called the Millennials.
According to Forbes magazine, there are an estimated 80 million Millennials in the U.S., and by 2020 they will comprise nearly half the nation’s workers. If this is the case, some questions arise: “Do they make good employees?” and more importantly, “Will they make good leaders?”
Recent research provides answers. Surprisingly—but perhaps not surprisingly for Millennials themselves—the research finds this generation is defined differently from the “Me Me Me” negative descriptors, especially when it comes to Millennials in the workforce.
IBM published a study in February 2015, called “Myths, exaggerations, and uncomfortable truths,” debunking the previously held misconceptions about Millennials in the workplace. This includes the myth focusing on Millennials wanting constant acclaim, and shows instead their desire for “a manager who’s ethical and fair and also values transparency and dependability.” In terms of their leadership capabilities, the study provides a recommendation for business leaders:
“They should eagerly look for ways to embrace Millennials and create the work environments where top talent can flourish—across all generations.”
As you scroll down, you’ll read about PLNU Millennial alumni who are talented, ambitious, team-oriented, and faithful—and they are already serving in leadership positions throughout the country.
Senior Trader Capital Markets
On Sept. 16, 2008, Nathan Regehr (04) was working as senior trader capital markets for Fortes Financial, in charge of trading, loan sales, and interest rate protection. On that day, he was at the epicenter of the Wall Street crash, when stocks fell by 21 percent and bond yields plummeted to record lows.
“It was an incredibly chaotic and stressful time,” Regehr shared. “I would get on my knees everyday and pray. I had no idea if my next paycheck would come. I just had to trust God and do the best I could.”
After graduating from PLNU with a bachelor’s degree in international business, Regehr’s career advanced quickly, and within just a few years he stepped into his leadership position as a senior trader. He was qualified and prepared, but because of his age, he had to work extra hard to earn respect.
“The industry was frustrating,” Regehr said. “It was full of angry people—many of whom were trying to take advantage of every possible situation. I was fortunate to work for an ethical company.”
Fortes Financial chose not to offer loans such as second trust deeds or subprime mortgages that were detrimental to borrowers.
“Other companies chose differently and made a quick buck,” Regehr explained, “but we decided it wasn’t worth destroying customer relationships or putting borrowers into bad situations. Ultimately, those other companies fell first and hardest.”
Though Fortes did end up going under, God provided for Regehr, he said. During the period he spent without a job, Regehr spent a considerable amount of time volunteering for PLNU’s Alumni Association and Homecoming Committee, and helped get the Alumni Business Auxiliary started.
“God provided me with a break, and I took advantage of it every way I could,” Regehr said.
Eventually, an opportunity opened up at Home Savings of America and Regehr took it. There, he served as vice president capital markets for several years.
“I’ve struggled a lot with working in the lending industry,” Regehr said. “I often wonder why I am working in an industry full of fraud, greed, and controversy. I pray a lot about it, talk with those I trust, and just let God lead me in the direction He wants me to go. What surprises me is that every time I try to get out, He pushes me back in. We are called to be the salt of the world—lights in the darkness—and my industry can be a very dark place.”
For the past three years, Regehr has served as senior trader for Plaza Home Mortgage, a residential lending firm headquartered in La Jolla, Calif. Though he’s not currently serving in a position of direct management, he finds himself providing wisdom and insight to those who are at his firm and others in the industry.
“By serving colleagues and other traders, and doing so with honesty, integrity, and love,” Regehr said, “I feel I’m doing God’s will.”
Manager of Global Promotions
Universal Orlando® Resort
A week in the life of Erica Hansen (03), manager of Global Promotions for Universal Orlando® Resort, a division of NBC Universal, could include flying from New York City to Florida, or to London, or to Brazil, and back again.
Hansen manages promotions for the Orlando theme park on national and international levels, including television, radio, print, retail, and packaged goods—as well as for each of the company’s promotion teams in New York City, London, Brazil, and Canada. Her work varies daily, and could include developing new partnership opportunities, executing a shoot at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, being on set to support the execution of promotions with the “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” or traveling with characters from “Transformers The Ride: 3D” to Atlanta for a market visit.
Over and above the excitement of her job, Hansen is most fulfilled when she is working one-on-one with her staff, three full-time employees who answer directly to her: a Universal Orlando global promotions coordinator, a representative, and a senior representative.
“Life’s too short to not be doing what you’re passionate about,” Hansen said. “I focus a lot of my time on the personal and professional development of my team, using my strengths and talents to grow people and help them find their passions.”
Hansen helps younger employees understand the environment of the entertainment industry, and assists those who know the ropes to feel empowered to make their own decisions. She keeps people’s unique capabilities and traits in mind, along with where they are in their career, to adjust her management style accordingly.
“Not everyone responds to the same approach,” Hansen explained. “Some respond well to tough love, a coaching style, and some would not respond well to that at all. I try to read personalities to find out how to build up each person. Ultimately, I want to ensure they have support, are provided with as many opportunities as possible, and are having fun.”
Sometimes, Hansen works on breaking down others’ barriers, which are often self-imposed by insecurities or fears. The entertainment industry can be competitive, and Hansen believes her faith keeps her centered on what’s important.
“A lot of people can get lost in the rat race and you have to remember you’re dealing with human beings,” Hansen said. “My faith combined with my environment has taught me a lot about compassion.”
Hansen graduated from PLNU with a bachelor’s degree in management and organizational communication in 2003, and a few years later she moved to New York City, where she worked for five years at Turner Broadcasting. She then shifted to her current role with Universal Orlando, and is coming up on her five-year anniversary.
Her career in marketing began at a prime time, as digital media was just beginning to take off, and for that, she is grateful. She understood that marketing content was rapidly moving deeper into the digital, social, and video spaces and this shift would highlight her unique working knowledge, which major companies needed, but established professionals were still learning.
“I’m now in a rare gem of a job that has opened up many opportunities for me,” Hansen shared. “I get to tangibly see the work that I’m a part of, when coming home and turning on the television, and I get to use my time and position to invest in my team members’ growth and development. It brings me a lot of happiness. I’m very blessed and fortunate.”
Hansen is on the board of directors for PLNU’s Business Alumni Auxiliary. She plans to help develop a mentorship program to connect PLNU alumni in numerous professions around the country with current students interested in benefiting from their wisdom and knowledge.
As you walk through Moniker Warehouse in downtown San Diego, you can feel inspiration brimming from every sewing machine, block of wood, and piece of material. From the outside back wall that reads “dream bigger,” to the wall overlooking the large creative space inside, beckoning onlookers to “live adventurously,” the building and people who occupy it are intentional with their time and creativity. Alumnus James Garcia (13) is one of those people.
Garcia joined Moniker Group as brand manager in 2013, soon after graduating from PLNU with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. He was drawn to the investment and design company’s dedication to “building people and the dreams that live inside them.”
Moniker’s 20,000-square-foot warehouse building includes a large creative room for startup companies to rent space for a low-overhead amount and work alongside each other; an event space and recording studio; a design and build area; and offices rented out by other organizations or used by the group.
“Moniker Group is trying to take a role of leadership in helping grow, connect, and foster the creative community in San Diego, and be a voice for that community with City Hall, developers, or people who wouldn’t have a chance to communicate with that community,” Garcia explained. “We want to facilitate a place for people to build their businesses, learn from one another, and have a chance to connect.”
As brand manager, Garcia oversees the company’s social media, and also ensures that the company’s projects fulfill its broader goals. He also finds ways Moniker can help other companies develop.
“We’ve found ourselves in this role—that God put us in—to be a voice,” Garcia shared. “The organization was started by a group of Christians and since then, we’ve drawn in a lot of Christians unintentionally, especially among our tenants. Having that foundation has helped us to be examples. There’s not a spirit of competition and negativity, but a spirit of encouragement. A rising tide lifts all ships. Our broader vision and long-term gains benefit everyone, not just our individual selves.”
One of the startups Garcia works with is David’s Harp, a nonprofit organization that teaches sound engineering and recording to at-risk and homeless youth through a program that exchanges grades for time in the studio at Moniker Warehouse.
“The impact they’re having on kids and their futures can’t be quantified,” Garcia shared, “especially because of the few options and opportunities those kids have.”
Garcia is on the organization’s board and helps by letting others know about David’s Harp, connecting the people involved to like-minded organizations, and finding ways for them to raise enough money to serve those who need help. Even though they have received donated instruments, their operating costs and rent have been difficult to maintain. Garcia invests his time and skills into empowering them to continue serving others.
Brandon Steppe, founder of David’s Harp, is thankful for Garcia and Moniker Group.
“James has a heart, not only for the Lord, but also for what we do,” Steppe shared. “It’s very humbling when somebody not only sees your vision but actively pursues it, and comes alongside you in times that are hard.”
“None of us are doing this to make a bunch of money,” Garcia said. “It’s more about our bigger purpose than financial gains. Even with our venue, we try to make the space accessible to nonprofits. At the end of the day, if there’s one thing Moniker is about, it’s about people, in everything we do. If we ever lose sight of that, we’ve failed in our mission.”
Clinical Nurse Specialist
Sharp Grossmont Hospital
“I have a four-year-old daughter who came home from Sunday school with a bar of soap and a little towel. She was sent to wash my husband’s and my feet. As she was doing it, I was trying to talk with her about the meaning of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, and other things you can do to help serve others. Almost every day, we have an opportunity to encourage or listen to somebody, or meet somebody’s needs. I think that’s washing somebody’s feet; it’s being a servant.”
To work in the healthcare industry inherently means to serve patients in need. As a clinical nurse specialist at Sharp Grossmont Hospital, Lindsey Ryan (05) isn’t only serving patients, but focusing more on serving those who serve, the 300 nurses she oversees and collaborates with daily.
Ryan mentors nurses and nurse units; advises them regarding their roles, patients, and needs; and advocates for nurses and patients in light of the hospital’s initiatives.
She received both her BSN and MSN degrees from PLNU, and worked at the VA for 10 years before beginning her position at Sharp Grossmont in 2013.
Ryan’s ultimate goal is to make sure patients have the best quality of care, focusing on team collaboration and cohesiveness. She also pays close attention to the gifts and talents of her team members.
“A lot of people have hidden gifts they’re not using,” Ryan said. “In my role, I get to help identify the gifts within them and bring them out to help develop them. I think that’s the most rewarding thing for me as a clinical nurse specialist—to see people succeed in doing what they love and using their gifts to the best of their ability.”
The mentoring Ryan received as an undergraduate and new nurse encouraged her to pursue her current position overseeing younger and seasoned nurses.
“I had older nurses come alongside me and identify my strengths and weaknesses, without making me feel bad about myself, but by pushing me to do better,” Ryan shared. “I try to embody that and mentor others as I’ve been mentored.”
To lead well, she chooses to empathize with her team members, putting herself in their shoes to understand their perspectives and see them succeed.
“It’s more important to me to be a part of the team as opposed to being over them,” Ryan said. “It’s not a hierarchical setup, but a collaborative movement. We’re focusing on our vision—the patient. We’re a team, and we’re all in this together.”
Ryan plans to further her education to pursue her doctorate. Her love for teaching, mentoring, and building relationships stems from relationships with her PLNU faculty, and she looks forward to being able to offer the same support to students hoping to become nurses one day.
Betty Kwan Chinn Day Center
Every morning, Mark Amacher (13) walks past the “Wall of Success” at the Betty Kwan Chinn Day Center in Eureka, Calif., a program of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Santa Rosa that provides case management supportive services, children’s services, health services, and stabilization services. The wall is filled with bright yellow paper stickers displaying the success stories of the center’s clients: men, women, and children experiencing homelessness.
For the past two years, Amacher has worked as program manager of the center, regularly advocating for the needs of these individuals to local government policymakers.
In addition to overseeing each of the center’s programs and services, including GED classes, coaching services, life skills and stress management workshops, and employment-ready classes, Amacher supervises three fulltime employees and 24 volunteers, and works one-on-one with hundreds of homeless men and women.
“We are focused on ways to help homeless individuals and families exit poverty, gain employment, receive transportation services, and more,” Amacher explained. “We’re part of a larger continuum of care and homeless plan in our community, and our main goal is to help people achieve more successful lives.”
For the clients he serves in transition, Amacher seeks to walk alongside them, despite the emotional toll.
“In social work, we’re a group of people trying to make a positive change in others’ lives, and it’s easy to get burned out,” Amacher said. “I try to create a supportive, safe environment in which people are valued, good self-care is taught, and people are listened to even if it’s to vent.”
Amacher remembers a client who was experiencing severe depression. He was living in the center’s transitional housing units, didn’t have a job like most of the residents, and according to Amacher, had a thin description of who he was. The narrative he told himself was filled with trauma and pain, and Amacher fought to help him find strength in his story. After a year of intensive case management, he was able to transition out to his own apartment and a stable job.
Recently, he ran into this man, and this time, it was Amacher who needed help. When Amacher called AAA for assistance, the man he previously worked with showed up in a tow truck. He now works with AAA and was able to use his position to serve Amacher in return.
In his work, Amacher has had his possessions taken and ruined. He’s been yelled at more times than he can count. He’s even been punched. But as challenging as his work can be, he chooses to have a sense of humor and to see his experiences in perspective.
“I’ve been extremely privileged in the places I’ve been and where I’m at in life,” Amacher said. “I have respect for people who are marginalized, and a responsibility to extend that privilege to others. This line of work takes having a genuine love for people, otherwise it just wouldn’t work.”
Amacher graduated from PLNU with a bachelor’s degree in social work. He attributes his success to PLNU professors who helped shape him, Dr. John Wright, professor of theology and Christian scripture, and Dr. Kevin Modesto, chair of the Department of Sociology and Social Work, in particular. Their one-on-one conversations challenged him, he said, and their patience and kindness has allowed him to experience patience in all relationships and areas of his life.