Young professionals group makes a splash in Nashua

Young professionals group makes a splash in Nashua

Galvin, Lindsay

On Sept. 27 at Rivier College, college graduates and young professionals got one more reason to stay in New Hampshire – and, more specifically, Nashua.

IUGO, a new young professionals group in the city, began its work of counteracting the recent trend of a departing young New Hampshire workforce by launching a series of professional development programs. And it started with some star power – a guest lecture by Tarek Saab, a young entrepreneur and member of the cast of the fifth season of “The Apprentice” who also happens to be a Saint Anselm College graduate.

IUGO (pronounced “you-go”) is Latin for “to connect,” and that is exactly what IUGO strives to do. It’s an organization that tries to connect young professionals living and working in the greater Nashua area with other young professionals, prospective employers and the greater Nashua community.

It is an initiative undertaken by the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce to create, as stated by Chris Williams, the chamber’s CEO and president, “a proactive and positive solution to addressing a growing concern within southern New Hampshire involving the brain drain phenomenon that all of New England is currently experiencing”

The “brain drain” has been gaining the attention of New Hampshire businesses policymakers since recent reports concluded that not only is New Hampshire’s workforce aging, but it is also losing its young workforce at a troubling rate.

Specifically, the exodus involves students who receive their college education in New Hampshire and, after they graduate, leave the state, taking their new learned skills and knowledge with them. A little more than half of this population leaves the state annually, according to the University System of New Hampshire.

Williams believes it is imperative to make an effort to retain that educated workforce in New Hampshire, and he wants to open that discussion with the young professionals themselves.

IUGO’s professional development programming “is intended to provide unique opportunities for young professionals to develop their professional skills, while simultaneously connecting them to community leaders and engaging them in high-level discussions about the direction of the southern New Hampshire region,” he said.

‘A homecoming’

The series is made up of three parts:

* A guest lecture series, which will feature high-profile speakers influential in political, business, social and pop culture circles who will share their experiences and insights with members

* CEO Roundtables, a monthly series connecting young professionals who are in their 30s and early 40s to CEOs and business owners throughout greater Nashua

* Young Professional Seminars, a bimonthly series focusing on key issues and concerns facing young professionals today, such as how to buy a first home, where to go for long-term financial planning and how to improve one’s resume and interview skills.

In its fourth month of operation, IUGO has been hosting social events as it tries to gain buzz in the community. Williams opened the first guest lecture by introducing Saab and announcing that the guest lecture series was bringing a “new dimension” to IUGO, one that is “professionally oriented?’

After he took the podium, Saab – who grew up in New Bedford, Mass. – called the appearance “a homecoming?”

More than 60 people turned out to hear the 10-round “Apprentice” survivor speak. Williams said he was the perfect person to kick off the series.

Although in the end his talk had little to do with “The Apprentice” (other than confirming that, yes, Donald Trump’s hair is real), Saab captivated the audience with his experiences as a young professional at Texas Instruments and his dream at the time of one day having “financial flexibility?’

That dream, however, changed when he realized he had lost sight of what he really wanted out of a career, he said. It wasn’t early retirement anymore – since, as he put it, “I don’t know a single billionaire who doesn’t work anymore?’

Listening to Saab work through his own career goals, reconfigurations and moral struggle proved to be much more valuable to the young professionals than tales of TV sensationalism.

“I was expecting it to be about ‘The Apprentice,’ but he really went above and beyond,” said Nashua Alderman Mark Cookson, a member of the IUGO steering committee.

Questions from the audience covered such topics as balancing career and family and how would Saab the billionaire be different from Trump the billionaire.

When asked about his thoughts on a resource such as IUGO, Saab quickly replied that nothing can take the place of networking when it comes to career building.

Rhonda Della Sala, health-care recruiter at St. Joseph’s Hospital – sponsor of the event – also spoke about her personal experience of using IUGO to find a young medical imaging professional and how that young man used IUGO to find friends in Nashua These are the venues in which Williams hopes IUGO will pick up speed – as a recruitment tool for Nashua companies as well as a networking program.

To learn more about IUGO, visit iugonashua.com.

Copyright Business Publications Inc. Oct 12, 2007

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