Program Bolsters Young Professionals’ Careers

R. Scott Simon of Simon Leadership speaking about mentoring at a YP Professional Development Class

R. Scott Simon of Simon Leadership speaking about mentoring at a YP Professional Development Class

Once, during a luncheon through The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii Young Professionals (YP) program, realtor Christina Laney Wycheck was seated next to Catholic Charities director Jerry Rauckhorst. The two struck up a conversation, which continued after the event, and soon, Catholic Charities was collaborating with Laney Wycheck to produce her seminar for senior-specific real estate concerns.

“That partnership really took off,” recalls Laney Wycheck. “It’s a really good relationship that definitely stems from YP.”

But really, Laney Wycheck says, this type of connection is nothing out of the ordinary: Encounters like this happen all the time at YP.

Open to individuals between ages 21 to 39, the program was launched by The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii in 2011 — it celebrated its fourth anniversary last week at The Republik — as a way to facilitate collaborations between young professionals, help them further their careers and connect them with local business leaders.

“The YP program has been integral in fostering valuable connections between Hawaii’s upand-coming leaders, as well as providing an insider’s look at Hawaii’s business scene,” explains Chamber of Commerce Hawaii director of events and special projects and YP program director Matt Spencer. “Through the program, we’ve witnessed that many have made business connections that have, in turn, generated new job opportunities, increased personal and business networks, and developed a community of support. Many of the YPs have also made lasting relationships with our mentors, which have spurred other collaborative business endeavors and projects.”

YP hosts a number of events for professional development and mentorship, as well as networking opportunities and community service activities. Events include the monthly, members-only Exec Connect luncheon, where Laney Wycheck met Rauckhorst.

“With groups limited to no more than 10 individuals per table (at Exec Connect), this format encourages participation, as well as meaningful one-on-one conversation,” Spencer says.

Each month, over an informal breakfast, YP also holds Professional Development Classes that are open to the public. Led by local business leaders, these sessions discuss topics such as teamwork, work-life balance, career changes and more.

The luncheon and the classes not only connect young workers launching their careers with experienced experts, but they also bring a wide range of industries together — including education, health, retail, tourism, technology, finance and more.

“We get to meet these people that we would never normally interact with,” Laney Wycheck says. “You get to network with a variety of people — and you can also learn from the different sectors.

“That is an opportunity that you just don’t get regularly,” she adds.

Then, there are the fringe benefits of membership. YP activities are powered by its volunteers, providing them opportunities to develop skills that are not necessarily related to their day jobs, such as event planning or public relations.

“I initially wanted to get involved because I wanted to learn how to comfortably network with other people,” Laney Wycheck says.

Now, through going to YP events and organizing activities, Laney Wy-check has transformed into an veteran networker — these days, she’s the one who’s making the introductions to help others forge mutually beneficial connections.

While all of these skills may benefit YPs as individuals, it’s about the bigger picture, too.

“This, in turn, will benefit Hawaii overall and ensure that our next generation of leaders have the tools, resources and connections they need to thrive and contribute to the community,” Spencer says.

For more information about the YP program and how to get involved, visit