Young Professional: An Organization and a Title

A conversation with Doug Otto, 2019 YP Chairman

“The Young Professionals group provides an avenue for members to serve on a board, plan large scale events, network and learn from professionals in our community in a mentor relationship. These are opportunities that may not be encountered until much further in their career. Don’t miss out on your chance to grow and join Young Professionals!”

– Holly Nunn, Central Bancompany

Why are you taking time away from your business to be a part of YP? What is the value?

Networking and building relationships are both key aspects in helping grow my business (American Family Insurance – Douglas Otto Agency, LLC.). Unfortunately, or fortunately, my career doesn’t require much public speaking but since I became the 2019 YP Chair and speak each month in front of our membership, I have increasingly become more comfortable with public speaking and networking in general. That is just the tip of the iceberg of the things I have learned being involved with YP.

Do you have a favorite guest speaker from one of the monthly meetings?

After the relationship-building aspect of YP, this would be next on my list of things I enjoy most. Each month, we have a speaker that comes in and speaks on personal or professional development. The most impactful speaker that stands out was in December of 2018, when we had Santa B Pitman in to speak. What I thought was going to be a quick story about Santa Clause turned into a tear-jerking speech about overcoming anxiety, depression and the difference we can all make if we all tried to be more like Santa. In my time with the organization, this was the first standing ovation I had seen.

2019 is YP’s 10th Anniversary. How big was your membership 10 years ago?

We quickly blossomed in our first year to 229 members and again in another 3 years to over 400! During that time we established the Jeff City START Internship Program which still continues today. In an effort to become more financially independent and to engage our members, we started charging dues which reduced our membership to 200 actively engaged young professionals. Today, our membership continues to grow and are now able to contribute non-dues revenue to the Chamber budget each year.

How are you going to make a difference as the 2019 YP chair?

In 2019, we are going to continue to grow our membership and offer even more opportunities for individuals to get involved. I have spent a majority of my life in Jefferson City, and thought that I knew all about our community. YP has opened my eyes to so many amazing things happening in our city. I have been able to make long-term connections with so many community leaders through this fantastic program, which is what I want for others as well.