The 10-Foot Gap of 113 Industries
Working in a unique collaboration of C-Suite and young Millennials.
Written by Rachel Wozniak
It’s 2pm. I’m taking a break from reading data to check the Skimm and respond to a few “ugh, it’s Monday” Snapchat messages while my CEO sits 10 feet away from me on one of his usual afternoon calls with executives from the CPG industry. Heinz, this time. Welcome to our office.
A Young Company in a Historical Space.
Walking into 113 Industries for my interview was like walking on my college campus for the first time, or opening the door to my dream home. I knew this was where I needed to be. It was an incredible juxtaposition – the clean modern office tucked inside an old Pittsburgh train station, now a city landmark. I was immediately taken with the view of the Pittsburgh skyline, easily visible from any point in the office, and became enamored by the idea of sitting down to work at one of those dry-erase desks every day. Walking out of the antique halls brimming with history and into the whiteboard-covered walls instantly motivated me to see what could be created on those blank canvases lying in the midst of so many memories.
A Dynamic Combination.
After I joined, I began to understand that the physical office space wasn’t the only unique junction here. As an entry-level employee, I was working in the same room as another associate, my manager, the CEO and the President. Even though we had other rooms to occupy, our CEO insisted we all sit together. I had never worked in an open-office atmosphere before, let alone been in such a collaborative space with senior executives. The ability to openly converse and share ideas took away the distance and nerves that most new employees feel. It was the same whether I wanted to ask my coworker about her dinner last night or ask the CEO what he needed for critical client work – casual but down-to-business. Traditional barriers just didn’t exist in a way I’d never experienced before.
From a personal standpoint, I can confidently say that I’ve gotten unique opportunities from this type of work and office environment that none of my friends have gained from their careers. When you’re in a small environment with no barriers, it naturally leads to a heightened level of interaction. Individual attention from senior-level coworkers with such expertise has helped me to quickly adjust, succeed and grow in ways that a more structured company could never have given me. Feedback is never just about fixing a color on Powerpoint, but about actually learning, debating and questioning actions to further benefit client and business work.
On the flip side, as a Millennial, I’ve come to see that we also bring a new perspective to the C-suite with our ability to help branch them out from more traditional thoughts and practices. Whether it’s flex office hours, introducing them to hashtags or questioning practices that have become dated, this open environment taught me to speak up and gave me a platform where C-suite was open to listening. It wasn’t about the fact that I was 23 and they were 50+. It was about the fact that, at the end of the day, we are all here for the same reasons and everyone needs to learn.
An article from the Wall Street Journal states, “Millennials could be the C-suite’s secret weapon for innovation.” The article discusses our “Why not?” attitude towards problems that others say cannot be solved. Having many opportunities to brainstorm with the founders of the company, I can absolutely attest to this. Ideas are never shot down. However impossible an idea may seem or how difficult a problem to solve, we become determined to find creative ways to find the solution.
From first-hand experience, I can say that this dynamic is a big factor in why 113 continues to expand and generate success after success with some of the nation’s biggest companies. As we look outwards, the pairing of senior leaders with new employees is evident throughout many organizations – offering services such as two-way mentoring programs or weekly meetings to directly ask execs questions. However, this true one-on-one collaboration is hard to find on such an individual level anywhere else, making 113’s working environment as unique as it’s process.