First Look: Age Diversity

As I see our newest group of interns gaining valuable experience at POET this summer, it’s a joy to witness their hope and optimism, their enthusiasm for this new experience of helping produce clean-burning ethanol. I was thinking on that recently, and it reminded me of the value each generation brings to our organization.

An often underappreciated aspect of diversity is that of age diversity. At POET we have a wide variety of people of all ages and levels of experience. That variety in itself provides us with a great recipe for success. Of course each person is an individual with his or her own personality and skill set, but I think it’s also clear that each generation has its own characteristics that make it unique from the others.

The Baby Boomers teach us the values of hard work and teamwork. The Generation Xers are so named because they declared their independence and are generally very adaptable and resilient. As I see this newest generation, dubbed the Millennials, making their mark, I’m impressed by their spirit and their firm grasp of the moral reasons that we press forward each day to produce more and more efficient renewable fuel for the world.

Some people take a negative view of the younger generations, and I have recently seen the Millennials taking a lot of criticism in the press for what some see as a lack of work ethic. I don’t see that in the Millennial team members at POET. What I do see is a group of people who may be motived by different things than the generations who came before them. Not that other generations don’t, but studies show that Millennials are looking for more than a paycheck as they have a very strong desire for mission and purpose in their work. They also want to be part of an organization that cares about their overall health and well-being.

There have been plenty of times when I thought my children’s generation was a little bit crazy. Then again, I know my parents thought the same thing about my generation. And I’d be willing to bet that more than one member of the Greatest Generation had sharp words about the Baby Boomers.

It seems that every generation is criticized by the one before it. Somehow despite that, every generation has added value to America and is part of the fabric that makes our nation so unique. We can certainly see that at POET. It is also clear in agriculture, as farming practices are passed on and then improved by each generation.

It energizes me when I see our younger team members attacking challenges and enthusiastically taking advantage of the opportunities life has to offer. I am excited when I see their ideas put into practice.

The personality of POET changes in subtle ways each year as fresh perspectives augment the years of experience and know-how that is already in place. No matter a person’s experience or age, there truly is something to learn from everyone. And I think this is good.




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