The Next Generation
Kate Simonfay, APPA’s associate manager of exhibitor services and one of the leaders of the association’s Young Professionals network, discusses the new group’s purpose and its involvement at Global Pet Expo this year.
Can you tell us a bit about the origins of the Young Professionals group? How did it get started and what was the motivation behind it?
Kate Simonfay: We were volunteering our time as co-vice chairs to a young professionals committee for the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE). The success we have seen in our time with this group has opened our eyes to the fact that this might translate well into the pet industry.
In our five years with the American Pet Products Association (APPA), we have noticed a significant increase in young professionals attending Global Pet Expo. We want these young professionals to feel a connection to the industry on a personal level, thus creating the APPA Young Professionals network. Young professionals are of great importance to the future growth of the pet industry.
Who will be leading the group?
Simonfay: I will be leading the group with Sarah Bopp, booth sales and operations manager. In the past few years, APPA has brought on some more young professionals and we are all excited to be involved.
The YP network is fairly new, but are there any events or programs that it is already involved with? What has the response been from the industry so far?
Simonfay: Our official debut will be at Global Pet Expo 2016, where we will co-sponsor the Professional Women’s Network (PWN) Breakfast. Currently, we are focusing our efforts on this event’s success. Also, the APPA Young Professionals will host a meet-up on the show floor during Global Pet Expo to promote our network and the PWN Breakfast.
Through trade publications and other industry events, we have started to recruit and receive inquiries regarding the APPA Young Professionals network. All individuals seem eager to participate in any way possible.
What is the group’s overall mission?
Simonfay: The APPA Young Professionals’ mission is to promote career path development of young professionals in the pet industry through networking opportunities.
What goals or planned events does the group have for the upcoming year?
Simonfay: In the future we plan to explore more events and networking opportunities beyond Global Pet Expo to engage our network throughout the entire year.
The breakfast this year is a collaboration with APPA’s Professional Women’s Network (PWN). This seems like a fitting partnership. How did this collaboration evolve, and in what ways does this benefit members?
Simonfay: This was a great opportunity for the networks to work and grow together. As young professionals who were already involved in the PWN, we thought a collaboration was necessary being that both groups can learn from one another. With the formation of a partnership, experienced women in the industry, whom we hope will act as mentors to the APPA Young Professionals (YPs), are also learning from these young professionals who bring in new perspectives and ideas. In regards to the celebrity guest, Christie Rampone, she exemplifies an empowered female professional so it is the right fit for both the PWN and YP network. Christie is experienced in her professional soccer career and acts as a role model to all generations.