SEMA Member News—March/ April 2012
SEMA Show YEN Scholarship Recap
During the 2011 SEMA Show, the Young Executives Network (YEN) initiated a new program. The SEMA Show YEN Scholarship Program brought three young professionals to the annual trade show through a program aimed to help fund individuals’ travel expenses. The “scholarship” was made available to only SEMA- and YEN-member company employees who were under the age of 40. Participants were asked to participate in specific Show events (the Industry Awards Banquet, the YEN reception, educational seminars, etc.) as part of their obligation to SEMA and their employers.
The program funding included an airfare voucher worth up to $350 toward travel to and from Las Vegas; three nights’ hotel accommodation at a hotel of SEMA’s choosing; $50 per diem for three days at the Show; and three lunch vouchers.
The three winners of the SEMA Show YEN Scholarship Program were Justin Bird of Bully Dog, Matt Cartwright of Meyer Distributing and Antoinette Belton of Westin Automotive Products. Each represented different functions in their respective organizations, coming from the technical support, sales and marketing divisions of their SEMA-member companies. Each was enthusiastic regarding the networking opportunities presented to them and the openness of all of the SEMA members they spoke with at the Show.
“The point-of-view gained from networking is undoubtedly something you can’t learn anywhere else,” said Belton. “When you have a chance to speak to people on a one-to-one basis, you begin sharing experiences and ideas. And when you make a point to share logical knowledge, you can actually feel a sense of empowerment being exchanged.”
Cartwright was pleased by the wide cross-section of people who were available at the Show. “Everyone was very welcoming and inclusive,” he said. “I was able to mingle with people from all walks of the industry, including marketing, sales, logistics and manufacturing. I met importers, exporters and media personalities. It was a fantastic surprise to find this many different professions represented in one place.”
Each of the award winners was encouraged to go to various educational seminars that took place during the Show. All three found seminars that they believed gave added value. But it was the networking that Bird found most valuable.
“The contacts that we all made during the networking portion of the event shall be priceless,” he said. “I feel that was the best part of the entire thing. I meet people and made contacts that I would (never) have made in a normal day. I look forward to using the information learned to help myself and my company grow.”
Each of the three winners of the SEMA Show YEN Scholarship Program had nothing but praise regarding their overall experiences at the 2011 SEMA Show. “As my fellow YEN scholarship winners and I were attending a variety of meetings, breakfasts, banquets and seminars, I kept thinking about how amazing it is to be a part of the automotive aftermarket world,” said Belton.