Planning for 2030: The Future of Leadership
Grooming the Younger Workforce
Canvas takes a different approach by welcoming millennials, and it is now working to groom their younger workforce into future leaders.
Canvas is a government contractor headquartered in downtown Huntsville. The company has about 100 employees, 80 in Huntsville, and about 35 percent are millennials. Canvas CEO Jami Peyton founded the company in 2007 and said the movement to embrace younger team members started with internships.
“That was our most effective form of recruitment for college kids, and we were able to be very selective about who we decided to retain for long-term efforts, so we made sure our younger workforce matched our company ethos,” said Peyton. “Then we established a mentorship program early on to help grow that younger workforce into becoming professionals at the early stage of their career.”
“What we’re looking at now is how we groom our younger workforce into leaders,” Peyton added. “We figured the best way to work with them is to go ahead and put them into decision-making roles, and allow them the autonomy they need to grow in their permanent position.”
Jay Langiewicz, 33, and Andrew Melton, 30, are two of Canvas’ younger employees. Langiewicz joined the company in 2011, and Melton joined Canvas in 2015. Langiewicz now has a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Organizational Leadership & Behavior, and the company helped pay for both. Melton is now pursuing a Master’s paid for by Canvas.
“It wasn’t just the financials, because that’s a scary thing to do as a young man or a young person, to jump into a Master’s program because they’re expensive,” said Langiewicz. “Canvas helped take that roadblock down and helped encourage me to go do that, making that life decision I needed to make.”
“I’ll echo that,” added Melton. “There was one semester where I was going to take a break and Jami said ‘just take one class.’ As someone who has student loan debt from my bachelor’s… signing up to do something like a MBA, having that burden lifted, and the motivation to do it was invaluable.”
Scroggin said this kind of investment by a company pays off in several ways.
“Not only are they going after more education, they are also getting skills that are fresh and new that they can bring to the organization right now,” said Scroggin. “So, every day they go to class, they come back with some new concept, new theory, new idea that they’re bringing to the forefront. You want to definitely keep people in school — people you trust and want to make the investment in — because they’re going to be bringing in the freshest research, the freshest concepts, the freshest ideas.”
Langiewicz is now being mentored by the company’s president. “We see him moving into a larger capacity in his role,” Peyton said.