GE is harnessing the optimism and digital know-how of this generation with a “reverse mentoring” program in which executives are mentored by a Millennial who teaches them about social media and other elements of the interactive world. “What I love about this program is that it's good for both sides,” Boff said.
At Molex Inc., a manufacturer of connectors for use in electronics, Brian Krause, the company's VP-global marketing and communications, placed a Millennial—Meni Bougiotopoulos, now 34—in charge of social media about two and a half years ago. Bougiotopoulos, whose job title is Internet marketing specialist, started at Molex in inside sales. “I was looking for something different, and just the idea of [social media] was very interesting to me,” he said.
Bougiotopoulos, who remembers playing Pong, the original video game, as a toddler, has helped oversee Molex's blog, “Connector.” He has also helped lead the company onto Twitter (where it has more than 2,000 followers) and YouTube (where its videos have had more than 200,000 views). Molex is also using a Chinese video-sharing site to make sure its social media presence is felt overseas.
In addition to populating social media with Molex content, Bougiotopoulos monitors Molex's brand in social media. This social media listening yielded positive results in at least one instance, he said.
“We had an issue with a plant closing,” Bougiotopoulos said. “I was able to notify our people that there was going to be a protest at a shareholder meeting.”
CREE's Merritt, who hired Skalski away from a local television station where she was handling social media efforts, said her outlook and skills have been a perfect fit with CREE's culture, which he describes as a “25-year-old startup.” He added, “It's pretty much "figure out what you want to do and go do it.' ”
In addition to giving CREE a strong presence on YouTube, Skalski has expanded the company's Facebook and Twitter efforts. But Merritt declined to attribute her success to the accident of her birth year. “I try not to categorize people much based on their generation,” he said. “I find it's never accurate.”