Meet the Charlotte Agenda 30 Under 30 — young people making an impact on our city

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OrthoCarolina

OrthoCarolina would like to extend our sincere congratulations to the 30 Under 30 class of 2016. Cheers to the young innovators making things happen and pushing Charlotte forward!


For years, Charlotte’s growth and culture were dominated by the “rich uncles” who ran the city’s big banks. No longer.

Young people are rushing into the city and leaving an indelible mark on Charlotte’s business, philanthropy, sports, food and music.

The Agenda set out to recognize 30 people who have made an impact on Charlotte before the age of 30. You, our readers, submitted scores of names. Our team discussed, debated and dissected the nominees for weeks before arriving at this list.

What emerged is a true cross-section of our city. The honorees include leaders at both startups and Fortune 500 companies, app designers and soda artisans, real estate rainmakers and writers.

Meet Charlotte Agenda’s first 30 Under 30:

Charlie Mulligan

Piloting a startup from Charlotte to the heart of Silicon Valley

charlie-mulligan

Title: CEO, BREWPUBLIK
Age: 27
Neighborhood: Dilworth
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Expect more of yourself! The simplest route to accomplishing anything is just to start. 21-year-old Charlie wasn’t ready to just go. 27-year-old Charlie is.
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything,” by Dov Seidman
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? Ownership. I started BREWPUBLIK because I wanted to create a company where truly everyone has a say, and everyone has control of their own contribution to our goals. Everyone is responsible for our shared success.
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Michael Praeger, CEO of AvidXchange.

Jeremy Olson

Designing beautiful apps that are mainstays atop Apple’s rankings

Jeremy-Olson

Title: Founder, Tapity
Age: 26
Neighborhood: Huntersville
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Overcome imposter syndrome — you will be surprised at how much people want to hear what you have to share
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “Tribes,” by Seth Godin
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? Since I’m an employer, I’ll flip this on its head. In an employee I look for 1) drive to do beyond what is asked of you, to challenge, to innovate; 2) personality – you have to be able to work well with people; 3) some aptitude for the skills we are looking for but, more importantly, ability and eagerness to learn.
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? I’ve gotten to know many great leaders in Charlotte but if I’m answering this honestly I would have to say that the one I look up to most is my dad, Todd Olson. I partnered with him five years ago on Tapity and have learned more from him than from anyone. He was also the one who fostered my entrepreneurial tendencies and interest in design and technology.

Khristian Gutierrez

Moving from investment banking to the startup world and landing mega clients around the country

Khristian-Gutierrez

Title: Chief Business Development Officer, Passport
Age: 27
Neighborhood: First Ward, Uptown
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? I would tell my “21-year-old self” the same thing I remind myself today: “It’s OKAY to pause and reflect on your accomplishments.” For as long as I can remember, I’ve always concentrated on “the next goal.” I haven’t often taken the time to pause, take a step back, and reflect on the lessons learned along the way. It’s easy to let the trees obscure the forest and allow yourself to be swept up in the next deliverable, meeting, quarter-end, or business expansion opportunity. But sometimes you just have to take a page from Big Sean and Drake and realize that you’re “blessed” to be in the position to stress about those things!
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “Choose Yourself!” by James Altucher
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? It’s important to find a workplace that values and respects individualism and solicits and incorporates feedback from employees at every level and function. The best workplaces constantly evaluate their processes to ensure that they’re effectively balancing the need to accomplish their short-term goals with a laser focus on their long-term vision. I’ve devoted myself to building a culture at Passport that values hard work and rewards accomplishment. We treat every individual with respect and know we have something to learn from every employee at the company. I would not work anywhere that didn’t share these core values.
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Don Rainey, General Partner, Grotech Ventures

Haley Bohon

Growing a business and helping people learn

haley-bohon

Title: Founder, SkillPop
Age: 26
Neighborhood: Sedgefield
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? This is something I’ve learned in the past few years and firmly believe – don’t follow the rules that aren’t there. Think you’re supposed to get a certain degree or get married at a certain age? Who says? Those aren’t real rules, and there isn’t one set way to find success or joy in life. Breaking the invisible rules of what I thought life was supposed to look like is the best thing I’ve ever done. 
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “How to Win Friends & Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? Doing work that matters. If you’re not aligned with and excited by the mission of a company, no amount of money or perks will help you enjoy getting up and going to work every day. 
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Kristina Burke and Blair Primis

Brooks Whiteside

Repurposing old buildings and driving $16 million in transactions

brooks-whiteside

Title: VP/Broker, Whiteside Industrial Properties
Age: 29
Neighborhood: Cotswold
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Hard work and persistence will pay off no matter what you do. Trust your gut and instincts even if experienced people tell you otherwise. As a backup plan to commercial real estate; learn how to brew beer and open a brewery in Charlotte with great outdoor space.
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “Why is your name upside down? Stories from a life in advertising,” by David Oakley
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? Overall the culture of where you work and who you work for is the most important. Work culture can have a tremendous affect on productivity, experience and the ability to advance income. I have had jobs where I hated going to work everyday and it’s very tough to advance your career, experience, or anything else in that situation.
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Hugh McColl. He has helped build Charlotte into what it is today. I don’t see leaders of Charlotte companies taking the initiative to improve the arts, economy, and quality of life here like he did.

Jonathan Jones

Owning the coverage of one of the NFL’s hottest teams

Jonathan-Jones

Title: Sports reporter, The Charlotte Observer
Age: 26
Neighborhood: Dilworth
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? You don’t know everything. In fact, you don’t know anything. You know nothing. Shut up and listen and you’ll better enjoy the best years of your life.
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “Between The World and Me,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Tom Sorensen

Colby Anderson

Making an iconic brand more relevant than ever

Colby-Anderson

Title: Digital Marketing Manager, Bojangles’ Restaurants Inc.
Age: 27
Neighborhood: South End
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Try to relax about the small stuff. Put that energy into the things that will matter 5 years from now. 
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “The Tao of Pooh,” by Benjamin Hoff
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? Integrity. I can’t give my all to a company that I don’t respect. 
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Reverend Benjamin Boswell, currently the senior minister at Myers Park Baptist Church

Kara Urquhart

Crafting Charlotte’s best sodas and sundaes

Kara-Urquhart

Title: Owner, Hart’s Soda Shop
Age: 27
Neighborhood: Plaza Midwood
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Live for today not for tomorrow.
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “How to Win Friends & Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? I look for my employer to be involved in the business from day to day, not someone who just oversees it. If a table needs more water they will refill it, if the phone rings they answer it. It shows the heart of the business.
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? I’m heavily influenced by other fellow small business owners like James Yoder from Not Just Coffee, Jeff Tonidandel from Crepe Cellar, and Aman Boyd, the original owner of Revolution Pizza.

Townes Mozer

Building an off-beat beverage business and an even better brand

townes-mozer

Title: Owner/brewer, Lenny Boy
Age: 28
Neighborhood: Dilworth
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Patience
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “Wild Fermentation,” by Sandor Katz
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? It’s all about the culture and creating a home away from home. 
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Jerry Richardson

Brian Schindler

Capturing beautiful photos that dominate your Facebook feed

Brian-Schindler

Title: Owner, Brian Schindler Photography
Age: 26
Neighborhood: Touchstone Village
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? If pain is a part of progress, then resilience is a side affect of pressing on. Don’t discredit what is difficult and pursue what makes you better, not just what may make life easier. 
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “Love Does,” by Bob Goff
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? I look for a work environment that pushes for collaboration and that encourages community. As well as an employer who values what I bring to the table as a person, not just a pair of hands.
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church

Ignacio Cassinelli

Dropping knowledge in the soccer and multicultural marketing worlds

Ignacio-Cassinelli

Title: Director of Digital Strategy, AC&M Group
Age: 27
Neighborhood: Uptown
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Work your a** off, but make time to take care of yourself. You’ll be the happiest when you can balance both.
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “The Defining Decade,” by DR. Meg Jay should be a must-read for every young adult in their 20s.
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? Culture that allows for personal growth and work-life balance
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Jaime Cardenas (founder and CEO at AC&M Group)

Andrew Wilen

Creating the next big culinary movement

Andrew-Wilen

Title: Co-Owner, Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen
Age: 30
Neighborhood: Elizabeth
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Don’t just network – connect, introduce yourself and ask questions. Arrive early and stay late. Always dress like a professional. Stay optimistic and enthusiastic. You don’t have to say yes to everything, but you’ll never improve until you can survive in a tough situation. Don’t complain about being tired… everyone is always tired. It’s part of growing up. Keep yourself amongst other positive, ambitious people.
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “How to Win at the Sport of Business,” by Mark Cuban
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? I’m a business owner – so I will answer what I look for in an employee. I look for a good attitude, customer service skills and the ability to think on your feet. I like people to always be smiling. Each of our staff members should represent our business and brand in the best way possible. Alyssa (age 31) and I do our best to lead by example with a mix of hard work, kindness, respect and enthusiasm.
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Darlene Heather (UCP)

Zack Kirchin

Becoming invaluable at a growing startup

Zack-Kirchin

Title: Director of Product and Curriculum, Tech Talent South
Age: 26
Neighborhood: Mooresville
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? I would tell myself, “It doesn’t matter, go for it!” I think often times when I was younger I would have ideas of things I would like to do, but would sell myself on “you don’t have enough knowledge or experience” to go after those things. I’ve learned over my professional career that the best way to learn is to jump in headfirst and immerse yourself in what you desire to do, and also that knowledge or experience doesn’t matter a whole lot, unless you want to be a doctor. 
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? If you are into startups, anything by Brad Feld is great.
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? The number one thing I look for in an employer is do I have the ability to learn and grow here? Are my bosses and colleagues able to mentor me, will they let me learn from them, and will they allow me to try new initiatives. If the other employees in the company are not people you will learn from and grow with, you’re in the wrong place. 
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? In the coding/development world, one person I really admire is Bermon Painter. Bermon is an incredibly talented and world renowned developer and is as humble as can be. He leads several organizations here in Charlotte, and everything he touches just screams amazing and quality. If you want to do things right, he is certainly someone to look up to.

Garret Mann

Bringing innovation to football analytics

Garret-Mann

Title: Football Administration Assistant, Carolina Panthers
Age: 25
Neighborhood: SouthPark
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Keep at it. Keep working toward your goals. You’ll only regret what you don’t attempt.
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “Rhinoceros Success,” by Scott Alexander

James “Elevator Jay” Blackmon

Putting Charlotte rap on the map

Elevator-Jay

Title: Music Artist/Producer
Age: 27
Neighborhood: West End
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? To make the same mistake twice is a choice. 
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “The 48 Laws Of Power,” by Robert Greene
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? Does he/she have my best interest at heart? 
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Diarra “DJ DR” Mayfield

Sara Abadi

Leading in Charlotte’s corporate and philanthropic worlds

Sara-Abadi

Title: Digital Marketing Lead, Sealed Air
Age: 29
Neighborhood: Dilworth
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Try not to obsess over job titles or brand-name companies. Just surround yourself with smart, awesome people who are passionate about what they do. Also, I know that pizza and tacos are delicious, but seriously Sara it wouldn’t kill you to eat a salad every now and then. 
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “Bossypants,” by Tina Fey. Tina (as I like to call her because I met her once and therefore am on a first name basis, obviously) manages to weave life lessons — such as how to accept failure — together seamlessly with relatable stories about awkward teen years and humbling first jobs. The basic rules of improv she evangelizes throughout the book — like speaking assertively or seeing mistakes as “happy accidents” — are incredibly easy to begin applying in your own career from the minute you finish the last page.
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? For me, people are everything. The worst team can ruin even the coolest job. I’m so lucky to work with marketing and communications rock stars who are talented, supportive, and make coming to work fun. I clicked with my boss within the first minute of my interview. I was blown away by her passion and her vision for the kind of team she wanted to build and the impact and influence she wanted us to have on the business. I left thinking “I don’t care what my role is, but I want to be on her team!” Seek out a boss and a team who help you learn, grow, and make you better every day.
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Kelly Brooks, founder of Share Charlotte, inspires me with the innovative ways she creates investment – both emotional and financial – in our community. She isn’t content just to raise money — she wants every donor and every volunteer to feel passionately connected to the causes and organizations they support. As a self-professed digital nerd, I love the way she leverages social media to increase her reach and instigate change in our community. In 2015 Share Charlotte’s #GivingTuesdayCLT campaign raised over $4 million for 108 local non-profits — those are the kind of results that any leader can be proud of.

Jai N. Patel

Breaking ground in cancer research

Jai-Patel

Title: Chief, Pharmacology Research, Phase I Trials – Levine Cancer Institute
Age: 30
Neighborhood: Ballantyne
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Always surround yourself by people smarter than you, never stop networking, and focus more on what you want to do rather than what you should do. 
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “Being Mortal,” by Atul Gawande
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? Opportunities for growth and leadership
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Dr. Derek Raghavan, MD, PhD, President, Levine Cancer Institute, Carolinas HealthCare System

Brittney Bogues

Bringing home signature events and national exposure

Brittney-Bogues

Title: Community Outreach Coordinator, Safe Alliance
Age: 29
Neighborhood: South Charlotte
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? I would tell myself to believe in yourself, work hard and don’t overthink things. Focus on your gut instincts and what makes you most happy. Lastly, let your actions speak louder than your words and trust in your faith. 
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “The Alchemist,” by Paulo Coelho
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? The one thing I look for in an employer is the way they speak about their company and the work they do. I look for honesty, passion and drive for progress and if they display these things I know that it’s a great culture and environment that creates opportunities to thrive. 
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Whitni Wertz

Erica Jordan-Thomas

Leading a school that’s setting a blistering pace in student growth

Erica-Jordan-Thomas

Title: Principal, Ranson IB Middle School
Age: 29
Neighborhood: University
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “Year of Yes,” by Shonda Rhimes 
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? I greatly value an employer who values authentic leadership. Maintaining two identities, one at work and one outside of work, is exhausting and leading others is already hard work. When you are true to yourself and your core values, the celebrations are sweeter, the feedback is richer, and you stay grounded in your happiness. I believe this is key to being an effective leader. 
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? My boss, Dr. Denise Watts, Project L.I.F.T. Learning Community Superintendent. She exemplifies authentic leadership, is unwavering in her expectations for adults and kids, and incredibly supportive. She makes everyone around her better, including me.

Hallie Kilmer Cornetta

Driving the growth at a rapidly expanding company

hallie-kilmer-2

Title: Vice President of Human Capital, Red Ventures
Age: 29
Neighborhood: Quail Hollow
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Don’t underestimate the value of an incredible support network of family, friends and coworkers – and be sure you’re adding as much value to them as they are to you.
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “Mindset,” by Carol Dweck
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? GREAT PEOPLE! Incredibly talented, curious and motivated teammates within a collaborative culture.
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Shannon McFayden

Sarah Reeves

Strengthening a vital neighborhood school

Sarah-Reeves

Title: Principal, Shamrock Gardens Elementary School
Age: 28
Neighborhood: Mallard Creek
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Know who you are, be true to yourself, and spend every day discovering what you were created to do.
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change,” by Joseph Grenny
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? I have always sought out a workplace in which I am allowed to do what I do best every day. I consistently seek opportunities to work with leaders that allow me to be true to myself, to think outside the box, to take risks, and to learn from my mistakes. Finally, I always strive to find a workplace where I am surrounded by a diverse group of individuals that are equally passionate about the work of serving children and communities. 
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? N.C. Sen. Jeff Jackson, for always being an advocate for children and supporting our public schools.

Amanda Pickens

Helping businesses and nonprofits grow

Amanda-Pickens

Title: Associate, Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson, P.A. 
Age: 29
Neighborhood: Uptown
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Don’t rush growing up and take time to travel. An extra month or year to travel the world will not stunt your career development. You can still achieve your career goals early in life, but slow down a little to explore. Some of your best memories in life will come while you are discovering another culture. 
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “18 Minutes,” by Peter Bregman. It is a practical guide to increasing your productivity. I also recommend StrengthsFinder because it helps you focus your career around your true talents.  
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? A high retention rate of talented people. I accepted an offer from my law firm because I was looking for a place where I could practice law for my entire career with colleagues who shared the same goals. Great pay, a unique culture, a collaborative environment, associate development, and sophisticated, diverse legal work are all factors that lead to great job satisfaction. Folks at Robinson Bradshaw are happy with their careers and our culture, which is reflective in the firm’s high retention rates. 
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Rob Harrington. He has generously donated his talents to the Charlotte community by serving as the president of the Mecklenburg County Bar, on the boards of the Arts & Science Council, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, The Greater Charlotte Cultural Trust, Levine Museum of the New South, Legal Aid of North Carolina, and many others. His commitment to social justice, increasing diversity, and providing pro bono legal services to our neighbors in need has earned him the Julius L. Chambers Diversity Champion Award, Thurgood Marshall College Fund Award of Excellence, and many others. In short, Rob is an exceptional litigator with unquestionable integrity and a heart dedicated to service, and I’m lucky to call him my friend.

Taralynn McNitt

Defining taste in Charlotte food and fitness

Taralyn-McNitt

Title: Lifestyle Blogger, Simply Taralynn
Age: 25
Neighborhood: Fort Mill
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? It’s OK to be a little selfish now and then. Focus on what makes YOU happy and what YOU are capable of doing without anyone standing in your way. Surround yourself with positive people that bring inspiration and growth to the table. Don’t race to grow up and avoid comparing yourself to others. You’re young enough to make mistakes and young enough to fix them. It’s more fun to be imperfect, so venture out and do things out of the norm. 
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World,” by Adam Grant
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? When I’m working with new companies, I make sure we have the same beliefs. I can’t endorse products or events that I don’t love or think my readers will love. 
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Chef Alyssa

Terry Brown Jr.

Creating a vision in law and politics

Terry-Brown

Title: Litigation Attorney, Horack Talley Pharr & Lowndes
Age: 29
Neighborhood: Historic Camp Greene (FreeMoreWest)
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Follow your own internal compass and stay focused. Don’t try to emulate anyone else’s success. You have all the tools you need to be unapologetically great–you just have to make it happen.  
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? It might be cliche, but “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell is an excellent insightful read. 
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? There is nothing that compares to a work environment where you are able to work alongside and learn from the sharpest minds in your field. As someone in the early stages of my career the ability to grow and learn from others is invaluable. 
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? There’s so many great leaders — young and old — in Charlotte but the ability to have an impact on a city for decades like Harvey Gantt is something I strive to emulate.

Justin Garton

Coaching businesses big and small

Justin-Garton

Title: Consultant, Partner, Owner @ DHG, Social Venture Partners, Joe’s Doughs, Agile Coaching Network 
Age: 25
Neighborhood: South End
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Stay away from Montford
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “Eat that Frog,” by Brian Tracy
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? Leaders and management with an entrepreneurial mindset
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? David Chadwick

Lizbeth Rangel

Innovating from the classroom

Lizbeth-Rangel

Title: Student/Outbound Rotary Youth Exchange Student: Taiwan
Age: 17
Neighborhood: East Charlotte (Eastway and Central)
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Continue to follow your dreams, live out your passions. Make the impossible, possible. Remember that your only limitations are those you impose on yourself. Whether everyone or no one believes in you, remember you believed in yourself first. Take risks, challenge yourself, continue to grow and never stop learning. You have so much potential that has yet to be discovered. Don’t forget those who helped you on this journey, pass on the blessings that others have given you. Remain humble, stand up for what’s right. Throughout it all remember to always be the best version of you, and only you.
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Sharon Jones (2015 STEM Leader of the Year and my mentor)

Eli Kahn

Connecting nonprofits to Charlotte’s most influential foundation

Eli-Kahn

Title: Community Programs & Civic Leadership Associate, Foundation For The Carolinas
Age: 25
Neighborhood: Dilworth
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? 1) I’m a planner, so I always like to think three steps ahead, but I’ve quickly realized that there are too many variables in the world that are out of your control (professionally, personally, socially). Plans need to be receptive to change on the fly and its important to be able to adapt quickly while moving forward. 2) Trust your gut. If something feels right, go for it and don’t second guess yourself.
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “The Road to Character,” by David Brooks
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? I’ve only had one full-time employer — Foundation For The Carolinas — for my entire (short) professional career, but I love its fast-paced business-like culture where everyone still feels like we are making a difference in the community by supporting philanthropists and the nonprofit community.
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Dee O’Dell. I’ve gotten to know Dee over the past year and a half through work. While managing his professional life as a Senior Vice President at US Bank, he has jumped wholeheartedly into transforming Charlotte into a more equitable community with equal economic opportunity for all through his leadership as co-chair of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force. His calm demeanor, ability to juggle insanely busy schedules and optimism is truly inspiring.

Varian Shrum

Making Charlotte a true “place”

Varian-Shrum

Title: Community Development Associate, Charlotte Center City Partners
Age: 27
Neighborhood: South End
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Post-grad life is middle school 2.0 but you’ll hit your stride in due time. To paraphrase Andi Stevenson at TedxCLT, you can become an expert at anything if you’re willing to be a rookie for a little while.
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “Happy City,” by Charles Montgomery
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? Potential for growth now and in the future. Are there opportunities for me to take on new challenges and responsibilities in the short-term? Is the employer’s industry growing in a long-term, big picture sense?
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Tracy Dodson. Leader/mother/mentor extraordinaire. #whoruntheworld

Jason Rome

Creating technology by day, music by night

Jason-Rome

Title: Senior Engagement Manager, Skookum
Age: 27
Neighborhood: South End
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? First off I’d say visit your family and call your parents every chance you get. Second I’d say don’t try to do everything all at once. It’s okay to slow down. It’s easier to be effective by focusing on what’s most essential and it takes time to figure out what that is. Finally I’d say do whatever it takes to buy real estate in Dilworth and start a brewery as soon as possible.
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “Thinking Fast and Slow,” by Daniel Kahneman
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? Strong leadership especially in a direct manager. Working with good managers, leaders and mentors has been extremely valuable for my career. I’ve been lucky to work with a lot of people who genuinely cared about my development and have been great teachers.
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Mike Griffin

Criseida Rico

Blending fashion and technology

Criseida-Rico

Title: Marketing Manager, Speed Digital
Age: 27
Neighborhood: SouthPark
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self? Stop comparing yourself to others! Comparison is the thief of joy – YOU can and will make something of yourself when the time is right. Along the way, you will make mistakes and you will fail. But it’s only to make you stronger, better and wiser for what’s to come. Get out of your comfort zone, talk to strangers and listen to your gut! Most importantly, cherish your family. Friends will always come and go.
What book do you recommend to other young leaders? “The Woman I Wanted to Be,” by Diane von Furstenberg
What’s one thing you look for in an employer? A job should not define you, and it certainly should not confine your abilities as a human, you are not a robot. That is why I look for culture, a place of welcoming that offers challenging opportunities to not only excel at what you’re good at, but to also learn more about your capabilities as a person. I’m attracted to forward-thinking companies that want to make their mark on the future of society.
What local Charlotte leader do you look up to? Mike Watson

 

Editor’s note: A few members of our list turned 30 since we put out the call for nominations. We decided not to hold it against them.

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