Nominations Are Open for the 40 Under Forty Class of 2016
Ten years. Four hundred names. Incalculable impact.
When BusinessWest unveils the 40 Under Forty class of 2016 in April (nomination form HERE), it will celebrate 10 years of introducing readers to the most accomplished and inspiring young professionals in Western Mass. — with no end in sight to that pipeline (40 Under Forty Past Honorees HERE).
“I’m totally impressed by how many young leaders are here,” said Jeffrey Sattler, president of NUVO Bank & Trust Co., one of five judges of last spring’s class of 2015. “Many are not necessarily known in the community, but they’re doing incredible things.”
The judges’ jobs have become increasingly difficult over the years; the past two groups of nominees were the largest in the program’s first nine years, and BusinessWest hopes for — and expects — a similar surge of interest for the class of 2016.
“I was amazed at how many applicants there were last year,” Sattler said. “The judges were from different walks of life, with their own perspectives — I’m from a finance background, while someone else may have been from the nonprofit world — but we came to similar conclusions on a lot of people.”
One of the strengths of the program, said Peter Ellis, president of DIF Design in Springfield and a member of the class of 2011, is that it focuses on all sectors of the economy, from the trades to white-collar careers to nonprofits. “This is a highly talented region, and this showcases that. There’s a certain level of prestige being known as part of the 40 Under Forty; it really propelled my personal brand and the brand I represent.
“It was flattering,” he said of his selection almost five years ago. “It wasn’t the first year, and by then it was considered a prestigious honor. People were aware of what the award was, so it was great to be part of that class.”
As president of the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield (YPS) — which counts dozens of members among the past decade’s honorees — Ellis can testify that being named to the 40 Under Forty is a coveted prize.
“YPS is the perfect demographic for this, not only from an age perspective, but where they are in their careers and the energy and vision they carry with them,” he said. “The winners are obviously from different backgrounds, but there’s a synergy to what our mission is at YPS and how we serve our membership.”
This year will also mark the return of the Continued Excellence Award, the winner of which will be unveiled at the 40 Under Forty gala on June 16.
Last year, BusinessWest inaugurated the award to recognize past 40 Under Forty honorees who had significantly built on their achievements since they were honored. The five finalists for that award last year were Kamari Collins, Jeff Fialky, Cinda Jones, Kristin Leutz, and the eventual winner, Delcie Bean IV.
“So many 40 Under Forty honorees have refused to rest on their laurels,” said Kate Campiti, associate publisher of BusinessWest. “We wanted to honor those who continue to build upon their strong records of service in business, within the community, and as regional leaders. Last year’s five finalists have certainly done that, and we expect this year’s nominees to be equally inspiring.”
Whether nominating someone for the 40 Under Forty class of 2016 or for the Continued Excellence Award, however, Sattler was quick to note the importance of thoughtful, complete nomination forms.
“Some forms last year lacked enough information for me to judge them higher; they lacked meat,” he said. “Because we’re assessing so many candidates, someone might be hurt if their application is either incomplete or doesn’t provide enough detail.
“If they’re going to take the time to nominate someone,” he went on, “bring out as much information as possible — not just their education and work experience, but what they do in the community and who they are as a person. This might be a great business résumé, but what else do they do? There are so many different ways to look at a candidate that might help a judge.”
Campiti agreed. “That’s where it starts, with the nomination,” she explained. “It needs to be complete, it needs to be thorough, and it needs to essentially answer the question, ‘why is this individual worthy of a 40 Under Forty plaque?’”
The nomination forms for both awards request basic information, said Campiti, and can be supported with other material, such as a résumé, testimonials, and even press clippings highlighting an individual’s achievements in their profession or service to their community. Nominations must be received by the end of the business day (5 p.m.) on Feb. 12 for the class of 2016, and April 1 for the Continued Excellence Award.
Separate panels of independent judges will score nominations for both awards. The 40 Under Forty class of 2016 and the five Continued Excellence Awards finalists will be notified by mail by the end of February.
This year’s group of 40 will be profiled in the magazine’s April 18 edition, then toasted at the June 16 gala, always a can’t-miss, standing-room-only event, Campiti said. The identity of the Continued Excellence Award winner will be kept under wraps — even from the honoree — until that date as well.
Sattler said the diversity of the nominees was perhaps what impressed him the most when tasked with judging close to 150 entries last year.
“We looked at males, females, from a number of industries — it’s a true picture of how our business climate is developing, and it’s impressive,” he said, placing particular emphasis on the many entrepreneurs honored over the years, and the types of challenges they had to overcome to launch and sustain their enterprises — which, again, should be part of the story told in the nomination packets.
“Many people don’t realize what it takes to be successful; they impressed me,” he said of last year’s class. “I’d be proud to have any of these 40 working with me on a board of directors. And I hope they provide added motivation to others to become leaders in the community.”
Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]