Northeast Wisconsin could do more to attract and retain Millennials and the creative class, says a Green Bay businessperson whose young company is making a name for itself nationally.
“I’m part of this generation that has very different habits about choosing where we live and how we live, but also what we buy,” says Ashley Prange, CEO of Au Naturale Cosmetics, who employs about 30, many in their 20s. “Eighty-eight percent of Millennials live in urban areas, change jobs every two years to work where they feel challenged; they like to work from home, have more vacation vs. more pay and they’re incentivized in different ways, too.”
Prange will address such issues in her talk, “Millennials in the Marketplace,” on Nov. 2, kicking off the 2016-17 season for the St. Norbert College CEO Breakfast & Strategy Series.
The St. Norbert CEO Breakfast & Strategy Series brings top business leaders from regional and national companies to talk about how they’ve steered their companies successfully through challenging times and a changing business climate. Networking is an important part of the experience, and business leaders are encouraged to invite young members of their executive teams for the insights and connections they will make.
A 2005 St. Norbert College graduate with a degree in political science, Prange launched her business in Washington in 2011 after working as an analyst for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. While in D.C., she developed an interest in creating a line of cosmetics free of toxins, appealing to those with sensitive skin, such as herself. Through her job, she developed connections with people who could help her with her goal of developing stricter health regulations and transparency in the cosmetics industry.
She brought Au Naturale Cosmetics to her native Green Bay in part to be closer to her family, but also because she could source many of the certified organic materials for her cosmetics in Wisconsin. She was also well aware of the strong work ethic in Wisconsin.
“The work ethic here is far superior to what I’ve seen not only in D.C. but also New York,” Prange says. Still, she realizes she must be creative to appeal to her youthful staff, who develop, manufacture, market and model her products. “So I offer them a flexible work schedule. If they want to work from home, I give them things to do and I don’t care if they do it here at the lab or at home or in California.”
St. Norbert College President Tom Kunkel, who is preparing to retire at the end of the academic year in mid-2017, was invited to cap the series next spring with a talk from his own perspective.
On April 11, Kunkel will address the topic, “The Cost of College: Separating Fact from Fiction.”
“I know from experience there is a tremendous amount of misinformation about the cost of college,” Kunkel says. “The most useful thing I can do is sort out what’s the reality and the misperception.”
For a small liberal arts school to host an event like the CEO Series is a feather in the cap of the college, Kunkel says.
“This is the sort of thing that wouldn’t be uncommon at a big research university or high-powered business school,” he says. “It’s unique for SNC because we are a liberal arts college and we’re coming up on almost two decades of doing this.”