A Spotlight on Talent: Living Vicky on Mentoring Millennials


We are pleased to feature another guest blog by Lexie Ermi:

Sheila Berry, a business systems analyst at Booz Allen Hamilton, is the founder and executive director of a new business in the Washington, DC Metro area with a very unique goal. Living Vicky seeks to extend bridges across generational gaps in the workforce and "empower young women with the keys to the world.  "Vicky" is an acronym for "vision, integrity, caring, knowledge, and youthful energy." It demonstrates Living Vicky's overall goal of overcoming negativity with positivity. sheilaberry

Through monthly workshops available to any company or organization with multiple generations embedded in their staff, personal online and face to face mentoring for young women transitioning from high school to "whatever comes next," and a new program entitled "Traveler Pilot" which targets 18-20 year old women preparing to enter to the workforce, they aim to help change the negative stereotypes different generations may have of each other, particularly employers toward Millennials.

Ms. Berry points to research that has been done as the launching pad for her idea. Many older businessmen and women have a negative impression of Millennials entering the workforce, believing that there is a significant gap between Millennials and other generations. The advent of technology, she says, creates a larger perceived gap. However, there are commonalities between, say, twenty year olds, from all different generations. Ms. Berry's goal is to facilitate the building of bridges to cover these perceived gaps.

The idea for mentoring has been percolating with Ms. Berry throughout her entire life, because of the wonderful mentoring that she herself cites as a fundamental building block to her professional growth. Working in the hospitality industry as one of her first full-time jobs, she shares that her youth and natural tendency to always to things exactly by the book led to friction with co-workers. Her first mentor came to her as the situation came to a head and said, "Sheila, do you want to be right, or do you want to get the job done?" Naturally, Ms. Berry's response was "I want to get the job done by being right!" Through the mentorship she received in this difficult time, she experienced personal and professional growth, giving her a desire to provide this for other young women.

Ms. Berry has many nieces and nephews for whom she performs the role of mentor as well. She chooses not to give them gifts on birthdays or Christmas but rather saves money for each, and at the age of 13 she flies them to DC to visit her where she lays down the "rule of five" which include: no pregnancies given or received, no drugs or alcohol, and no tattoos. If the rule of five is kept, you can pick a trip anywhere in the US for yourself and a friend. If you complete your higher education, you can choose a trip anywhere internationally. Her niece Katie plans to go to New Zealand. Jordan, who has always loved penguins, plans to take his international trip to Antarctica though he has years to wait. The trips act as a guiding North Star. Ms. Berry's question then became, "how can I share that with other young women?" 

Ms. Berry is very clear about one thing: Living Vicky is a collaborative entity. The curriculum is designed by those with the best skills for that particular job, the workshops are administered by those with the appropriate skills for that job, and so on. Living Vicky is not a pyramid with the Executive Director at the top; rather, it is Olympic circles. The company itself, a non-profit, seeks to live by the goals it shares with others. Faced with the challenge of balancing a full-time job with Booz Allen Hamilton and running a non-profit, Ms. Berry explains it isn't really a balancing act: it is an integration act. Whatever needs more attention receives it. Integration and collaboration are key to Living Vicky. Ms. Berry's idea has come to a fruition that has received extremely positive reviews in the business community where Living Vicky has been welcomed with open arms.

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