Kyle Kridler is a management assistant for Dublin, Ohio, a vibrant suburban community located 20 minutes northwest of downtown Columbus. Approximately 25 square miles and home to 42,000 people, the city annually hosts Jack Nicklaus’ PGA Tour Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club and the nation’s second largest Irish cultural event – the Dublin Irish Festival. Dublin is home to Ohio’s largest corporation, Cardinal Health and is the headquarters of the Wendy’s Company, Ashland Inc., and the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC).
Reporting to the assistant city manager, Kridler is the administrator for Dublin’s Performance Measures program. He is involved in various initiatives in a project management capacity, assisting in citizen responses on behalf of council, and conducting internal research and analysis as needed. Two exciting projects he is currently involved in are the Aging in Place initiative and the Dublin Citizen’s Academy.
Aging in Place involves a community-driven, strategic plan that provides Dublin residents with the services, opportunities, and infrastructure so they can age with dignity in their own homes while remaining active and engaged members of their community.
The Dublin Citizen’s Academy will be a seven-week course, meeting one evening per week, providing residents with an opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes tour of city operations. Participants will not only get to learn from and interact with each of Dublin’s department directors, but will receive hands-on experience pushing snow plows, flushing hydrants, and interacting with other services that the city delivers.
Kridler is also passionate about ongoing education opportunities, coordinating a LeanOhio Bootcamp training for Dublin and Westerville employees in November. LeanOhio is a program funded by the state that trains government employees on Lean and Six Sigma processes to help create efficiencies and eliminate waste.
A Millenial’s Perspective on the Profession
A self-described “somewhat-typical” millennial, Kridler came into local government management after working for a few years in the IT staffing industry in Chicago.
“Like many recent college graduates, my visions of what I thought I’d be doing couldn’t have been further from my first ‘grown-up’ job,” Kridler said. “There were definitely times when I felt lost, but those years afforded me the opportunity to really focus on the career path I wanted to take, and ultimately brought me into the city management profession. After much debate and conversation with close friends and family, I decided to pack my bags and move back to the great state of Ohio. I was lucky enough to have been accepted into an MPA program beginning that fall and landed my first big gig as a management intern in Dublin’s city manager’s office. My friends and I joked about me being a 25-year-old intern, but I could not have been happier.”
And Kridler believes his story is not too far away from that of other “next gen” members working in local government. “I’ve got many of the boxes checked off: I’m renting in a downtown/urban setting, I don’t have kids, I have a graduate degree and student loans, and I’m idealistic and hopeful for the future,” Kridler said. “It’s been a blessing the mentorship I’ve received from the leadership of both Westerville and Dublin in my career thus far. It’s also been interesting, fun, and even challenging at times having three different generations, all in the same workforce.”
When asked what organizational values would help to attract, maintain, and nurture his fellow millennials as they become the future of local government leadership, Kridler offered these thoughts:
- Team Environment – A lot of my generation grew up with a heavy emphasis on being part of a team (and especially for those of us in this business, a team captain)––thriving as a member of a sports team, a school club, or student council; and working on team projects throughout college and grad school. Whether it’s your organization’s Green Team, Wellness Team or a functional working team, it allows early to mid-career professionals to build their internal networks, encourage cross-departmental collaboration, and see the organization from a large-picture perspective.
- Employee Development – The city of Westerville has an excellent program titled, “Leadership through Education and Development,” a four-year program that meets quarterly and is taught by Dr. George Flanagan. Participants of this program, representing departments across the city, are taught in an interactive, grad-school style class with lectures, case studies, and an annual project. There were many benefits of this program, but most importantly it taught the future leaders how to think strategically and it reinforced the organization’s commitment to investing in their employees.
- Citizen Interaction – The first few years in this career are typically spent in a position like management intern, analyst, or assistant that tends to be research and analysis heavy. I’ll be the first to admit that research is not my favorite part of a job, but I understand its value to the organization. I was reinvigorated by the passion exhibited by community residents during my experience helping to run the Citizen’s Academy. It was so refreshing having the opportunity to speak with the citizens and learn their perspectives – good, bad or indifferent.
- Creativity – From the generation that founded Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Spotify, and other successful start-ups, creativity is the new cool. Greg Stopka with the Alliance for Innovation has been helping organizations build “Innovation Teams” that act as an internal think tank for creating solutions and gaining efficiencies. I believe that if an organization allows its employees to exercise their creative approach to issues, it creates a level of excitement and buy-in.
“I cannot speak for all 20-30 year olds, but these are some of the common themes I’ve gained through conversations with my fellow younger colleagues. I can say, however, that we are excited for the journey we are on and the challenges that lie ahead,” said Kridler.
Kridler began his career in local government in 2010 as Dublin’s management intern. He then worked with the city of Westerville, Ohio, for three years as a management assistant before returning to Dublin this past March.
Kridler earned his bachelor’s degree in business management from Penn State University in 2008 and an MPA degree from Wright State University in 2012. He has been a member of ICMA, the Ohio City/County Management Association, and the Alliance for Innovation since 2010. A recipient of the Young Professional ICMA Conference Assistance Scholarship in 2012, Kridler is excited to be a member of the 2014 ICMA Conference Evaluation Committee this September in Charlotte and looks forward to becoming a more engaged member of ICMA.