Photo by Brandon Alms
A natural salesman and community builder, Paden Wilcox, 30, is determined to make every one of Springfield’s young professionals feel at home in the Queen City.
When Paden Wilcox returned to southwest Missouri after an 18-month stint in Boulder, Colorado, he didn’t just dip his toe into the metaphorical business community pool. He stood at the edge of the diving board, no doubt wearing one of his trademark suits, and dived in headfirst. He started attending Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce events and Rotary Club meetings in addition to joining Rotoract and The Network, which he now leads as the 2019 chair. Needless to say, he made quite the splash.
Meeting new people has always been easy for Wilcox, the business development director for Computer Recycling Center LLC, an electronics recycling and secure data disposal company. But he knows it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. He’s devoted his time on The Network’s Leadership Council, and especially as the chair, to growing the organization and making sure new members feel at home. “We have a membership task force now that greets new members and, you know, introduces them and connects them,” Wilcox says. “We do 90- and 30-day calls to new members just to see if there’s a way we can help them get plugged in.” Additionally, a recent meeting focused on basic networking tips, and the organization’s Student Outreach Task Force meets with area college students to expose them to the broader Springfield community in hopes that if they learn about the job opportunities and amenities available here they will put down roots after graduation. They’re aiming to reach 800 students this year, up from 200 during the task force’s first year in 2017.
Wilcox is excited that The Network is now a sought-after resource for experienced professionals and community organizations looking to engage young professionals. “It’s so awesome,” the avid fly fisherman says. “It just speaks to how many passionate, incredible young professionals we have here in this community.”
Big Picture: “I hope that we start to see an attitude change. It has to start within, in my opinion, and we have to talk about what we love about here and not the things we like about it. It’s all about place-making.”