To celebrate Women’s History Month last month, the Women in Business Professions student group at the Northern Illinois University College of Business hosted a panel discussion of successful women graduates to discuss insights.
The intention was to share hard-won lessons learned on the job that with soon-to-be-grads to allow them to benefit from their experience and have a jump start when they entered the working world with a program titled:
Lessons from the Front: If We’d Only Known this Back then!
The participants were recruited by Denise Schoenbachler, Dean of the Business School and included:
Sheila Talton, Vice President, Office of Globalization, Cisco Systems, Inc.
Cathleen Johnson, Executive Vice President, General Manager, Tourism Practice and Global Director, Education & Training, Edelman Worldwide
Jill Krueger, President and Chief Executive Officer, Health Resources Alliance
Janet Krueger, State and Local Tax Partner, Chicago, PricewaterhouseCoopers
Rita Dragonette, President, Dragonette Consulting (career consultant), moderator
Culpwrit has arranged to share their comments in a periodic series culled together by Rita Dragonette.
Part One will focus on comments from Sheila Talton:
–Don’t underestimate the value of volunteering to create experiences you may not immediately get on the job. For example, if you are a member of a not-for-profit in your neighborhood, offer to help work on the budget , or create the branding for a fundraising campaign. Not only will these experiences help bolster your resume, when you do a good job, others will notice and this recognition can create opportunities for mentorship.
–Be a global citizen. The vast majority of business is being conducted globally and this will only increase. It’s critical you prepare yourself. Absolutely do the obvious: learn languages, take internationally focused courses, and explore study abroad programs and internships. At the same time, take every opportunity to travel, and when you do pay attention to the culture in each country you visit: how do people relate, what’s the role of the family, what customs and behavior are valued? Every experience increases your comfort on the global stage, and therefore your value to a global company.
–Recognize that diversity can be an advantage, not an obstacle—whether it be gender, color or religion—that can provide very different and valuable perspectives on how to solve business problems. For example, women’s styles of consensus building and negotiating are typically more amenable, a value that is appreciated more than you might assume. If you find yourself the only woman in the room, never be intimidated, consider it an opportunity. At the same time business people of color are often received more willingly abroad than at home.
–Be strategic. Your career won’t come to you, you have to design and orchestrate it yourself. Study carefully where your interests and skills line up with global business opportunities and develop your plan: credential yourself with courses, training and real-life experiences outside the business world; identify and cultivate those with experience in your area of interest as potential mentors; volunteer for special projects and assignments that may be on top of your work load but will build your skill-set and raise your profile; and begin to develop the “elevator” speech that recaps your personal brand, the value you offer to an organization.