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Five Ways Women Can Advance Their Careers

Oct 23, 2012

BWCC

More than 200 women gathered for the second Booth Women Connect Conference at the Gleacher Center on September 21. Here’s some of the advice they received from faculty and alumnae speakers. Barbara Cheng, pictured above, executive coach and CEO of Ohio-based Executive Core, delivered the morning talk, The Executive Path and the Future of Women in Business.

1. Create your future

When opportunity knocks, answer the door. Say ‘yes’ and step up to the challenge. Evolve your plan as you go along.

Deanie Elsner, ’92, executive vice president, and president of beverages for Kraft Foods North America

2. Do what you like to do

Every time I tried something, like a new project, I would think, 'What do I like about this? What do I hate?' Think about the process, the team, or the industry. Think about the things you really enjoy, and after a while, you'll see a trend.

— Martina V. Dimova-Martinez, '08, manager of new business initiatives, Cars.com.

3. Adapt to change

Leaders that are the most attractive to executive recruiters are the ones that have reinvented themselves several times - it demonstrates adaptability to myriad business situations. Communication is key: high potential leaders are exceptionally good at taking volatility and turning it into vision.

— Executive coach Barbara Singer Cheng, CEO of Ohio-based Executive Core.

4. Find a mentor (it’s not easy)

Mentors can help you along the way, but they don’t drop out of the sky. Young people think someone is supposed to come up and say, 'I'm going to be your mentor.' It doesn't happen that way. Instead, look for subtle cues from an experienced colleague who expresses interest in your work. It's up to you to realize they're inviting you into their circle.

— Valerie Van Meter, '04, senior vice president and CFO for the Seventh Federal Reserve District in Chicago.

5. Become a great manager.

Build an 'A' Team by assembling the best team possible. Create constructive tension. Motivate through belief and trust, empower your staff and help people succeed. Understand your competition. Determine your destination and frame your path to accomplish it.

— Deanie Elsner, ’92, executive vice president, and president of beverages for Kraft Foods North America

— S. A. Swanson