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Women Leaders From 6 Chicago Companies Share Advice For The Next Generation

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BuiltIn Chicago – by Olivia Arnold

Women Leaders From 6 Chicago Companies Share Advice For The Next Generation

U.S. politician Shirley Chisholm famously said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” 

Like Chisholm, the six women featured below did not wait for an invitation to lead. Rather, in an industry where women account for just 25 percent of leadership, they successfully carved out paths to the top, earning high-ranking roles as directors, vice presidents and more. 

In honor of International Women’s Day, Built In Chicago connected with these leaders to glean invaluable lessons from their impressive careers. Celebrated annually on March 8, International Women’s Day recognizes women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements while pushing for gender equality.

For those aspiring to leadership roles, these featured women have important advice to share about the power of speaking up, trusting your skills and taking up space.

Kate Pretkel, VP, Special People Programs at EPAM

What’s the most important lesson that you learned as you grew your career?

One vital lesson that I learned is to keep going, even if you feel scared or nervous about something. There were times when I felt full of self-doubt about decisions that I needed to make. I wondered if I should speak up, keep quiet or take the opportunity. Ultimately, I stayed curious about what could work and tried things. The determination to keep moving forward got me to where I am today. 

I remember when I received the opportunity to come to the United States for a lead HR role with my company. I asked myself, “What does a woman with no HR experience in the United States have to offer? What kind of value could I bring?” My bosses, however, had confidence in me, and I knew to trust them. 

It was a difficult adjustment moving countries and starting a new job, but when you go through experiences like that, you learn not to be scared anymore and gain confidence that you will be able to figure anything out.

To read the full interview with Kate, visit here.

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