What are your job responsibilities/duties?
I lead a group of talented consultants who work with executives in some of the top companies in the world. As CEO I am responsible for setting and guiding the growth of the company, execution of the strategy, fostering innovation, working with select clients, writing, speaking and being the face of the company,
What does a typical day look like?
There’s no such thing as a typical day! However, I am conscious of balancing my time so that I am meeting with the team, providing input on internal projects, working on my own projects, reaching out to prospecting clients, writing, networking and speaking to build our brand profile.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
I worked in television news as a reporter and anchor for 20 years after I graduated from U of I. When I started my firm, I believed the skills I learned that helped me succeed in media would help me in business, however, what I didn’t realize was how exciting it would be to learn the business side of business, and to take on the mantle of leadership. What I love today is that every day I’m learning something, just as I did when I was a reporter. To me, success in a career is to feel you are always learning, always growing, and always working to lift others up as well.
What is the most difficult aspect of the job?
As CEO I’m responsible not only for my own family, but for the many families who are counting on us to be successful. My mantra is “do no harm to Bates” (something I learned from a great mentor) which means whatever decisions we make they must be in the interest of the firm and our people.
What on-campus activities were you involved with? Where did you gain relevant experience?
I was Vice President at Kappa Kappa Gamma, a phenomenal experience in leadership. It taught me so much about the complexity of making group life work - so many people and relationships that have to be cared for, in order for a sorority to live its values. I was also in a chorus that took a trip to Europe - the first in my life, and it opened my eyes to the world.
How did your experience at ILLINOIS and in the College of Media prepare you for your professional life? For this specific position?
In choosing journalism as a major, I had no idea what an exciting career path it would pave. I was in the wave of the first women in television, It taught me courage and confidence. In school I learned how to gather facts, synthesize them, identify the big idea, write and tell the story. During college I participated on campus radio and also worked part-time as a reporter at a local commercial radio station, covering the school board. I must say I’m equally grateful to have started in liberal arts. I think a broad liberal arts education is critically important to anyone’s success. Perhaps the most important thing I learned in school is how to learn - as a matter of fact, our firm’s values include learning!
What advice do you have for students interested in this field?
Just start! If something interests you, pursue it and don’t worry about where it will lead! I have had two fantastic careers - as a journalist, and now an entrepreneur and CEO - Steve Jobs used to say you can’t connect the dots forward, you can only connect them backward. My career makes sense, looking back, but I never would have predicted where I would be, or what I would be doing today. Keep moving in the direction of what interests you and you will be successful.
What is one thing that you know now that you wish you had known when you started in the field? When you graduated from the College?
The value of hard work and focus. In competitive fields like media and advertising, those who rise to the top strive to do their best work everyday. However, be as dedicated to building a healthy, fulfilling personal and family life, too, Work hard when you work, and then be sure each day you make time for health, fitness, family, friends, learning, travel and things you enjoy.