UIC’s Undergraduate Women’s Network Celebrates International Women’s Day

UIC’s Undergraduate Women’s Network Celebrates International Women’s Day

The Title Connection’s Melissa Souto attended the Undergraduate Women’s Network of University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) “If She Succeeds, I Succeed” conference to celebrate International Women’s Day.  Below she summarizes the event and talks about being intentional, resilient and not afraid to take risks when it comes to your career.

To celebrate International Women’s Day this year, the Undergraduate Women’s Network (UWN) of University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) hosted a Women in Business conference on Thursday, March 7.  Established in 2015, the UWN aims to empower the community of women studying at UIC’s undergraduate business program by providing resources and exposure to professionals and challenges in the modern world.

The event began with a UWN introduction to underline the importance of resilience and self confidence, in order to continue increasing gender equality in the workplace.  Taking the stand first, Dr. Susan Poser, Provost and Vice Chancellor at UIC, shared her journey of uncertainty in her career path. Dr. Susan Poser followed her husband to Chicago and with the right amount of determination, created her own career path.  As she outlined her hard work, she offered a piece of advice to any young professional beginning their journey: have a strong sense of self, find a circle of supportive female friends who amplify your message and have patience as you work towards your goals.  Dr. Susan Poser then introduced one of the keynote speakers, Julie Holzrichter, the Chief Operating Officer of CME Group.

Julie Holzrichter is an inspiration to everyone determined to thrive in their profession.  Her story begins as a market reporter at CME, a futures exchange based in Chicago that later became CME Group, home to the world’s largest derivatives exchange.  She was determined to find tuition reimbursement and was planning to become a lawyer. But, what might have looked like chaos in the trading pits to outsiders was orderly, important, and fascinating to Julie.   She changed her major and made a career pivot to finance. That move was not without its challenges or doubts, but she forged ahead, eventually managing the entire trading floor.  Choosing to take a leadership role in trading floor technology as it evolved was also a risk, but the challenge gave Julie the motivation to develop skills she needed to eventually become COO.

Julie credits her success to her desire to understand what it means to lead, develop your personal brand, and ask yourself what is possible for you.  CME Group also provided Julie opportunities to continuously grow as she took part in the electronification of the markets and the company’s mergers and acquisitions. One piece of advice Julie offered to young women struggling with confidence in the financial industry is to start early, join organizations such as WILD to become connected, and acquire education in the field.  She gave the audience three actions they could take back to their own career progression:

1. Be very intentional about bringing others along.  Diversity offers a different perspective that is invaluable to your organization’s success.

2. Put yourself out there, and make your voice heard.  Take advantage of resources available to you, and be your own advocate.

3. Do not skip the risks.  Uncertain times often lead to hidden gems, so do not let fear hold you back.

Julie also advised attendees to observe, learn and volunteer in places that are not part of their core responsibilities.  Challenging yourself to be outside your comfort zone will teach you new skills including the ability to communicate and collaborate.  Julie also mentioned to give your team the benefit of the doubt and accept different opinions in order to achieve the best outcome. Before she left the stage, Julie reminded the audience to stay true to themselves and their unique perspectives as they grow their careers.

Following Julie at the WIB conference was a panelist comprised of: Andrea Zopp – CEO of World Business Chicago, Joycelyn Winneck – Chief Marketing Officer of PCMA (former VP of Chicago Tribune), Dr. Dilara Sayeed – Founder & CEO of vPeer, Fullbright Specialist, Lecturer at Northwestern, and 2017-2018 Illinois State Representative for 5th District Candidate, and Bushra Amiwala activist student at UIC.  This panelist gave way to offering advice on how to remain resilient even when faced with failures and challenges outside of your control with the theme: “If She Supports”.

Andrea reminded the audience that failure can often feel as only one door being slammed in your face, but it actually is a new door opening.  She continued to share the story of her losing the race to being named the US State Attorney in the 1980’s. Although she was devastated, she had learned if she had not continued to raise her voice as a prosecutor in a high profile sexual assault case with a Congressman she would have most likely moved forward, this piece of information gave way to her new journey and reminded her to stay true to herself.  The other three panelists agreed with Andrea’s message on finding resilience in their failure and added the following:

– Resilience is the most powerful trait we have as humans, because we all will fall down. Love yourself and believe you deserve to succeed.  – Dr. Dilara Sayeed

– When a challenge blocks your path to success, do your best to not take this personally. Speak with your mentors and find a new path. – Joycelyn Winneck

– You may be faced with a negative stereotype because of your religion, race or gender, use this as a motivation to establish a new role for yourself. – Bushra Amiwala

With the theme, “If She Succeeds, I Succeed”, the UWN successfully brought together the next generation of local and global women business leaders at their 5th annual conference.  From the Provost introduction to the “If She Supports” professional panel, the WIB Conference demonstrated the importance of creating a gender-balanced world with a diverse group of female business leaders.  The event was a fantastic start to celebrating the history of female activism and the future of gender equality.

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