Women in Business: Transforming Challenges into Opportunities

 |   Shelley Stern Grach

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Powerful Women….in STEM/STEAM…helping to ensure the success of the next generation of young women.

UIC-logoI had the pleasure to participate in a terrific conference on March 18 with a large group of students at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC). The focus of the overall conference was Women in Business with a keynote and a wide range of breakout sessions, focusing on Entrepreneurship, Life after College, and Work/Life Balance. The panel I participate on was focused on Women in Technology: Trending Tech Skills for the Best Business Talent. I shared the stage with a team of very impressive women:

  • Veronica Arreola, Director, Women In Science & Engineering Program Assistant Director, Center for Research on Women & Gender, UIC
  • Blagica Bottigliero, Vice President, Digital Media at ModSquad
  • Mary Beth Watson-Manheim, Professor of Information and Decision Sciences & Director of the PhD in MIS, UIC

The panel dialog focused on several questions, including:

  • What skills do women in tech need for the current marketplace?
  • What other skills (soft) are required which can differentiate women from the rest of the pack?
  • How can women in tech ensure they earn as much as their counterparts?

Each of the panelists had a different background, ranging from corporate to academic to entrepreneurship. Mary Beth and I concluded that we had met each other, both previously serving on committees related to the State of Illinois Workforce Board (small world). The conversation was highly interactive, with some terrific questions from the students. Appropriately, many were focused on how best to prepare for job interviews and how best to articulate their qualifications. We stressed that it’s important to do your homework (know what the average salary is in Illinois for your job category, be sure to understand health care benefits and other benefits such as tuition re-imbursement, etc.). I’ve already received several LinkedIn requests from the students and I’m following Blagica on Twitter!

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Congratulations to UIC for the Women in Business program and best wishes for continued success to the students and faculty, who clearly are focused on economic mobility for the women of Chicagoland.

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Shelley Stern Grach
Shelley Stern Grach

They say that great work stems from a combination of passion and commitment, something that Shelley certainly possesses when it comes to her life and career. She currently serves on the boards of the Women’s Business Development Center, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Thrive Chicago, Year Up and LISC Chicago. At Microsoft Chicago, she’s the Director of Civic Engagement, working at the intersection of computing and community, promoting STEM programs and using Microsoft technology to spur growth in the community. So no matter if it's work, play, or giving back, Shelley always makes sure her drive and professionalism help her complete her life's goals.