To Influence and To Be Influenced

Millenial perspective on joining the “Chicago Women of Influence”

Mary Kate Love | Engagement Manager, DMDII at UI Labs | Advisory Board member

Photo by Elijah Macleod on Unsplash

One of the most underrated and least talked about attributes in business and career development is influence. How do we get it? How do we use it? How can we learn to better effectively use it? How can we harness it to shape the world around us?

For women, this issue is particularly important. Although there have been significant strides, there still exists a large chasm between the number of women starting out on the professional track and how many are advancing to senior positions. We already know the benefit of having a diverse set of leaders make decisions (McKinsey, Why Diversity Matters), so what are we doing — separately and collectively — to close this gap? How do we influence our corner of the world to tackle this issue?

My perspective on influence — being influenced and influencing others — is still growing as a millennial woman in my career. To date, my most potent experience with influence has hands-down been mentorship. he exciting thing about mentorship is that it comes in many forms — you just have to be receptive and strategic to make it happen. I’ve experienced mentorship in many ways: everything from a casual coffee one day, to a competitive program that matches you up with a mentor (Chicago Innovation Awards Women Mentoring Co-Op) to connecting with a co-worker to discuss our careers once a month.

Recently, the tables were turned, I was so focused on being mentored, that I had not realized I was actually mentoring young women on my own. I held meetings with women in the workforce to help them refine their resume, explore what they wanted to do in their career, and ultimately helping them to land the right jobs.

My experience with mentorship reaffirms my belief that with more connections, we can inspire young women to reach for great careers and give women already in the workforce the right tools to advance at the organizations and in their fields. I am looking forward to kicking off and being part of the ITA’s Women of Influence Chicago: an organization established to leverage our influence to ensure Chicago becomes is the leading tech ecosystem for women. We are taking an organic approach at solving this problem by building out a set of initiatives to encourage companies, business leaders and even co-workers to invest in the acceleration of women in their careers.

Mary Kate Love is the Engagement Manager, DMDII at UI Labs and an Advisory Board member of the Women Influence Chicago Initiative, powered by the Illinois Technology Center.