CK Insights

October 22, 2012

From AC to Executive: Leadership Advice for Young Professionals

Gabriella Miranda

A group of women here at CK recently joined together to watch the first in a series panels hosted by Ketchum CEO Barri Rafferty entitled, “Real Women Fostering Women’s Leadership.” The panelists included communications professionals Cheryl Callan of Weight Watchers, Edna Johnson of Michelin and Janet Riccio of Omnicom Group. From leadership advice to the delicate balance of being a respected executive and a cherished mother, this panel of women explored some of the challenges professional women face today, as we create high goals and even higher expectations for ourselves.

As the two female Account Coordinators here at CooperKatz, we were intrigued by the entire conversation. Although the panel leaned toward discussions of female executives balancing work and motherhood, we were happy to walk away with some great advice for young professionals just getting started in the workplace.

 

Co-authored by Gabriella Miranda and Dana Schwartz

A group of women here at CK recently joined together to watch the first in a series of panels hosted by Ketchum CEO Barri Rafferty entitled, “Real Women Fostering Women’s Leadership.” The panelists included communications professionals Cheryl Callan of Weight Watchers, Edna Johnson of Michelin and Janet Riccio of Omnicom Group. From leadership advice to the delicate balance of being a respected executive and a cherished mother, this panel explored some of the challenges professional women face today, as we create high goals and even higher expectations for ourselves.

As the two female Account Coordinators here at CooperKatz, we were intrigued by the entire conversation. Although the panel leaned toward discussions of female executives balancing work and motherhood, we were happy to walk away with some great advice for young professionals just getting started in the workplace. Here is the short-list of our key takeaways:
 
· Don’t underestimate the power of having a sponsor
o Janet Riccio stressed the importance of “sponsorship” for young professionals’ career development, as distinct from mentoring. While a mentor provides invaluable advice and guidance, a sponsor might play a more active role in a young professional’s career trajectory – identifying new opportunities that might be a fit, or using their influence to help that young person land a new position. This was a new concept to us, and it was noted that men seem to have sponsors more often than women. Having a sponsor can be a major help to your career, so don’t hesitate to work closely with your managers and develop professional relationships that will propel your career forward.
 
· Build and maintain networks
o Networking should not be exclusive to the job hunt. Young professionals should focus on building and maintaining a strong network over time. And they should not be afraid to ask for favors within their network – that is what it’s there for! As Edna Johnson explained, the worst thing you can do in your career is burn bridges. You never know when people will circle back into your life.
 
· Avoid “good girl” syndrome
o Don’t expect to get ahead by sitting quietly at your desk doing the work that you are assigned. Even if your output is outstanding, Cheryl Callan noted that typically everyone is busy doing their own work – and may or may not notice yours. If you want to get noticed, you have to get comfortable with speaking up and showing your worth. You also can’t be afraid to ask for what you want, which is a fault of many professional women.
 
The panel sparked a lengthy conversation among the group here at CK about women in leadership positions. As newer members of the staff, it was great to be able to participate in such an open discussion about some really hard-hitting issues—and to hear firsthand how leaders at CK deal with balancing work and life.
 
According to Catalyst, the leading nonprofit membership organization expanding opportunities for women and business, women currently hold only four percent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions. That is why panels and discussions about these issues are important—especially to young professionals like us. It is incredibly helpful for us to understand the challenges women have faced in advancing their careers and to learn how we can overcome those challenges.
 
What do you think about the advice from the panel? Do you have additional tips to add for young, professional women?
 
 


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