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Centro hosts WomenAdvancing for an evening of mentorship and merlot

“Our happiness is determined by the amount of personal investment made in our own growth.”  – Centro Manifesto

Guided by our core principles, Centro invests in opportunities for employees to learn and grow.  Particularly passionate about this is Kelly Wenzel, Centro CMO, and the only female leader in Centro’s C-level of executives. Kelly has lead the creation of a women’s mentoring group within Centro’s walls, and is actively involved in WomenAdvancing (formerly WIMMI), a women’s networking and mentorship group that was founded in 2011. On a snowy February evening, Centro recently hosted the Chicago chapter of Women Advancing for a fireside chat on the importance of mentorship for women in the workplace.

The event opened as any proper event should – with delicious wine and cheese. After a half hour of mingling, Kelly took the floor to introduce Colleen Whitney and Trish Chuipek, both senior- level women at the media agency, OMD Chicago, and speakers for the evening’s panel chat. What followed was a warm discussion around mentorship and leadership, with plenty of points worth sharing.

Mentorship is Like Karma

The best approach to mentorship is to treat it like you would any relationship, and keep it perpetuating. You might need many mentors, and you might frequently need new ones, but it’s important to understand what your end goal is and figure out what you need before you can find people who can help you. Is it a difficult relationship at work? Maybe it’s advice on being a mom, or a personal challenge you’re facing. When you identify it, the next step is to make an introduction. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. “The trap that we fall into is asking,” Colleen reminded us. But don’t forget to invest in your mentor, too. “In my world, this is known as Colleen’s office hours, but many people don’t invest in the relationship with me. It’s about a two-way investment,” explained Colleen. Remember to take the time for your mentor as well, and pay it forward. Senior or novice, we all have an opportunity for mentorship. “Everyone has something to learn and everyone has something to teach.”

Be Fearless in Unearthing

Trish urged our attendees to keep a broader picture in-mind while navigating their careers. We are often told to be bold, brave, and courageous, but Trish reminds us to be thoughtful without being calculating. “Take risks, but don’t be careless,” she noted. Unearth what you are best at, and think about what you want to improve. “The broad skills you develop will transcend your role. And don’t forget to develop a craft,” said Trish. Women should be encouraged to invest in what they’re doing so they can speak intelligently and deeply about their specialties. Mentorship can play a role in developing a craft, but women must also remember not to get lost in the advice. “We want to pull (knowledge) from others, but don’t forget yourself. Remember your core things. Take what you learn and see how you best fit it, because you’re selling yourself and who YOU are.”

You Don’t Have to Burn your Bra

Attendees wanted to know: how do I make my point when I’m the only woman at the table and I’m being talked over? The best piece of advice: comfortable confidence. Trish urged attendees to be amazing at the job that they do and to pick their battles with confidence. “Don’t be ballsy for the sake of being ballsy,” but be confident and comfortable in the points that you’re making. Be persistent, and get buy-in before the meeting. Take your idea to one person, someone who knows your work and respects you, and get them on your side. Then, ask them to help share your idea. It might not work out, but that person will always respect you for voicing your concerns. Also, Kelly reminds us to not worry about what we can’t influence. She noted, “There’s a circle of concern, and there’s a circle of influence that you can make a difference in. Worry more about the circle of influence than about perception.”

To learn more about WomenAdvancing or to get involved, visit www.womenadvancing.org.

WomenAdvancing, formerly Women in Media Mentoring Initiative, was founded by Jack Myers in 2011 with the mission of connecting female professionals in the media, marketing, and advertising industries. Today, WomenAdvancing has connected over 6,000 women across the country and has thriving chapters in New York, Boston, Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.