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Women in Business

Women account for 51 percent of all persons employed in American management, professional and related occupations, somewhat more than their share of total employment (47 percent), according to a report issued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in early 2013.

So it only makes sense for organizations like the Schaumburg Business Association (SBA) to focus a large portion of their programming on this hard-charging population within the business community.

This year the SBA launched a series of quarterly Women in Business lunchtime symposiums, focused on professional and personal development.

“Our goal is to give women not only time to network with and support one another, but also to take time for themselves during which they can enhance their own development,” said Danielle Eisenach, chairman of the SBA’s Women in Business group and director of marketing for CDH, an Itasca-based public accounting firm.

The first program in the series was a sell-out, attracting 80 participants. Held in late February, it featured Vickie Austin, founder of CHOICES Worldwide, a business and career coaching practice, who spoke on “the conflicts of being a woman in business and all that entails: money, power and how to have it all without losing the very people we love – or losing ourselves.”

Upcoming programs in the series include: May 26, Danielle Eisenach conducting an interactive workshop on “Work-Life Integration: Six Steps to Reclaiming Your Life”; Aug. 25, well-known author Nadine Haupt speaking on “Breaking Your Inner Glass Ceiling”; and Nov. 10, Sanjita Kasturi, CEO of Action Inclusion, an organization specializing in leadership development, cultural intelligence and diversity strategies, presenting a workshop on “Executive Presence: Having a Powerful Seat at the Table.”

Admission is $25 for members and $35 for guests. To register, visit the calendar at www.schaumburgbusiness.com.

Eisenach, the group’s chairman and its second speaker, is a certified facilitator and a professional speaker who specializes in “change management.” When companies choose to re-brand themselves, she is the expert in marketing strategies, re-branding, social media and blogging, making sure that firms are seen in the way that they want to be seen.

“I direct all of that but also manage the CDH online presence, community involvement and association relationships, head the business development team and handle client training,” said Eisenach who holds a bachelor’s degree in corporate communications from Northern Illinois University and a master’s degree in leadership from North Central College.

“When I came to CDH, I looked at all of the associations to which CDH belonged, deciding which had value, and I cut out our membership in many of them. But I decided to give the SBA a second look by getting personally engaged in the organization and it has been fantastic. I have gotten great referrals and given great referrals, too,” she said. “The one thing that I felt the SBA was missing, however, was a group focusing on women in business and when I suggested starting one, the SBA staff asked me to chair it.”

Ever since she became president of the Schaumburg Business Association in 2012, Kaili Harding, had been hoping to initiate platforms within the SBA that would allow women to network with and engage one another and at the same time to develop professionally and personally. That was the impetus for the Women’s Golf Outing which is in its third year.

So when Eisenach voiced the opinion that a Women in Business initiative was needed and that her firm, CDH, would be willing to sponsor a series of speakers, Harding immediately jumped in with both feet.

“I had been wanting to provide women with additional opportunities to make connections which might lead to mentorship relationships. I hope to see more SBA women providing each other with guidance through the challenges we all face in the business world and these kinds of gatherings facilitate those relationships,” Harding said.

The University of Georgia graduate first saw the power of the SBA, she recalled, when she joined it as the marketing director of the Whole Foods store in Schaumburg, prior to its opening.

“That is when I saw the power of the SBA because it is so ingrained in the community. Because of SBA connections and support, the Schaumburg Whole Foods had the sixth largest opening in the history of the company and I give all the credit to my participation in the SBA while the store was under construction,” Harding said.

That is why she happily jumped in to lead the association when the president’s position became available.

Jaci Kator is AT&T’s director of external affairs for the Northwest suburban area and is based in Hoffman Estates. She works with municipalities and elected local and state officials, explaining to them AT&T’s position of a variety of policies and initiatives. She also represents AT&T in local chambers of commerce, economic development groups and business organizations. Kator is the SBA’s board chairman for 2016.

It was only after 13 years with AT&T, working in information technology and project management jobs and simultaneously earning a degree in integrated communications from Roosevelt University, that she was offered her current position. Years of volunteering for nonprofit advocacy groups and running large community events for organizations like the American Cancer Society undoubtedly played a part in Kator being offered the external affairs position, she said.

“I became AT&T’s representative to the SBA three years ago when the former representative retired. It is an important part of the AT&T culture to be a good corporate citizen. We strive to cultivate stronger relationships with the community and with area business leaders, so we are involved in many local business associations,” Kator said.

“SBA membership has been great for me. I have strengthened my relationships in the Schaumburg area and have made some great friendships. I enjoy meeting new members and sharing business experiences as I learn from those moments and have gotten valuable advice through these relationships. I have also enjoyed taking advantage of some excellent seminars,” she added.

In addition to being a long-time AT&T executive, Kator and her husband own a garden center in South Elgin so she is well-versed in the challenges faced by small businesses, as well as large.

Teresa Faidley has spent more than two decades in the financial services industry. She currently serves as a senior vice president at Wintrust’s Schaumburg Bank and Trust, developing and managing commercial banking relationships throughout the six-county Chicago area.

“I understand credit and am responsible for building relationships with businesses and industries that need our services. While you need to have strong business acumen to do this job, you don’t need a finance background. My degree from DePaul University is in communications because it’s all about building relationships.” Faidley said.

She has been a member of the SBA since 2010, serves on its board of directors and is also a member of the SBA’s economic development advisory committee.

“While my career is in finance and banking, my mission is economic and workforce development in manufacturing. I want to create wealth in the Schaumburg community by attracting new businesses and making sure they continue to grow here,” Faidley said.

Schaumburg Bank and Trust retains its membership in the SBA, she explained, “because we are strong community supporters; want to stay informed about what is happening in the business community at large; and want to maintain contact with businesses in the area that need access to credit to grow and prosper. Additionally we are strong supporters of the Schaumburg Park Foundation and the Prairie Center for the Arts.”

Advice to women starting in business:

“Take chances. If someone offers you an opportunity, run with it. Say ‘yes’ and figure it out along the way. Don’t let anything stop you. But you also need to consciously make time for family, friends and yourself. You need to put yourself first.”

– Danielle Eisenach

“Find a trusted mentor – inside or outside of your organization – who can help you navigate the issues that women face in the workplace and, if possible, find a sponsor within your organization who will bring your name up at meetings and help you along the way. This could certainly be a man. Then, as you move up in the organization, pay it forward by finding someone that you can mentor.”

– Kaili Harding

“The career path that you have in your head may not be the best for you, so be willing to veer off of your planned course. Be open-minded because you never know what doors might open next. Also, take advantage of the people who see potential in you and seek them out as mentors to help you refine your skills and develop your potential. It is also wise to join a business organization that can help you grow both professionally and personally.”

– Jaci Kator

“First, find a successful woman sponsor within your organization who will take you under her wing and help you move up the ladder. Analyze why this person has been successful and try to model yourself after her. Next, learn to negotiate and do not undervalue yourself. Third, be assertive so you can get a seat at the table and then get noticed for the right reasons. Fourth, network, network, network – gather together a group of trusted advisers and business partners and support each other in the workplace. Finally, learn to play golf. Never underestimate the value of an afternoon on the golf course.”

– Teresa Faidley

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