For those of you unfamiliar with the group, Step Up Women’s Network is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to “igniting women and girls to fulfill their potential.” They provide after-school and weekend programs to help teenage girls from under-privileged communities become confident young women prepared for college. Their members gain access to social networking events, professional development panels and hands-on volunteer opportunities. If you live in Los Angeles, Chicago or New York, I highly recommend checking them out.
The event, which was held in Banana Republic’s Fifth Avenue location, was packed! Catherine discussed the journey she’s taken throughout her career, from her early days in publishing, to leading the marketing groups of renowned retail companies, including Ann Taylor and Coach. She also led her own creative and marketing agency, and worked with Donna Karan on her Urban Zen Foundation.
Catherine then answered a myriad of questions from the audience on all aspects of her career, from how she balances family and work, to what she looks for in candidates when hiring. Here are a few key takeaways:
On marketing: Catherine says that, as a marketer, it’s vital to a company’s success to integrate marketing efforts with other divisions of the organization. Additionally, if becoming CMO is your goal, take an active role in all marketing functions, from public relations and advertising, to branding and visual merchandising.
On hiring: In looking for prospective employees, Catherine is interested in the person who, in addition to having the required skills, possesses a genuine curiosity about the business and its direction. She looks for people who have the right level of engagement, interest and passion, who’ve researched the brand and industry, and come prepared with questions.
On career: When asked what three words she’d put on a t-shirt, Catherine gave these options: “Dreaming the Dream,” “Follow your Bliss,” and “Find your Passion.” However, she also warns that work shouldn’t define you completely, and you need to keep that in mind when trying to strike that perfect balance between work and life.
I think she’s spot-on. You spend a large portion of your life at work. Shouldn’t you be doing what you are great at and passionate about? I know that I have, and hope the same for all of you!
Amanda Augustine is the Job Search Expert for TheLadders. She provides job search and career guidance for professionals looking to make their next career move. Have a question for Amanda? Submit your question here for a chance to have it answered in her weekly column, and be sure to follow her at @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter and “Like” her on Facebook for up-to-the-minute job-search advice.