Secretary Pritzker Encourages Mentorship Among Women

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Secretary Pritzker Encourages Mentorship Among Women

Thursday, June 9, 2016
Secretary Pritzker discusses the importance of mentorship among women with Department of Commerce Chief Economist Ellen Hughes-Cromwick at the final Enterprising Women of Commerce seminar.
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Hughes-Cromwick: This is fantastic, so great to see all of you here and the Secretary. You're actually our eleventh speaker in this series and we are just absolutely honored and delighted that you could come here today. I wanted to see if maybe you could talk a little about mentorship. We are always looking for ways to improve. You just emphasized continuous improvement - how and what do you think are some keys to that effort to mentor for many of us who are giving back and finding ways to make people successful. What are some key ingredients there?

Secretary Pritzker: Well, I think, you know I'm a huge proponent of mentorship and I'm a huge proponent of find your mentor as opposed to needing to be appointed one. You know, people love to be flattered and if you say to someone, "I'd like you to help me help myself," there are very few people who are going to say no. People want to help. They want to be supportive. It doesn't mean that they're doing your work for you, it means they're there to help guide you. So don't be shy about asking, is the first thing I would say. Certainly, that was the way I approached it. You know, my own experience was I didn't have many women mentors. Most of the mentors in my life were men - there weren't women in positions of leadership. You know, you have women like Lois, who's sitting here, you know, who's a phenomenal lawyer and there's just so many women - Ellen, others - who are all in this room and throughout our department who are mentors for women. You know, you can learn from people by watching them and they don't necessarily - it doesn't have to be a huge engagement. You can have a mentorship experience by saying, "I respect and admire that person," and watch how they behave, read about them, and things like that.  So, there's lots of ways to gain insights that can help us all improve and, as I say to my children, I'm a work in progress too and we're all a work in progress. It's never too late to invest in yourself, and it's never too early either. I'll tell you something else that's been fascinating being part of the Cabinet: There are more women, senior women, that I get to work with in this job than I've ever worked with in my life. And I step back and I think, what was wrong with the previous situation that we don't have more women in leadership positions? It's nuts.

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