Posted at 5:52 PM
By Melissa English, Press Intern, Office of the Secretary, Department of Commerce
Last week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker spoke at the final session of the Department’s “Enterprising Women of Commerce” speaker series.
Hosted by the Office of Civil Rights, the Office of Public Affairs, and the Commerce Research Library, the “Enterprising Women of Commerce” speaker series aimed to highlight women leaders in the Department Commerce. Women are changing and making inroads throughout the world — most importantly, today’s women are enterprising. This was an opportunity for employees to meet and greet leaders within the Department in a more informal venue.
Since taking office as the 38th U.S. Secretary of Commerce in June 2013, Secretary Pritzker has focused on providing American businesses and entrepreneurs with the tools they need to grow and hire. A key member of President Obama’s economic team, Secretary Pritzker previously founded and ran five different businesses in the real estate, hospitality, senior living, and financial services industries. In her time at the Department, she has worked closely with the business community and helped advance the president’s priorities of expanding growth and opportunity for all Americans. Secretary Pritzker’s achievements during her time as Secretary of Commerce exemplify her role as an enterprising woman.
During the Armchair discussion hosted by Chief Economist Dr. Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, Secretary Pritzker discussed her friendship with the Obama family and her transition from private to public sector work. Secretary Pritzker emphasized that there is no greater responsibility than serving your country and that she was humbled by the ask to become Secretary of Commerce and fulfill President Obama’s vision for the Department.
Secretary Pritzker has been able to support this vision through her Strategic Plan, which she regards as one of the most important things she has done during her time as Secretary of Commerce. This framework has five pillars that encompass every task the Department is responsible for: Trade and Investment; Innovation; Environment; Data and Operational Excellence. The pillars have guided the work of the Department and given employees a way to measure their progress.
Regarding her transition to government, Secretary Pritzker discussed the specific skills that have allowed her to excel in both the private and public sectors. She highlighted the ability to focus, stating that it is important to remember “you can’t boil the ocean,” strategic thinking and strategic planning, and commitment to the community.
She highlighted this commitment to the community as one of the reasons she admires leadership at the Department of Commerce, noting the great responsibility these leaders have for the wellbeing of the people in the neighborhood, city, region, and even country. She urged Department of Commerce employees to continue with this commitment, saying, “Challenge yourself to a greater meaning in life. Become a force for good. Seize the opportunity afforded to you as a business leader to change our country and our world for the better.”
Secretary Pritzker also touched on the importance of mentorship and urged all employees of the Department of Commerce in attendance to actively look for mentorship. Although all of Secretary Pritzker’s mentors were men, she noted the great number of women in senior positions in the Department of Commerce, saying that she interacts with more senior women in this job than she has in any other job in her life. She said, “As women, and particularly as women in consequential positions, I think it is really important that we mentor and support one another. We need to create new and better opportunities for women to succeed.”
The “Enterprising Women of Commerce” event featuring Secretary Penny Pritzker was a great opportunity for employees at the Department of Commerce to learn from a true role model and mentor.