Where Were You 30 Years Ago?

I just completed my sophomore year at the University of Michigan, where I also finished my first economics class, which I took only because no other class was open. I knew at the time that’s what I wanted to do, even though I had no idea how I would use it.”
Diane Swonk, senior managing director/chief economist, Mesirow Financial
“I was an account executive at Nielsen in New York, helping companies like CNN, MTV and ESPN measure their audiences so they could build their networks.”
Susan Whiting, vice chair/chief diversity officer, Nielsen
“I was 32 years old, married six years (now 36!), with a 1- and 4-year-old, trying to juggle it all, learning the commercial real estate biz as principal at Howard Ecker & Co., just before I joined U.S. Equities where I lived ‘happily ever after.’”
Nancy Pacher, president/COO, U.S. Equities Reality
“I was a young civil engineer with big dreams and high expectations. I landed a job 2,400 miles away with the Panama Canal Authority in the Gatun Locks Facilities Division.”
“I was Senior Vice President at Arthur Rubloff & Co., a full-service real estate company. That year, I won the Chicago Real Estate Board’s Commercial Sales Broker of the Year Award. I was just inducted into its Real Estate Hall of Fame, 30 years later.”
Goldie B. Wolfe Miller, president, Millbrook Corporate Real Estate Services
“I was starting my first professional job with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office as a victim-witness assistant, where I escorted crime victims to court and provided court information. I was also thinking ahead about law school.”
Judy Rice, senior vice president of community affairs & economic development, BMO Harris Bank
“I just started Access Living, co-founded the National Council on Independent Living and campaigned against deregulation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits discrimination based on disability.”
Marca Bristo, president/CEO, Access Living
“I was an account supervisor at Bozell & Jacobs Chicago. I was young, single, full of ideas and ready to set the world on fire. I loved what I did and was eager to contribute and learn.”
Fay Ferguson, co-CEO, Burrell Communications
“I was district sales manager at MTI/Arrow Electronics. My team and I sold and supported mini computers and peripheral products to Chicago area Fortune 1000 companies. We quickly become the second most profitable branch nationally in this high growth market.”
Melissa Bean, president/CEO, The Executives’ Club of Chicago
“I was an intern architect with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. I arrived early in the morning to see SOM’s Sears Tower and got my heel caught in the revolving door. This was my first message on my path to stay in Chicago to raise a family and create an interior architecture company of my own!”
Suzanne Lovell, architect/interior designer, Suzanne Lovell, Inc.
“I was having a terrific time at Burrell Communications Group working with the best creative and marketing people in the business. As with many entrepreneurs, I wore many hats but my title was Vice President of Finance and Administration.”
BarbAra Burrell, president, Burrell Realty
“I was a recent high school graduate preparing for my freshman year at Harvard. My part-time job was in a clothing store in my hometown of Baltimore.”
Carole L. Brown, managing director, Barclays Capital
“I was a cub reporter at The Chicago Reporter, quickly turning into a political junkie. I caught the political bug while covering the historic campaign of Harold Washington as he vied to become Chicago’s first black mayor.”
Laura S. Washington, columnist, Chicago Sun-Times, Political Analyst, ABC 7-Chicago
“I was at First National Bank of Chicago, hired into a one-year training program where I could rotate throughout the bank. One of my rotations was on the trading floor, which I loved! It launched my career in the financial industry.”
Kym M. Hubbard, treasurer/chief investment officer, Ernst & Young, LLP
“I was living a wonderful life as a single woman in advertising sales with Hearst Magazines. It was a time of amazing personal growth. I had responsibility, a wonderful circle of friends and an embracing family – a great foundation for the future.”
Gloria Castillo, president, Chicago United
“I had a party to celebrate my terrific new job at a San Francisco ad agency. At the party, I fell in love at first sight with the man I would marry. Soon I’ll celebrate the 30th anniversary of both the marriage and the marketing passion!”
Marti Barletta, author, Marketing to Women and PrimeTime Women
“I was a sophomore at the High School for Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, Texas, waitressing in the evening and weekends to help pay to attend an art program abroad my senior year.”
Heather Becker, CEO, The Conservation Center
“At age 13, I walked into the World Bank offices in New Delhi to ask how I could get a job. I was told, ‘Go get a Ph.D. and come back,’ which is what I did.”
Rohini Dey, Ph.D., owner/founder, Vermilion
“After only 12 months out of Queens University Ontario, I became CEO for the first time at Mississauga Symphony. I learned valuable lessons that helped me become a successful CEO for the past three decades.”
Lynn Osmond, president/CEO, Chicago Architecture Foundation
“I was new to Chicago, just married and starting my career in investment banking. I fell in love with the city, and the skills I learned in investment banking became the foundation of my career.”
Adela Cepeda, president, A.C. Advisory, Inc.
Compiled by Alexa Fifeld and Macaela Mackenzie.

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