AWESOME founder Ann Drake spoke recently to a meeting of the Northwestern Medicine Women’s Leadership Group (NM WLG). Northwestern Medicine has four hospitals, including Northwestern Memorial Hospital, an academic center in downtown Chicago that was named the No. 1 hospital in Illinois by U.S. News & World Report. The title of Ann’s talk was “The Importance of Women’s Networks.”
The NM WLG, which launched in September 2018, describes the group’s mission as: “To advance women leaders across NM by providing learning and networking opportunities to support personal and professional growth and together create a culture of collaboration, inclusion, education and mentoring.”
Prior to Ann’s talk, members of the group were polled about their areas of interest. According to Emily Kozak, Vice President, Governance and Chief of Staff, Office of the CEO, Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, “By far, ‘networking’ was the most popular answer, followed by mentorship, professional development, sharing learning experiences, and supporting one another.”
Ann, who has been involved in professional women’s networks since as far back as 25 years ago and who founded AWESOME in 2013, described AWESOME’s history and initiatives and then participated in a “fireside chat,” focusing on questions about lessons, obstacles and risks in her own career and about how she thinks women can best champion other women.
Ann pointed out that while each profession has its own challenges for women, female leaders in any field can support each other with encouragement, advice learned from personal experience, and first-hand knowledge about the environment in which a leader is expected to perform and succeed.
The NM WLG has approximately 440 women leaders representing 54 percent of leadership. Fifty-three percent have more than 10 years of experience at NM, and 23 percent are female physicians.