Davis urges women to maintain sense of humor, trust their gut instincts
October 11, 2011
Lisle, Illinois ~ Pam Davis' role in kick-starting the federal probe that eventually led to the resignation and trial of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was no laughing matter to the corrupt politicians and well-heeled business she helped bring down.
But keeping one's sense of humor during difficult times is important to good health and a good workplace, Davis said.
"I think that a sense of humor goes a long way to good health and also to being successful, though as a young woman working my way up to the top it was never really appreciated," Davis told a room full of women recently.
"So once you work your way up to a certain place where they can't fire you for being funny, I say go for it," she said. "We spend too much time at work not to have some fun."
Davis, Connie Lindsey, President of Social Corporate Responsibility for Northern Trust Bank, and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez (pictured, right) were the featured speakers at the 2011 Greater Chicago Women's Leadership Summit presented by NICOR and the College of Business at Benedictine University on September 30, 2011 in the Krasa Student Center at Benedictine.
The Women's Leadership Summit is a regional conference to address the issues of working women. The event includes nationally-recognized female executive leaders speaking on topics such as financial literacy, work/life balance, culture and innovative leadership.
"The Women's Leadership Summit offers an opportunity for women – and a few men – to network and be inspired by phenomenal women speakers, who share their achievements and their personal journeys," said Denise West, director of Community Relations at Benedictine University. "Who best to inspire a woman than another woman?
"Over the past six years, the diverse, traditional and non-traditional women speakers chosen have delivered a sincere and heartfelt message to the attendees," she added. "The success of the event, I believe, is due to the hard work of the organizing team and the support of our event sponsors, NICOR and the College of Business."
More than 300 women and men attended the summit, which has grown into one of the area's pre-eminent events dealing with women's issues and responsible business practices.
"The Women's Leadership Summit is an example of how deeply imbedded the College of Business is and our commitment to responsible business management education," said Sandra Gill, Ph.D. Dean of the College of Business at Benedictine University.
"All of our speakers have extraordinary competence. It takes my breath away when we hear a snapshot of what these women have accomplished. But it's not what we do, it's who we are, and their accomplishments are driven by their character.
"We look forward to hearing and perceiving the extraordinary commitment and persistence and energy each of these women bring to the whatever roles they have, the compassion that fuels them, and the courage they have shown to face unprecedented odds and be successful with grace and elegance."
Davis is the President and CEO of Edward Hospital in Naperville. Under her leadership, Edward has become the No. 1 hospital in the west and southwest suburban Chicago area for overall quality, according to research by the National Research Corporation.
However, when Davis sought approval from the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board to build a hospital in Plainfield, she was told by a business acquaintance that she would have to "play ball" and hire a certain contractor or the project would be rejected. She refused, and the board turned down her request.
"Then I had not only a gut instinct, but the sense that really something was very, very wrong," she said. "So I did what anybody would have done and called 411. 'What is the number of the FBI?'"
Davis encouraged the women in the audience to believe in who they are and they, too, will make the right choices.
"Trust your instincts, especially during tough times that nobody wants to face," she said. "Trust your gut. You are who you are based on where you've been and the values you have developed."
Alvarez chose to run for Cook County State's Attorney despite being discouraged by Democratic Party regulars, with whom she had little to do despite working in the state's attorney's office when it was headed by former Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley.
She was asked what her advice would be to the young daughters of the women in attendance.
"Don't let a boy tell you what to do," she said. "That's probably the easiest message. I hate it when I go and talk to young girls and see some who don't have any desire to go further or get a degree.
"I wish all of our kids would have that desire, particularly the girls," Alvarez added. "There is more out there and education is the key. It opens doors and puts you on a level playing field."
In addition to her work with Northern Trust and the Metropolitan Club of Chicago, where she serves on the board of governors, Lindsey is the national board president of the Girl Scouts of the USA. She was asked which cookie was her favorite, but diplomatically refused to pick just one.
Lindsey urged the audience to "turn someday into today."
"I am convinced that most of us suffer from 'Intention Deficit Disorder,'" she said. "Intention is not action. Get rid of your 'Intention Deficit Disorder" and get moving on the things that really matter to you."