• Chicago

Cushman & Wakefield Chicago WIN Panel: What I Got Right and Wrong as a Working Mom

By: Gina Dardi, WIN Co-Chair and Sr. Manager, Global Communications and Alex Brody
WIN Co-Chair and Associate Broker

Last week Cushman & Wakefield Chicago’s Women’s Integrated Network (WIN) hosted a speaking session highlighting issues that affect women in business titled, “What I Got Right and Wrong as a Working Mom.” Panelists included:

  • Barbara J. Hazlett, MBA, Director of Market Operations, Chicago
  • Marilyn Lissner, Executive Director, Chicago Office Brokerage
  • Vicki Noonan, Chicago Managing Principal
  • Tricia Trester, Executive Vice President, Enterprise Client Solutions
  • Laura Vester, Vice President, Marketing, Platform & Service Delivery

WIN’s mission is to develop and support the talents of our women team members and have meaningful impact on the firm’s performance. Cushman & Wakefield believes in the power of embracing diversity and inclusion to transform our attitudes, our firm and our industry to the benefit of all.

Selected questions and answers from our panel are below.

How do you balance being a working mom? What are the hardest and most rewarding parts?

  • Marilyn: There is no such thing as work-life balance. If you want to succeed, you must give your business all it takes and get rid of the guilt. Be organized, but don’t think you can have it all.
  • Vicki: There was more balance before cellphones. Now work is 24/7, so you must be disciplined about when to look at your phone and when to turn it off.
  • Laura: Because we are all on all the time, communication is key. Communicate to your team when you are going to be available and stick to it – for your team, for your family and your sanity.

What advice would you give working moms coming back to the workforce after maternity leave?

  • Laura: Communication. The tendency is to want to do everything immediately when you get back and take on new challenges. You need to establish balance first. Work with your team to understand what will work with the new balance of having a family.
  • Tricia: I remember being in early labor on a conference call, and the team asked if we could circle up again in a few hours. I had to say no. Enjoy your maternity leave. Really shut everything down during that period because you won’t get it back.

How do you remind yourselves you are strong women?

  • Barbara: I stop and think of everything I’ve overcome over the years. I think of the obstacles I’ve had to face, and I know I survived.
  • Marilyn: Hopefully, one way is that you have great friends or a husband who tells you how strong you are, and you get confidence from that. It’s most important to be true to yourselves and recognize your strengths.
  • Vicki: Look to your friends and colleagues, and they will boost you up. I don’t think of myself as strong, but I know I deal with a lot of stuff and some things are more emotional than others. I go for a walk or I take five minutes when I need it. I go to bed early when I need it, and that helps with balance.
  • Laura: Strength has many meanings, so focus on your version of strong. For me, it’s taking time for myself. This business is very collaborative, so sometimes you need to take a moment for yourself.

Are there things you wish you’d done before you had children or still want to accomplish?

  • Vicki: I was so focused to getting to the next place in my career that I didn’t travel. I applaud kids who take a break year between school and working and wish I would have taken a step back to evaluate my life and do that.
  • Barbara: I wish I had completed my full education because going back to school as a working mom was tough. I also wish I would have done more traveling because it’s a great form of education.
  • Tricia: I spent so much of my early career head-down, focused on my work and hoping it was perfect that I didn’t network with people in the organization. Getting that sponsorship from the people around you is so important.

How do you define success in your life and career?

  • Vicki: Business-wise, I’ve had lots of success, but I didn’t speak up loud enough for many parts of my career. In hindsight, my network got me here. Success is what makes you happy and shouldn’t be defined by what others think.
  • Marilyn: Success is measured by the people you love wanting to be around you. Also, the point Vicki made about networking is very important. Being one of the founders of CREW Chicago made me feel successful because you really establish that network of women who support you.
  • Laura: Happiness and success go hand in hand. If you’ve found happiness in your life, you’re probably very successful.
  • Tricia: Having happy and healthy kids at home. Professionally, I was so highly ambitious early on, but now I just focus on loving what I do. I love solving clients’ problems. I’m content doing it.

 Gina Dardi is the Senior Manager of Global Communications and Marketing at Cushman & Wakefield. Dardi is a member of the global marketing team and leads corporate marcomm initiatives for the Global Occupier Services (GOS) business.



Alex Brody joined Cushman & Wakefield as an associate broker specializing in industrial tenant representation with a focus in multi-market portfolio services for local and national corporate accounts. Her client industries range from manufacturing, distribution, logistics, and diversified firms.

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