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How She Got There: Katie Thiede, CEO of Bright Pink


Name: Katie Thiede
Age: 36
Job Title and Description: CEO, Bright Pink   
College: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Major: Communications with a Certificate in Women's Studies
Website:BrightPink.org, AssessYourRisk.org 
Twitter Handle: BeBrightPink
Instagram Handle: BeBrightPink 

What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

KT: As the CEO of Bright Pink, I’m responsible for setting and articulating the vision for the organization and overseeing the strategy, management, and execution of the organization’s work.  There really is no such thing as a “typical” day but most days include multiple calls and meetings with Bright Pink’s key stakeholders and prospective supporters and sometimes a speaking engagement related to spreading Bright Pink’s message.  Most days also include check-ins with staff, especially the senior team, on opportunities and challenges we’re facing.  I often find that after the office closes, the real work begins. I love attending events and networking with other women’s health advocates in the evening and after an inspiring and action-packed day, it’s always great to spend some time at home reflecting, outlining next steps, and thinking about the work ahead.

What is the best part of your job?

KT: That is a really hard question because there are so many great parts of my job.  I love having the opportunity to talk with Bright Pink’s supporters, champions, and partners about the work we do and the impact we can have together.  I also love having the opportunity to build great teams by supporting smart, ambitious, curious individuals to be their personal and professional best.  I try to be a talent-magnet.

What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?

KT: My first job in the non-profit sector was as a community organizer and fundraiser for an environmental organization.  I got the job by responding to a classified ad in the newspaper!  I fell in love with campaigning and fundraising.  I have always felt it was a huge privilege to give individuals an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than themselves and accomplish something together that no one could do just on their own.

What words of wisdom (well-known quotes, an anecdote from your boss) do you find most valuable?

KT: A couple years ago, I heard a very successful CEO speak at Chicago Ideas Week and he shared something that has always stuck with me. He said that as the CEO, “You bring the weather.”  He went on to share that while sometimes the forecast calls for a thunderstorm, most days you should bring the sunshine.  I think it’s so important to keep in mind that as a leader, you are responsible for setting the climate.

What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

KT: Earlier in my career, when I was a new manager, I didn’t spend nearly enough time offering feedback.  If a member of my team struggled with an assignment, I would often re-work it on my own rather than spend the time to share what needed to be improved.  I quickly learned that giving feedback early and often is the best way to support professional development and gauge aptitude for growth and learning.. This also helps me stay focused on spending the most amount of my time on work that only I can do.

What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?

KT: Speaking at the Women’s March on Chicago in January 2017 was an incredible highlight. It was a huge privilege to be a part of such an historic event and to share the stage with so many of my personal sheroes!

What do you look for when considering hiring someone?

KT: I often say that I always try to hire people who are smarter than I am.  I’ve always had a preference for working with individuals who are critical thinkers, problem solvers, driven by impact, fans of data, and comfortable working on the cusp of their professional abilities.

What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

KT: Pursue your passion over everything else.  I wholeheartedly believe that to be successful you must love what you do.  Most days I find myself run-walking or soft-jogging to my office because I’m so excited to start the work day and I am incredibly aware of how special that is.  As a fundraising and development professional, I have always put a priority on cultivating relationships that begin with mission over money.

What's the one thing that's stood out to you the most in a resume?

KT: When reviewing resumes, I’m always much more interested in learning what someone’s key accomplishments have been rather than their functions.  It’s always especially helpful when a resume can quantify success or growth in a particular area of work.

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