During March, the Salt Lake Chamber is highlighting influential women in Utah. By sharing their stories and advice, we hope to bring awareness to the importance of Women’s History Month.
Ellen Winkler has many titles, one of which being Chief Visionary Officer at Q Factor/INDUSTRY. On her business card, though, it simply says “Queen Bee.” For Ellen, Women’s History Month is a time to appreciate women, especially working mothers and women in male-dominated fields. Here’s what she has to say about mentors, success, and balancing work and family:
Women’s History Month is an opportunity to appreciate women who have made a difference in our lives. Do you have any female mentors who have helped you in your career?
I have worked in three different careers, all of them in male-dominated fields. I have always worked mostly with men, especially now that I live and work in Utah. So when I think about who my mentors are, it starts with my mother. My mother got her Master’s degree when I was in 1st grade, and then started her own construction company. Watching my working mother balance work and family is where I got my know-how. Now, I have three children and a pretty big career. I’m lucky to have had her as my first mentor.
Once I started to make it as a developer, I met a woman who was a landscape architect. She mentored me, not about the work aspect, but about how to be a really good working mother. I knew how to do the work, but I needed mentoring on how to balance a big career without leaving what’s important behind.
What advice would you give to other women who are balancing work and family?
I would say this: it’s okay for women to be messy. There’s this idea that you have to make your life look Instagram picture-perfect, but that’s not fair to other women. Life isn’t perfect – it’s messy, especially behind the scenes. Jump in and help each other. What really helps women is showing them that nothing is perfect. We need to make sure that we give back and teach younger women that what they want is achievable, but it’s okay to be messy along the way.
Find yourself a mentor. It doesn’t have to be someone who has a bigger career than you, either. Just let them shepherd you back. I knew how to lead myself. I just needed a little guidance here and there to look at things differently.
What does success mean to you?
There’s success in the business world, awards and prizes, and acknowledgments, but that’s all just on paper. Who cares? To me, true success is that my kids are amazing, total rockstar individuals. To me, that is a huge success. Then the other successful thing for me has to do with being a planner. To me, success is planning a city that has something for everyone. I want people to be out, having fun, and communicating with each other. I want people to be part of a neighborhood that gives them a sense of home and community. That’s what I’m good at – watching people come downtown again, having fun, and living what we call the “Salt Lake City lifestyle.” Making sure we build a brilliant vibrant city – that’s the real success.
*Stay updated on more stories, events and information on Women’s History Month by visiting the Salt Lake Chamber’s Women’s History Month website and engaging in our weekly challenges.