MBA '96; director of community affairs at the Illinois Housing Development Authority
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
At the ocean with the one I love, enjoying a great meal.
What is your greatest fear?
Running out of time before I accomplish and experience everything I’d like to in life.
Which talent would you most like to have?
To be an excellent singer.
Who are your heroes in real life?
- My grandparents who came to America with virtually nothing and made a good life for themselves by working hard and saving to get ahead.
- My parents, who taught me to get a good education and not live beyond my means.
- The people close to me who courageously battled cancer and who have shown me the true meaning of grace.
What qualities do you most admire in business professionals?
Authenticity; a strong work ethic; intelligence but with a good dose of common sense; creativity; a pleasant disposition; punctuality.
Which qualities do you dislike?
Self-importance; greediness; dishonesty.
What is the best advice you can offer to young women and men as they start their careers?
- Do your homework: know about a company and key personnel. A vast amount of information about a company is available online. Don’t ask the basic questions that could be answered on your own by doing a little research. This will help you ask more intelligent questions.
- Volunteer. Meeting people outside your immediate universe is invaluable. Volunteer for a nonprofit whose mission resonates with you; volunteer for a campaign for an elected official or judicial candidate. We need good, reasoned public officials in office and on the bench. We are a nation of laws; we should care about who is making decisions for us.
Your top three networking tips?
- See No. 2 above.
- Stand up straight, make eye contact, and don’t have a wishy-washy handshake.
- Send a handwritten thank you note when appropriate. Be brief and sincere. In this day and age, a handwritten note blows an e-mail out of the water and helps you stand out.
Connect with Nicki on LinkedIn.