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The Chicago Business Journal named 50 honorees for its 2016 class of Women of Influence honorees. The program recognizes women business leaders in the Chicago area who innovate, succeed and “pay it forward.” In the days ahead, we’ll be giving readers a chance to hear directly from these women.

Alison Gutterman, president, Jelmar, LLC.


Tell us about your family: I’m the single mother of two amazing kids, Michaela, 9 and Eli, 6. I adopted both children. My daughter is from Guatemala and my son was born in Houston, Texas. I love that I am part of a multicultural family, with both a daughter of Latina decent and an African American son.

Where were you born? St. Louis, Missouri.

The one word that describes you: Passionate. If I am truly interested in a cause, product or idea, you will be able to tell by how enthusiastically I communicate my thoughts to others.

What was your first job and what did you learn from it? I had a few jobs in high school – working at the local library (an unusual one since I can be a bit of a chatter box), but the first one that really taught me skills that I would later on use was at a retail chain. I learned how important customer service is to a company and its success. That lesson helped me tremendously when my first responsibility at Jelmar was to read customer service letters and answer customer calls. To this day, we still have a great deal of personal interaction with the people who use our products.

What is your proudest career accomplishment? When I joined Jelmar, I worried my colleagues would dismiss me as just the boss’ kid. My dad made me earn every promotion and every privilege I received in my career, just as everyone else at the company. If anything, I had to work harder than everyone else to prove myself. So once I finally did, and my dad felt comfortable enough to step back and award me with his role, the achievement was that much more significant.

Click here to read the full interview.

Originally posted on Women Presidents' Organization by Women Presidents' Organization.

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