Written by Jan Jaben-Eilon Tuesday, February 14 2012Snapshot: Amy Dordek Dolinsky, Managing Director, Midwest for BPI Group
Amy Dordek Dolinsky has been actively involved in the Chicago business community for more than 25 years. She joined BPI Group, a global HR consulting firm in 2009, bringing extensive experience in business development, marketing and sales in the professional services industry. She is the highest-ranking woman in the U.S., serving as a market leader, national account manager, as well as a member of the operating and management team.
In her current role, Amy manages the Midwest region as well as key client relationships, while also spearheading account management and marketing activities. Prior to joining BPI group, Dordek Dolinsky was a client relationship manager for a human resources consulting firm, Capital H Group. She was also a vice president of business development for an accounting and finance consulting firm for 10 years earlier in her career.
Dordek Dolinksy, along with her husband, ABC 7 Chicago’s Food Reporter Steve Dolinsky, enjoys culinary travel around the world with their two children, Madeline and Max.
Womenetics: You have worked in human resources. What advice would you give to women looking for a job in today’s economy?
Amy Dordek Dolinsky: The advice I would give women would be similar to the advice I give men. First you need make sure that you conduct an inventory of all of your accomplishments and achievements so that you can paint a picture of who you are and what you’ve done. I also advise people to test the market to make sure that all of what they have to say about themselves is relevant and current. This means you look at the job boards and postings to make sure that what you say about yourself and your experience matches what the market is looking for in that particular function or industry.
I also recommend that people use the various social networking tools to their advantage, especially LinkedIn. Many people have a profile, but it may not be complete, and they are not really using it to its full potential. We joke that they are “on it” but not “in it.”
Also, sometimes women aren’t as good at promoting themselves or networking to leverage their contacts. They may not want to ask for help. I say, people love to be asked for advice and help, if you do it in the right way. You’ll be surprised. Many people don’t realize how helpful their networks can be and how most people today find jobs not through job boards but through networking. I always suggest people start with the places they feel most comfortable -- like their places of worship, their alumni groups, their old colleagues -- and go from there.
I’ve also recommended people read an interesting article called “Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg” by Malcolm Gladwell that was featured many years ago in The New Yorker. It’s the article that preceded his book, “The Tipping Point.” It offers an interesting perspective on the concept of how connections and creating different circles of influence matter.
Womenetics: From an employer’s point of view, what makes a good candidate?
Dordek Dolinsky: A good candidate is someone who shares details and specific examples when answering questions about themselves. I’ve always been impressed when people share interesting and specific examples of how they have been successful in a past position. That is the key to what we call “behavioral interviewing:” demonstration of past performance for a similar position.
It’s also good when people say “I” versus “we” in an interview. I always want to know what a candidate did themselves, even if they made a mistake or learned something versus someone who always says “we” because I question what they actually did or the role they did or didn’t play.
A good candidate is someone who appears composed, even if they are not on the inside. Everyone should do their research beforehand, not just on the company but also on the person/people they are meeting. I like when someone smiles or engages me, not just answers the questions but creates a conversation. The most important thing is to be a good match both for the position and for the culture. Most people fail not because they can’t do the actual job or because they lack technical experience but because they don’t fit the culture.
Womenetics: You co-founded TradeStar Expo, a trade show exhibit manufacturing and consulting firm and later sold it. Do you miss being an entrepreneur?
Dordek Dolinsky: I feel like I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire career. Since TradeStar Expo, I have joined several organizations that have allowed me to maintain my entrepreneurial spirit. The Johnsson Group was a startup that I joined after TradeStar, and I helped grow this small accounting and finance consulting to approximately $12 million and then sold it to a French consulting conglomerate. After that I was an investor and one of the first employees of another start-up consulting firm, Capital H Group.
Joining BPI group in growth mode in the U.S. is another exciting opportunity where I can contribute with my experience as we expand in the Midwest and nationally. Although I may be working for a bigger, global organization, that spirit, that need to wear many different hats and roll up your sleeves to make something happen never really goes away no matter where you go. I’ve always joined organizations that have valued that in me. My relationship-building skills, energy and “can-do” attitude were what they were looking for.
Womenetics: You served on the Executive Committee of Reading is Fundamental in Chicago. I understand that you practice what you preach and read to your children every night. Is that correct?
Dordek Dolinsky: I do still read with my children every night. It’s a ritual even though they are 14 and 11. Now that we’re on adult level books, I am just as hooked on the stories as my kids. My daughter and I are racing to finish “Big Miracle” before the movie comes out because the books are always better than the movies. More details!
Womenetics: How do you find time to participate in leadership roles in the community, while filling a demanding professional position and being a mother and wife?
Dordek Dolinsky: Balance is the key to life, and in the end, it’s never perfect no matter how well I try to prioritize. I’m pretty organized, so that helps. But I get a lot of support from my husband, family and colleagues. It requires teamwork on every level. My kids have developed a sense of independence that will serve them well in life.
But my husband is helping me to practice the word “no.” I’m not very good at saying no. My husband just made me read an article about collecting friends and letting some go. Again, it is all about balance and understanding what is most important to you at different times of your life.
I have learned a lot from my leadership roles in non-profit organizations, which I’ve applied to my job or career. Sometimes this is the leadership or career development that you don’t get in your job if your company doesn’t offer training, and it can be incredibly beneficial.
People often ask me how I do it, especially women who may be thinking of starting a family but are at critical moments in their careers. There is never a perfect time for anything. If you plan too much, you’ll never get things done, so I always tell women to just go for it. You’ll figure it out later.
I promise that people will figure out the balance that is right for them.
I have to try to keep this quote in mind: “Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.” - Barbara de Angelis
And also: “You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.” - Charles Buxton
Womenetics: What keeps you up at night?
Dordek Dolinsky: The sounds of sirens in the city keep me up at night! No, seriously, what keeps me up at night is worrying about balance and finding the time for everything. Quality time with my husband, kids, family is most important. I go to bed mentally checking everything off in my head from the day and then planning for the day ahead, and that often keeps me from getting a good night’s sleep. I always hope that I’m the best I can be for everyone in my life, and it sometimes creates expectations that I can’t always meet. I can’t wait for the device that pulls things out of your head and does them for you so that I could focus on the most important things and let the little things go.
Womenetics: What do you most hope for your children?
Dordek Dolinsky: I want my children to be confident and independent. I want them to contribute in a way that makes a difference but also be able to support themselves. We always joke about the fact that they are going to work as soon as they are legally able! It’s such good experience for kids to learn from work. I meet with so many young people who are job hunting, and I love when someone comes in and is self-assured, prepared, articulate and a go-getter.
My kids have gone to Montessori school (where play and lessons are all called “work”), and I love the idea of educating my kids to be part of a global community where independence, freedom within limits and respect for others is emphasized. We just had a parent-teacher conference for our daughter, and we said it was one of the best experiences we have ever had as parents because the teacher told us that she’s a kind, hardworking, whole person who may struggle in math, but given her many other talents, she just needs to let it go. She’ll do great things regardless.
What great advice: play to your strengths, and let the other stuff go.
Womenetics: What are your hobbies?
Dordek Dolinsky: I love to travel with my family and experience the culinary and cultural experiences that each city and country has to offer. I’m small in stature so I like to/have to work out with a trainer and do enjoy hot yoga at Core Power Yoga. This all enables me to keep up with the food and cocktail adventures in my life.
Womenetics: Who was the biggest influence in your life?
Dordek Dolinsky: My parents and my first boss, Marilyn Lissner. My parents get top billing, certainly, as they simply are the best parents in the world. You can ask anyone who knows them. They were present and involved (to this day), wise, energetic, supportive and gave all three of their children a ton of self-confidence. We weren’t coddled but were loved and told we could do anything we set our minds to, but it would take work. I was and am a high-energy person, and they helped me channel it appropriately. They joked that I was a little tornado that they knew some day would make a positive impact. They made sure of it!
Following closely behind my parents was my first boss, mentor and now friend -- Marilyn Lissner. She was one of the first women in commercial real estate. Most women stayed in residential. She and her partner were two of the first women brokers and the only women I had ever met that wore pantsuits. That was pretty provocative in the late 80s and early 90s as those were still the days of “Dress for Success” where women wore skirts and jackets.
She has a great mind for business but leveraged her experience as a teacher and mom to her clients' advantage. Everyone who has worked with me knows some of my Marilyn stories because she said things like, “Make sure you get the agreement in writing because you want to protect your client if you should get hit by a bus.” Such a Jewish mother thing to say! Or, “If you don’t get a meeting with that person someone else will - don’t be afraid and just make the call. What’s the worst that can happen? They can just say no.” So many things like that stay with me today.
Marilyn taught me how to be tough yet kind, a client advocate and, above all, to maintain one’s integrity. Clients love her because she goes the extra mile for them and does a little mothering/nurturing along the way. I’m sure many people in the commercial real estate industry would say that they have learned from her. I mentioned her to an old friend recently, and we both smiled when talking about her. She’s still in the business and going strong.
|The 6th Annual Pig & Pinot|
Dordek Dolinsky: We host an event that’s now called “Pig & Pinot” at the end of August every summer. We started it to celebrate my husband’s birthday, which is the end of August. Last year was the 6th Annual Pig & Pinot. It all started with this crazy pig roast box called The La Caja China. My husband’s good friend, Rick Cooper, has one of these boxes, and he and my husband wanted to try to cook a pig in this box with a few chef friends. Rick is a music industry professional and an investor in several Chicago restaurants, which is how he met my husband. Also because of my husband’s job, we eat out at many restaurants and have become friends with chefs and restaurant industry professionals both here in Chicago and nationally.
Another reason we originally hosted the pig roast was to entertain the chefs in our home. They so often entertain us and because at the core, every chef truly loves to feed people. We wanted to repay the favor and feed them! So the first year we ended up hosting about 100 people – mostly friends, neighbors and restaurant and music industry people – and it’s grown from there.
Two years ago it became too big, and we had about 500 people. People we invited then invited their friends and so on. It was crazy. We do the entire event in the alley behind our house which is why we can entertain such a large group. The invite says, “You bring the wine (Pinot or other). We’ll bring the swine (sides, etc.).” Pastry chefs sometimes bring cupcakes or cookies, mixologists bring cocktails and on and on. It’s become this huge, crazy almost pot luck-like event.
Jan Jaben-Eilon was a founding staff writer of the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Since then, she has been the international editor of Advertising Age magazine and has written for such publications as The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Washington Journalism Review, and Consumer Reports. She is the author of soon-to-be-published (There is) Life After Cancer. Jan and her husband have homes in Atlanta and Jerusalem.