Sherrie Brown Littlejohn (M.S. CS ’82) shared some of her work experiences during the “Hawk Talk Panel Discussion: From the Perspective of Powerful Women” held by the IIT Alumni Association on March 24 in Hermann Hall.
Littlejohn is an Illinois Institute of Technology trustee, member of the alumni board of directors, and executive vice president, Internal Innovation Strategies, Innovation Group at Wells Fargo. At Wells Fargo, she leads patents, technology partnerships and business development, and innovation labs. Previously, she was head of technology strategy, architecture and innovation; head of enterprise architecture and IT strategy; and head of network services and operations.
Littlejohn told an audience of staff, students, and faculty that in her first job at Bell Labs, at age 22, she often was the only woman in meetings “and the only one who didn’t have white hair.”
She urged students to assert themselves and believe in themselves. “We have to know we’re great,” she said. “It breeds confidence in others. Sometimes we are our limiting factor – what we believe about ourselves.”
Although shy growing up and still a quiet person today, she said, she discovered that she loves to make things happen, to make order out of chaos, and to do new things. “So my career has been about those things,” she said. She encouraged students to aim high: “I tell students this all the time: In your first interviews, you have the opportunity to say what you want. Be bold!”
Moderated by Provost Frances Bronet, the panel also included Marguerite Clarke, vice president of CZ Consulting Services; Thuy Pisone, chief operating officer of Orbis Technologies; Illinois Tech alumna Dawn Schuette (ARCH CRP ’92, MAS CRP ’93), partner at Threshold Acoustics; and Jill York, vice president of MB Financial, Inc., and executive vice president, Specialty Banking and M&A of MB Financial Bank.
You can see more alumni association events here.