Leaning in Together

Leaning in Together

By Brittany Grosser-Basile, Student Reporter

Ilene Gordon and Bram Bluestein visited Loyola’s Baumhart Center on Monday to discuss how two people can lead high-impact careers together.

The pair “leaned in” together through almost four decades of marriage, raising two children, supporting two grandchildren, and embracing two extraordinary careers. The couple met while working at Boston Consulting Group. Gordon ultimately became the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and Bluestein held senior leadership positions at highly-respected consulting firms.

The event opened with context on why this conversation was so important. Currently, less than 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women and one of many factors behind this trend is that women are more often asked to make tradeoffs between their career and their family as their children grow up. The conversation thus focused on an example of a couple that had successfully navigated these challenges together.

While this was only one couple and one model, there were numerous themes that can be applied to many other relationships. The couple said they had a total of ten lessons and they went into depth on three of them:

Marry a supportive partner

The couple emphasized how important it is for your life partner to have similar values to you. Gordon said that you know you have found a good partner when “you can tell they relish your success.”

Gordon described a promotion in her career that would require her to travel regularly to Paris. She was questioning whether to take the opportunity when her husband encouraged her to embrace it. “He was supportive because he knew what was required to be successful and he was always rooting for my success.”

Pick a location where both careers can thrive

Gordon and Bluestein have chosen to live in Chicago for decades because this city has been a good fit for both of their careers. “You have to live in a city where there are equal opportunities for both of you,” Bluestein said. He described having promotional opportunities that would have required their family to relocate to smaller cities and they turned them down because the cities did not provide leadership opportunities to both of them.

Build a strong support system

Two-career couples who seek to have a family need a strong support system. “[We were] inventive and creative to create the support network” to be successful, Gordon said. For example, the couple hired live-in nannies who would be true partners in their family. “One of my tenets,” Gordon said, “is surround yourself with people who support what you’re doing and are not judgmental.”

Ilene and Bram are planning a nationwide tour to share their story and example. Many audience members shared they are looking forward to hearing the rest of the lessons from this extraordinary couple.