#MakeYourMark: Q&A with Y-Vonne Hutchinson

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s International Women’s Day Forum on March 5, we’re highlighting 10 inspiring leaders who have made their mark in advancing opportunities for women and girls. Y-Vonne Hutchinson is the founder of Ready Set, a diversity solutions firm based in Oakland, CA, and a co-founder/adviser of Project Include.

Who is your role model and why? 

I have many role models, many people I try to learn from. One of the women I most admire is fellow Texan, Representative Barbara Jordan. She was the first African American state senator since 1883, the first black woman in America to preside over a legislative body, and one of the first African Americans from the deep south elected to Congress in the 20th century. She was also an amazing orator. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the power of speech and its ability to educate, unify, and inspire. I certainly don't agree with all of her political stances, but admire her strength and integrity. 

What’s the most important lesson you learned in your career? 

Oh so many! The most important one has been to be authentic and listen to my gut. I spent so much of my career trying to change myself to the person others wanted me to be, and nothing ever came of it. As a woman-owned business, people will try to make you doubt yourself. My biggest regrets have come from listening to that doubt rather than myself. 

What advice would you give young women today?

Look, it's harder for many of us to succeed because the world of business is still biased. Let's not pretend otherwise. But success on our terms is still very much within our reach. Work hard, be consistently good, treat others well, and follow through. This is very much a marathon and not a race. Oh and while you're running this marathon, don't forget to take care of yourself and those you love.

Y-Vonne Hutchinson spoke at last year's International Women's Day Forum. Join us this year for the 10th Annual International Women’s Day Forum: Marking a Milestone, Continuing the Momentum on March 5 in New York City. Explore the full agenda and register now to save your spot.