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Former Caterpillar executive now coaches millennials

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Mentoring Women Millennials
Kathryn Spitznagle

Kathryn Spitznagle was often the only woman in the room as she moved up the corporate ladder at Caterpillar Inc.

As a result, she routinely reached out to other women at the company. Mentoring came easily. Having retired from the company in 2019, Spitznagle started up her own company, Mentoring Women Millennials.

It’s an effort to guide young women who may be facing some of the same problems she faced in a professional career of over 30 years with companies like Purina, where she first learned about mentoring, and Caterpillar, where she worked for more than 20 years.

“They can learn from what I did as well as my mistakes,” said Spitznagle.

“Companies come to me, particularly in male-dominated industries such as building and construction, to help women along,” she said. Male-dominated businesses aren’t always the ones that first come to mind, said Spitznagle. “Take fashion, for example, you think of all the women models up on the runway but it’s really very male-dominated,” she said.

“We’re seeing more women in corporate roles but the workplace is still very male-dominated,” said Spitznagle, whose book, “Rock Star Millennials—Developing the Next Generation of Leaders,” was published in 2020. She later added a companion workbook.

Spitznagle said the book explores what millennials might want from a boss and company as well as what skills to learn. She credits women she mentored over the years with helping her get started in her own business.

While she outlined five millennials in the book, there are many more with stories to be told, said Spitznagle, who has been doing podcasts now for the past three years.

When conducting a mentoring session, Spitznagle said she starts by asking, “What are we celebrating today?” “It’s a great way to start a conversation,” she said.

The next step is working to help organize, set goals, while the third area is dealing with the overwhelming side of work, the challenges being faced, said Spitznagle.

Podcasts are available at mentoringwomenmillennials.com.

Steve Tarter retired from the Peoria Journal Star in 2019 after spending 20 years at the paper as both reporter and business editor.