Businesswomen blazing paths for others
Panel shares lessons learned, advice

By Katherine Michalets - Special to The Freeman

Nov. 7, 2014

DUECO Chief Operating Officer Marikris Coryell, center, shares her experiences of being a businesswoman Thursday while Gloria Henderson, president of D&G Insulation Inc., left, and Ellen Zilli, founder of Zilli Hospitality Group, right, listen. The panel was part of the Women and Girls Fund 'An Evening of Inspiration' held at DUECO.  
Katherine Michalets/Special to The Freeman

WAUKESHA - A trailblazer is defined as one who guides others, is a pathfinder and a pioneer, Waukesha County Business Alliance President Suzanne Kelley said during a panel discussion with five Waukesha County women who were awarded Wisconsin Trailblazer awards in 2014.

She then asked the women, Judie Taylor and Marikris Coryell of DUECO, Gloria Henderson of D&G Insulation Inc., Christine Toson Hentges of The Tribute Companies and Ellen Zilli of Zilli Hospitality Group what it means to them to be a trailblazer.

Zilli said she has learned while running a successful catering business for decades, it’s about respecting the people you work for and those who work for you. She also said during that time, she raised a family and business leaders.

For Coryell, chief operating officer at DUECO, it means being innovative, creative and thinking outside of the box. It’s also always about respect, she said, and making sure to spend time with your family.

Toson Hentges said it’s important to “vocalize your opinions when they are not always welcomed.” She said never accept mediocrity and evolve continually.

Presented by the Women and Girls Fund on Thursday at DUECO, the “Evening of Inspiration” focused on what these successful businesswomen have learned.

One audience member asked for advice on how to mentor young women.

Henderson said it’s important for young women to become confident and to be strong.

Taylor had the practical advice of learning what body language to use as a professional woman who might have to negotiate or work with men. A woman should avoid tilting her head or nodding, she said. It’s also important to leave drama at home, Taylor added.

When asked about their passions, Toson Hentges said she wants to change how Americans view death. The Tribute Companies offer architectural design and planning services to cemeteries and funeral homes.

Zilli said her personal passion is to grow people and her professional passion is to provide excellent customer service.

When Taylor, president and CEO of DUECO, drives into the parking lot of the company and sees a new pickup truck, she said she feels happy because she knows that an employee can afford his or her passion.

“Whatever you are doing in life, have the passion to do it well,” she said.