22/12/2015 11:26 GMT | Updated 22/12/2016 05:12 GMT

Women in Business Q&A: Adrienne Eckert Petersen, Founder, Skirt PR

A graduate of Purdue University with a B.A. in communications with a public relations concentration and minor in English, Adrienne Eckert Petersen originally began her public relations career in New York City. After roles at several esteemed agencies, she launched Skirt PR at age 25. Skirt PR is a Chicago-based boutique public relations, social media and event management agency that creates and cultivates brand awareness. Skirt has represented a variety of notable brands such as Birchbox, Rent the Runway, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Warby Parker, and Conde Nast Publications, to name a few. Now as the CEO, Adrienne oversees the growth and management of the agency and brand. In addition to her career, Adrienne is a loving mother to two small children and a wife to one tall, child-like husband. She also serves on numerous charitable boards.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

My parents taught me strong work ethics and values, which stay with me today. As soon as I was old enough to "have a job," I always worked.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Skirt PR?

Before starting Skirt PR, I had the opportunity to work at a small boutique agency in New York and a large corporate agency in Chicago. Each job gave me invaluable experience with a myriad of clients and showed me what life is like at both big and small agencies. This gave me a broad background when deciding what my agency's niche would be.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Skirt PR?

Highlights have always been my team and our clients. My amazing staff and I have worked with some of the best brands in the business. Challenges stemmed from starting as an "entrepreneurial publicist" and morphing into a "CEO," doing and learning everything along the way.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?

Be tenacious. Be humble. Always accept any position at an agency that you really want to join... it's a foot in the door. You can prove yourself once you're there!

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?

Same lesson I learned in college - don't write anything down that you don't want anyone else to see.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

It's difficult, but having a great team who you can lean on in times of need is important. Also, having a supportive husband also helps!

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

Having (and being) a good role model sets the course for so many others. You never know how your actions, or the actions of others, will inspire women around you.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

I admire Gloria Steinem for her work in paving the course for women. Also, my mom is the strongest and smartest person I know. She has been the most incredible role model anyone could hope for.

What do you want Skirt PR to accomplish in the next year?

I'm so proud of what Skirt has accomplished to date. My goal in the next year is to continue the growth and success we've built over the last 12 years. Several years ago, we saw the growing need for social and digital support with clients and dedicated a department to it. We are rapidly becoming known for the quality of our social media campaigns, as well as our traditional public relations efforts.