Bonnie Marcus didn't know how to balance her checkbook when she started her career in an entry-level position for a management company.
Now, Marcus is president of Women's Success Coaching and helps women start and grow their own careers.
Also, she is one of two keynote speakers at the Women's Business & Leadership Conference, put on by Women Leading Kentucky. The theme for this year's conference is "Embrace Your Ambition."
Marcus started Women's Success Coaching in 2007 and helps women unlock their potential.
"There are a lot of things that hold us back: not knowing what we want, managing our jobs and not our careers, and fear of failure, or even of success," said Marcus.
The other keynote speaker is Alexis Jones, founder of I Am That Girl. Jones has worked for Fox Sports, ESPN, was on the CBS reality TV show Survivor and was a coach for the MTV show MADE. Jones' work is focused on empowering youth.
Marcus and Jones were chosen as speakers for the conference because they are both at the top of their professions, said Carol Siler, executive director of Women Leading Kentucky.
Jones brings the emotional appeal, said Siler.
"We really liked Alexis' focus on young girls and that support system that she is building for young girls as they grow to love and express themselves," Siler said.
Marcus, who is the author of The Politics of Promotion: How High Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead, can help women learn how to climb the corporate ladder, said Siler.
"Her success has been remarkable. She has so much insight into how women can achieve professionally."
Part of Marcus' emphasis is on the gender gap that exists between men's and women's wages.
"The gender gap is of course real," said Marcus. She said that women have to face the reality that they might encounter unconscious gender biases and stereotypes compared to men of equal qualifications.
"The responsibility that women have is to understand their value," said Marcus.
Women often fail to negotiate that first salary, which eventually results in about a $1 million deficiency because their other salaries will be based off that first one, she said.
The Women's Business and Leadership Conference is important, Marcus said, because it is a networking opportunity, and women can learn from each other and build relationships that will help them in the future.
The event will also honor three Kentucky women for their achievements in their professional and personal lives: Debra Hensley, owner of a Lexington State Farm Insurance branch; Audrey Tayse Haynes, Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services; and Diane Medley, managing partner and co-founder of Mountjoy Chilton Medley LLP.