How This 24-Year-Old Former NYSE Equity Trader Made History
LinkedIn

At 22 years old, Lauren Simmons shattered the glass ceiling by being the youngest and only full-time female equity trader on Wall Street for Rosenblatt Securities. Affectionately dubbed as the “Lone Woman On Wall Street”, Simmons was also the second African-American woman in history to sport the prestigious badge.

Graduating Kennesaw State University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in genetics and a minor in statistics, Simmons originally aspired to go into genetic counseling. She made a decision to put that on hold. What had not changed, however, was her passion to move to New York City, where networking led her to meet Richard Rosenblatt, the CEO of Rosenblatt Securities. Beyond her many qualifications, it was ultimately Simmons’ confidence that led Rosenblatt to take her under his wing as an Equity Trader.

“Being a trader, you make decisions within microseconds,” Simmons said on meeting Rosenblatt, “So I think for him, even for me, the choice of coming onto the trading floor made sense immediately.”

The job wasn’t completely hers; she still had to pass the Series 19 exam, which is a requirement for all floor brokers to earn their badge. This test has a pass rate of 20% in a class of 10. After studying the book cover to cover for a month straight. Lauren Simmons made history. Since her story broke Lauren Simmons has been featured in various media outlets and currently, she has a movie on her journey to Wall Street starring Kiersey Clemons.

I spoke to Simmons about her journey to Wall Street, favorite moments on the trading floor and what the financial service industries can do to increase diversity and inclusion.

Dominique Fluker: Share your career journey. What inspired you to become an Equity Trader on Wall Street?

Lauren Simmons: My journey was the power of networking. I moved to New York with a genetics degree knew I wanted to do something completely different and networked like crazy. I had many people tell me no or that I didn’t have any direction because I was making the switch from genetics to statistics. And although I didn’t know what that role looked like. I was serious about it involving numbers. Ultimately becoming an equity trader was something that chose me. A job was offered to me, and I said yes. And as simple as that decision was most people often don’t say yes to roles that they once did not have training or schooling in.

Fluker: At 22 years old, you became the youngest, only full-time female employee and second-ever African-American woman working as a trader at the New York Stock Exchange. Share your process on how you broke the black ceiling.

Simmons: I never looked at my gender/race/age as a factor. At 22 I became the youngest trader (the media caught on after I had turned 23) or even imagined that I would be making history. I just wanted to do well in the role that I was given. My first month I studied for series 19 for a month straight. Didn’t talk to anyone. Originally the exam was something that anyone could pass. From what I was told you went into a room and they gave you the answers, but after the exchange went public and the exam was administered through FINRA it was a real exam. Many of the advice I was given was to just skim through the headlines of the chapters, and I would be just fine. Considering the fail rate was 80% I studied the book cover to cover. And I passed. Making history I didn’t find out till months later when I signed my name into the book, and an NYSE archivist went in front of the room with the audience and my family and informed the crowd I was the second African American women. And that moment was amazing to share with my family. And also bittersweet that in 225 I was the second African American. Amazing but eerie that things like this are still being accomplished in 2017 or 2000 anything.

Fluker: What did you love most about statistics and working on the New York Stock Exchange?

Simmons: Statistics is a universal language and through my college education of genetics and even using statistics in high school when I was going through the architectural engineering program I fell in love with numbers. Being able to interpret data to relay that information to clients was an exciting process.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Ready for Business
LinkedIn
Christine Keith's Headshot

For some, working in the time of the Coronavirus meant putting the brakes on a fast-paced schedule to follow stay-at-home health orders in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. For others, relocating from the office to working from home meant shifting into overdrive to keep pace with a new normal.

Transportation executive Christine Keith knows what it’s like to live in the fast lane 24/7 while keeping a successful business going and sheltering in place.

Keith is the president of Elite Auto Network Corporation, an auto brokerage firm serving individual clients, public agencies and corporations. Keith’s husband, Todd, founded Elite as a college student in 1987. Keith saw an opportunity to expand Elite’s clientele with a niche market that other auto brokers had overlooked – businesses in need of fleet vehicles. She developed Elite’s commercial division, which handles the fleet vehicle requirements of private, local and state government agencies. Her accounts include Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro), Southern California Gas and the nationwide chain of Davey Tree Expert Company.

Elite Auto Network wasn’t Keith’s first time growing a business through identifying an unfilled market demand. Her father operated a 12-room health clinic in the Boyle Heights community of Los Angeles. Keith frequently accompanied her father to his clinic and later became a physician. The community’s need for affordable healthcare led Keith to expand her family practice into a free clinic. Eventually, the Los Angeles Mission, which had been renting a few of their rooms, offered to lease the entire clinic. Keith agreed and took some time off to learn the operations of her husband’s auto brokerage business. That was 11 years ago.

In March, as schools closed and the quarantine forced most offices to shut their doors, Keith prepared for her staff to work remotely. She readied packets with essential work documents, such as forms and reference guides, for employees to take home. She also issued everyone a desktop computer and had an internet technology professional to secure the system.
“I did all the things we needed to do so we can keep on moving forward remotely,” said Keith.

The mother of two children, ages 13 and 8, now works 12 hours a day and is the primary caretaker for her 93-year-old father. It may be counterintuitive, but Keith says she gets more done each day working from home, now that she has blocks of uninterrupted time.

“I’ve accomplished a lot more because I’m not so distracted with office meetings and people coming in and out asking questions,” said Keith. “So, I’ve been able to focus on things that I’ve wanted to get done.”
Although Keith is one of the lucky ones whose business increased during the pandemic, there are a few key elements that she says put her business in a position to prosper.

The right attitude.

Keith said there are always plenty of things to complain about, but staying grateful is her biggest motivator. She always believed that there were still deals to be made. “I’m a very determined person and it’s just in me to be positive all the way through any situation,” said Keith. “I really believed that our business would flourish and it has.”

Network and education.

When Keith started the commercial fleet division of Elite Auto Network, she didn’t know anything about doing contract work. She certified the business as a Woman Minority Business Enterprise (WMBE), Small Business Enterprise (SBE), Disadvantage Business Enterprise (DBE) and a Local Business Enterprise (LBE). She began going to seminars, conventions, chamber of commerce events, and joined the Southern California Minority Business Development Council. “I said I was going to learn everything I could about contracting and I did,” said Keith.

The first contract she landed was with Davey Tree Expert Company, a large nationwide landscaping company. They have a huge fleet in California and Elite Auto Network provided a lot of their vehicles.

Following-up on bids.

After being awarded a contract with Davey Tree Expert Company, Keith continued submitting bids for work with the State of California and Los Angeles County. If she was not awarded the contract, she immediately followed-up to receive feedback on her proposal. She advises other companies that want to be awarded contracts to do the same.

“Always ask ‘why?’ If you lose a bid, you can’t just walk away, because there’s going to be another opportunity and you have to make sure you don’t make the same mistake again.”

Information gained from lost bids enabled Keith to learn how to prepare proposals, what customers are looking for and what was important to them.

Being prepared.

Keith said it is important for your business to look professional to attract the right clients.

“Your website has to look professional and your business card should match your website and your capabilities statement. All of these things are a reflection of the company you want to portray,” she said.

Keith recommends spending the extra money to work with a graphic designer to create a signature brand. A well-rehearsed elevator pitch is also an essential business tool.

“You have to build that image because that’s how you’re going to attract people to do business with you.”

What COVID-19 Is Teaching Us About Employee Engagement
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Roxanne Martinez's Headshot

By Roxanne Martinez, Chief Human Resources Officer for DentaQuest

COVID-19 has touched every U.S. industry, business and employee in multiple ways. Some are dealing with tragic losses. Many are experiencing significant financial consequences. Nearly all are coming up with new strategic plans to face an uncertain future. Through it all, business leaders are looking for new ways to keep employees connected and engaged.

As a purpose-driven leader in oral health, DentaQuest places a high premium on employee engagement. We take pride in how we communicate with our teams and regularly measure engagement and employee well-being. And we are serious about the plans we develop to drive improvements to our processes and systems. Like many organizations, our executive team started the year with a clear set of ideas about work we would do in 2020 to improve our employee experience. Then, in mid-March, everything changed. The pandemic hit, threatening the health and well-being of our communities and creating a completely different experience for the vast majority of our employees.

So, what has COVID-19 taught us about employee engagement?

Communication Is Key

Our movement of all but a few essential employees to remote work settings revealed some outdated communication practices and gaps in our ability to quickly reach employees with important messages. But we were quick to address and remedy these problems. In less than 48 hours, we implemented a new texting service for emergency updates and office opening and closing notifications. We changed the cadence of our internal e-newsletter from weekly to daily, providing shorter, more frequent updates. We introduced bi-weekly virtual CEO Connect meetings to enable two-way communication between our employees and leaders. We also created an internal site to serve as the go-to place for company-wide news, local and national COVID-19 updates, public health regulations and technical support guides. We all got a lot more comfortable with Microsoft Teams. And then we measured. Through a series of six pulse surveys, 91 percent of employees told us that our efforts were helping them stay engaged and informed.

Flexibility Is Critical

While many may yearn for a return to business as usual, we understand that our ‘new normal’ will require ongoing adjustment, adaptation and learning. And we’re using input from our employees to drive and enable those changes. Our review of hundreds of surveys showed that employees needed more support with work-life balance. In response, we accelerated our Employee Assistance Program services, including new stress management offerings, and enabled managers to support their teams with more flexible schedules and work arrangements. When employees said they needed work-related items left behind in our offices, we orchestrated collections days so they could safely retrieve essential tools and supplies and be more comfortable and productive working from home. And we introduced new benefits, including identity theft protection services, discount buying programs, and even began offering pet insurance to better support the whole employee. As we begin planning for a future return to offices, we will again survey each employee on their preferences and will use their input to drive decisions. This will ensure that employees have a strong voice in their future work environments.

Managers Drive Engagement

We already understood the important role managers play in driving and improving employee engagement, but the business challenges created by COVID-19 required us to take an even closer look at how we support our managers so that they can effectively support their teams. Following each management team meeting, we distribute a toolkit that includes a summary of key take-aways and next steps to help managers take an active role in their team’s overall well-being. This is by no means a ground-breaking practice. Bringing more rigor to the process and the timing of distributions, however, is helping managers understand what they can expect and when. And this helps them more effectively manage through some of the new and unpredictable issues they are currently facing as part of a new remote workforce. Longer-term, we’re working to build new leadership capabilities for the remote workforce of the future.

As we continue to live and work through the pandemic, each of us is on a different track and schedule. Companies that are willing to rethink what they know about employee engagement and apply the lessons they learned from COVID-19 will be in a stronger position post pandemic. And their employees will recognize and remember the way they were supported during a global health crisis.

Kristin Malek: Redefining Supplier Diversity at CDW
LinkedIn
A woman leading a business meeting

As the senior manager of Supplier Diversity at CDW, Kristin Malek drives CDW’s strategies to achieve supplier diversity objectives. She is responsible for CDW’s $2+ billion annual Supplier Diversity spend initiatives. Kristin is the architect of the CDW’s diverse supply chain, which today is defined as more than 1100+ suppliers that serve the needs and offers solutions to CDW and their customers.

She is a member of the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council (NMSDC), Board Member of the Chicago Minority Supplier Diversity Council, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA) and TIG (Technology Industry Group), sharing her voice and best practices on inclusive business strategies.

 Under Kristin’s leadership at CDW; the supplier diversity program at CDW has been named a finalist for Corporation of the Year with NMSDC in 2018 and 2019. In 2019, the supplier diversity program was named the Best of the Best Supplier Diversity Programs for veteran-owned businesses.

 Earlier this year, Kristin was named one of Top 25 Women in Power Impacting Diversity. Under Kristin’s leadership, CDW was inducted into the prestigious Billion Dollar Roundtable in October.

Professional WOMAN’s Magazine (PWM) spoke with Malek about her career.

PWM: Describe a moment you felt like a Wonder Woman and made a difference.

Malek: To describe a moment in which I felt like a Wonder Woman is hard to define, as every day I hold myself to high levels of accountability, being available to my family, teams, customers, and friends, and live with integrity. To find a day in which I perhaps elevated myself and pushed myself out of my comfort zone presented itself this spring when the world was sheltered in place. I found myself being tasked to support my third-grader with learning from home and getting her through fractions, having the responsibility to be a special education teacher for my fifth-grader who while in school received 1:1 paraprofessional support and lost that when distance learning presented itself while leading the Supplier Diversity program at CDW. Many days, I felt it was an overreach for me, but staying true to asking for help, staying honest with my capabilities and being able to set boundaries maybe made me Wonder Woman for the day – title or no title, it’s OK to ask for help.

PWM: What values do women bring to the workforce?

Malek: Competitiveness, leadership, empathy, solution thought leadership, and perspective, but I think men bring the same things; the more we separate skills by gender the farther we get away from inclusion.

PWM: What are your tips to keep growing professionally?

Malek: Take opportunity of changes; changes create needs, and needs create opportunities. Embrace Change. Second, compete with yourself only.

PWM: What are some things you think women can do to advocate change in the workplace?

Malek: Advocate from a place of respect, authentic gratitude and confidence in your abilities.

PWM: What lessons have you learned that you would like to share with our readers?

Malek: My lesson that has come to be reoccurring is that courage doesn’t always roar but can be the quiet voice that says I will try again tomorrow.

Rihanna: PWM’s Wonder Woman of the Year
LinkedIn
rihanna posing at the Fashion Awards

By Samar Khoury

It’s difficult to describe Robyn Rihanna Fenty—better known as Rihanna—in one phrase, but two words sum her up perfectly: Wonder Woman.

She has created a $600 million fortune.

She’s the world’s richest female musician.

She was the third highest-paid female singer of 2019.

And she holds various titles: businesswoman, activist, philanthropist, and actress, to name just a few. Plus, she’s been honored with countless accolades throughout her career.

But Rihanna is anything but complacent.

In fact, the musician is more active than ever, advocating for equality, showing enormous support for the Black Lives Matter movement, providing relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, and launching her new skincare line.

Rihanna has left a mark, and it’s only going to get greater.

 

The Face of Activism

Following the tragic death of George Floyd, Rihanna was one of the first celebrities to speak out. The business mogul closed her online Fenty beauty, fashion, and lingerie stores on June 2 in honor of #BlackoutTuesday. “This is not a day off,” Rihanna said through Fenty’s Twitter page, “this is a day to reflect and find ways to make real change, this is a day to #PullUp.”

“We are not staying silent and we are not standing by,” she continued. “The fight against racial inequality, injustice, and straight up racism doesn’t stop with financial donations and words of support.”

Rihanna on stage singing
The Barbadian singer Rihanna during the ANTI World Tour hosted in Milan. (Photo by Francesco CastaldoArchivio Francesco CastaldoMondadori via Getty Images)

Rihanna also pledged, through her charity organization the Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF), that she’d donate funds to Black Lives Matter Greater NY and The Bail Project.

What’s more, the fashion icon’s 2019 viral tie-dye dress made a special comeback to support Black Lives Matter. Fashion label A Sai Ta specifically created the dress for the 32-year-old singer, which made numerous headlines. “No one else has this dress apart from me and Riri,” a post on the label’s Instagram page read. “We will be producing this iconic dress EXCLUSIVELY for 3 charities. Finally, you can also have this dress!!”

Standing by the Black Lives Matter movement is only scratching the surface of Rihanna’s efforts to make change.

Amid the pandemic, Rihanna made it a mission to lend a hand to those in need. In addition to donating $5 million to COVID-19 relief efforts through CLF, she gave away personal protection equipment to New York, which used to hold the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country.

“Protecting our frontline health workers and marginalized communities around the world requires getting ahead of it FAST,” her foundation’s site read. “The time to act is now.”

Rihanna has made such a difference that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) presented her with the President’s Award during its 51st Image Awards on February 22 in Pasadena, California.

“From her business achievements through Fenty, to her tremendous record as an activist and philanthropist, Rihanna epitomizes the type of character, grace, and devotion to justice that we seek to highlight in our President’s Award.”

Rihanna receives he Harvard University Humanitarian of the Year Award on stage
CAMBRIDGE, MA – Rihanna receives the Harvard University Humanitarian of the Year Award from Dr. S. Allen Counter at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

And devoted she has been.

“If there’s anything I’ve learned,” Rihanna said while accepting her award, “it’s that we can only fix this world together. We can’t do it divided…We can’t let the de-sensitivity seep in. The ‘If it’s your problem, then it’s not mine.’ ‘It’s a woman’s problem.’ ‘It’s a black people problem.’ ‘It’s a poor people problem.’”

The Queen of Philanthropy

Rihanna constantly aims to make the world a better place. Growing up, she often came across poor and needy children, inspiring her to give back.

Her commitment to charity work earned her Harvard’s humanitarian of the year in 2017.

In 2012, she founded CLF (named after her grandparents), a nonprofit organization committed to aiding underserved communities through health care and education.

“I feel strongly that all children everywhere should be afforded the opportunity of a quality education,” she says.

Through her annual Diamond Ball gala, Rihanna has been able to raise millions for the foundation. The Clara Lionel Foundation has since funded programs, including Children’s Orthopedic Center and the Mark Taper-Johnny Mercer Artists Program.

But it doesn’t end there.

The philanthropist is also an ambassador of her hometown, Barbados; the Global Partnership for Education; and the Global Citizen Project. She dedicates much of her time traveling and raising money for these roles.

As an ambassador of the Global Partnership for Education, Rihanna advocates for education for girls, gender equality, and those affected by war-ridden countries.

In 2016, she met with Prince Harry to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of Barbadian independence and spread awareness about AIDS.

And her donations to many charities are endless.

“My money is not for me; it’s always the thought that I can help someone else,” Rihanna says.

The Road to Stardom

Although we admire Rihanna’s philanthropy and activism, we can’t forget

Rihanna on stage in Barbados at an HIV event with Prince Harry
BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS – (2nd L-R) Rihanna, Prince Harry and councillor Ministry of Health HIV Program Susette Neblett-Straughn talk on stage at the ‘Man Aware’ event held by the Barbados National HIV/AIDS Commission.(Photo by Chris Jackson – Pool/Getty Images)

how we first fell in love with the Barbadian beauty—her chart-topping hits.

Rhi-Rhi, as fans like to call her, has become the youngest solo artist to score 14 No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, has sold more than 54 million albums and 210 million tracks worldwide, and holds nine Grammy Awards.

Her top hits include “Diamonds,” “Umbrella,” “Work,” and much, much more.

Rihanna’s road to musical stardom is an inspiring one.

While she was growing up in Saint Michael, Barbados, her parents’ marital problems and dad’s battle with drug and alcohol addictions began to take a toll on the star. To cope, Rihanna turned to music, leading her create a musical trio with two of her classmates.

Her big break came in 2003 at age 15 when Rihanna and her bandmates were introduced to record producer Evan Rogers, who was vacationing in Barbados with his wife.

Rogers was immediately in awe. “The minute Rihanna walked into the room, it was like the other two girls didn’t exist,” he said to Entertainment Weekly.

At age 16, Rihanna moved to the US with Rogers and his wife, later being signed by Jay-Z to Def Jam Records.

From there, her career took off instantly, and she debuted her first single, “Pon de Replay.” The catchy hit made the top five in 15 countries and became a major U.S. club hit.

The popular single was included in her debut album, Music of the Sun. A year later, she released her sophomore album, A Girl Like Me—featuring No. 1 singles “SOS” and “Unfaithful.”

The rest is all history.

Rihanna’s eighth and most recent album, Anti, released in 2016, saw major success: She achieved her second consecutive No. 1 album with 166,000 first week sales.

Rihanna kisses Chase Sullivan, a child of Harvard professors, after receiving the Harvard Humanitarian of the Year Award in Cambridge, MA.

Although fans are anxiously awaiting new music, Rihanna assures them it will be worth the wait. Currently, the entrepreneur has been focusing on her new skincare line.

“I am always working on music, and when I am ready to put it out in the way that I feel fit, it’s gonna come out. And you’re not going to be disappointed when it happens,” the singer told Entertainment Tonight.

 

Thriving Businesswoman

In addition to hit albums, world tours, and movie roles—such as Home, Annie, and Ocean’s 8— Rihanna has built a beauty and fashion empire.

Her new skincare line, Fenty Skin, made its debut on July 31. People of all skin tones and types can enjoy products from the singer’s new venture. Sales have already skyrocketed.

But Rihanna has been shining in business for years. Her businesses include makeup line Fenty Beauty; Fenty, a Paris-based fashion house she created in partnership with luxury fashion group LVMH (Rihanna was the first woman and black woman to be added to the LVMH group); intimates collection Savage X Fenty; and now her new skincare line. She has also released 11 fragrances throughout the years.

It should come as no surprise that when Fenty Beauty launched in 2017, it took the world by storm. According to Forbes, the brand reported $100 million in sales in its first six weeks, reaching more than $550 million in its first year.

Rihanna’s goal was to create an inclusive makeup collection catered to people of all skin types—not just white women. So, when Fenty Beauty launched, 40 shades of foundation came along with it. This move paved the way for the beauty industry. Rihanna’s “Fenty Effect” set the precedent for foundation ranges to come.

Like her singing career, Rihanna’s love for makeup started in Barbados. She was intrigued by her mother’s lipstick and when she tried makeup for the first time, she never looked back, making it her choice for self-expression.

“Makeup is there for you to have fun with,” Rihanna says. “It should never feel like pressure. It should never feel like a uniform. Feel free to take chances, and take risks, and dare to do something new or different.”

Shining Bright Like a Diamond
Rihanna has been living in London for the past three years, focusing on her music, leading the fight for change, and continuing to be the musician we know and love.

As Rihanna’s whopping 85 million+ Instagram followers and slew of fans can attest, she’s not going anywhere.

But we can’t help but wonder: What change will she spark next?

Andrea Garcia: Breaking the Gender Barrier to Accounting Success
LinkedIn
Andrea Garcia's headshot

By Mary Marshall

The sun-drenched skies, sculpted rock formations and Saguaro cactus of the high desert are part of the landscape that Andrea Garcia calls home. Garcia, a native of Phoenix, Arizona, is proud of her Hispanic heritage and feels fortunate to be able to crossover the language barrier from English to Spanish and collaborate in two languages as a bilingual accountant.

“So many people within the Hispanic community appreciate someone who can speak Spanish in everyday business interactions,” said Garcia. “Especially when it comes to tax accounting. It truly makes everyone feel comfortable and at home when you can convey the message in their own language.”

Garcia, an entrepreneur and founder of her own accounting firm AG Tax and Accounting as well as an accountant with Nahrwold Associates in Phoenix, received a wealth of opportunity that opened many doors for her as a Hispanic woman in a male-dominated profession like accounting.


“I landed a part-time administrative job with Nahrwold Associates, a small accounting firm, while still in college,” reminisced Garcia, 27. “The owner, Allen Nahrwold, noted my interest in business and finance. He became my mentor in the field of tax accounting. Many employees were part-time college students, such as me, who left the firm and moved on to other jobs. I ultimately stayed and learned the accounting business from the ground up. I have never found that being a woman or Hispanic has been an issue – if anything it has been an asset since I speak Spanish as well as English. That is an area where many young Hispanic women could find themselves in a career, and truly excel rapidly by being able to speak both languages.”

Now into several months of being a business owner, Garcia has discovered the freedom of creating her own business identity while remaining a Nahrwold employee.

“This is the best of both worlds,” said Garcia, “being able to work for myself and Nahrwold. I am building a great network based off referrals and additional business contacts provided by Nahrwold. It is amazing how the clients and referrals come when people discover you are starting a new business.”

When contemplating college following high school graduation, Garcia’s exemplary grades led to a wealth of scholarship opportunities including several that she received from the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance (AFWA), an educational and professional association for women in the field of finance and accounting, headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky. Garcia has since completed a master’s degree in accounting and plans to complete the two phases of the CPA exam by the end of the year.

“The AFWA scholarships were so beneficial to my college success,” said Garcia. “The whole organization has been a wonderful education and networking experience. I joined our local AFWA chapter (East Mesa and Phoenix Chapters) shortly after finishing college. Now I am the president of East Mesa and enjoying every minute of it. It is a great way to network, make friends in your profession, create revenue streams, and get involved in the community. I have also served for several years on the national AFWA Board of Directors, and that has been a wonderful experience.”

Garcia’s advice to young women interested in pursuing a profession as an accountant or in the field finance includes becoming an intern for valuable experience and finding a mentor to guide you down the career path of choice. She also believes that it is important to join a professional organization while still attending college, like the AFWA, that offers a student membership and scholarship opportunities.

“Working as an intern in a position is a wonderful chance to discover if accounting or finance is the career path you want to follow,” said Garcia. “It is even more beneficial to find a mentor to help you learn the ropes and give you advice along the way, help develop skills, and create your business acumen. It is also important to join a professional organization, like the AFWA, to develop soft skills, networking, and leadership skills. Women are underrepresented in the field of finance and accounting. There are so many opportunities available it just takes making yourself aware, willing to step out of your comfort zone and into a role where you can learn, lead, excel and grow in your business and interpersonal skills.”Toggle panel: Yoast SEO

She’s a U.S. Army Veteran and Minority Business Owner Who is Helping Clean up the Environment for You and Your Dog!
LinkedIn
Mary Lester Pet Butler owner in uniform in front of work vehicle

Admit it; no one likes cleaning the bathroom. Most of us would gladly pay someone else to do the dirty work – if you don’t already – because we all know bathrooms can get downright filthy if left untouched.

And, of course, we always want to keep things tidy for ourselves and our guests. Now, take that same premise and apply it to your yard if you have a dog.

You adore your furry friend, but you don’t necessarily want to clean up his business, even though you want to enjoy your beautiful yard. In fact, you would be willing to pay someone else to do your dirty work. If that’s the case, look no further than Pet Butler Tallahassee, which provides pet waste removal and other pet-related services to residential and commercial clients throughout Tallahassee, Crawfordsville, Woodville, Monticello and Lloyd.

“We’re all spending more time at home and I absolutely love helping my customers improve their outdoor living space,” said 53-year-old Mary Lester, a U.S. Army veteran and first-time franchise owner who launched her minority-owned small business in January. “Helping keep green spaces free of pet waste benefits us all.”

After a 32-year-year military career that included a stint in Afghanistan, Lester retired from the Missouri Army National Guard three years ago. The Tallahassee native, who also worked as a Public Affairs Specialist, returned to her hometown to turn her passion for pets into a business. However, Lester has learned that many pet owners in the Tallahassee area are unfamiliar with pet waste removal services. In using social media to advertise Pet Butler Tallahassee, Lester found that while many embraced the service, others needed to be educated on its benefits. “I quickly realized there’s a big misnomer about pet waste’s impact on our environment,” said Lester, who also had to cope with launching her business on the cusp of a shelter-in-place order. “A lawn mower and even Florida’s torrential downpours do not take pet waste away and there’s a greater community benefit to picking it up.”

Indeed, just like the dark corners of your bathroom, if you have a dog you never know what you might encounter with each unwary step through your backyard. So far, Pet Butler Tallahassee has removed more than 1,330 pounds (or more than two-thirds of a ton) of pet waste from residential and commercial properties. However, that’s a small fraction of the roughly 16 tons of dog poop (32,000 pounds) generated PER DAY by the estimated 43,500 dogs in Tallahassee according to TAPP (Think About Personal Pollution), a campaign by the City of Tallahassee’s Stormwater Management to help educate individuals on ways that small, personal changes in home and yard practices can keep local lakes and streams cleaner.

Dog waste has four to 10 times more bacteria than human waste because dogs can eat almost anything, and as a result, have a generous supply of intestinal bacteria. Pet Butler Tallahassee is on a mission to help raise awareness of the importance of proper collection and disposal of pet waste. “If we’re not scooping the poop and discarding of it properly, we are potentially contributing harmful contaminants to our local water,” said Lester. “Pet Butler has a civic mission that resonated with my desire to support my community through pet services and my interest in working with non-profit pet organizations and environmental organizations such as TAPP, with its clean-water initiatives.”

Pet Butler, Lester found a franchise brand with a modernized business model that offers large, protected territories that foster scalable growth and strong recurring revenue, which has helped make Pet Butler No 1 in the “No. 2” business for thousands of clients across North America. Roughly 85 million U.S. families, or 67 percent of households, own a pet, according to the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). In the U.S., pets include 90 million dogs and 94 million cats. In 2018, pet services accounted for $72.56 billion spent and was estimated to grow to $75.38 billion in 2019.

Lester and her team of pooper scoopers service homes weekly, twice weekly and every other week and also offer a one-time accumulated waste pick-up service. Customers can also have their lawns treated with a yard odor eliminator and disinfectant. Pet Butler Tallahassee is offering a special introductory price for new customers – $5.99 per week (or about the cost for two of your barista-made morning coffees) for the first two months. There is an additional $10 discount offer for first responders on the front lines of the Coronavirus pandemic. The service is particularly well-suited for common areas within apartment and condominium complexes.

For those who are longing for someone else to do their dog’s dirty work for them, Lester said Pet Butler Tallahassee has been met with enthusiasm when they learn of it.

“Literally, people stopped at traffic lights have put down their windows and asked me if this is “really a thing,’” said Lester, whose truck serves as a mobile billboard highlighting Pet Butler’s slogan, “We Scoop Poop!” “I’m here to pick up after their dogs and dispose of the waste in a safe and environmentally sound way. And we also clean out litter boxes, as well.”

For information visit https://www.petbutler.com/locations/tallahassee-area-pooper-scooper or call 850-396-0783.

About Pet Butler Pet Butler Franchise was acquired in 2017 by Spring-Green Enterprises, the parent company of +43 years old Spring-Green Lawn Care and SGE Marketing Services. They currently have 30 franchisees located in 26 states with long term plans to open 60 more within the next 5 years. Pet Butler provides an opportunity for pet lovers to turn their passion for pets into a business. To learn more about how Pet Butler serves pets and their people, visit www.petbutler.com and connect on Facebook and LinkedIn. To inquire about a franchise call 844-777-8608 or go to petbutlerfranchise.com.
WBENCPitch Pivot
LinkedIn
WBENC PItch Pivot logo

As the nation’s largest certifier of women-owned businesses and a leading advocate for women business owners, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) has been at the forefront of supporting women entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 crisis.

The non-profit organization recently presented its first virtual pitch competition of 2020 — WBENCPitch Pivot, presented in partnership with Allstate Insurance Company. This program was designed to highlight women entrepreneurs who have pivoted their businesses and stepped outside of the box to create or offer products, services, and solutions that fill supply chain gaps during the COVID-19 crisis

During the application period, WBENC asked their network of 16,000+ certified Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs) to send their best 90-second video pitch demonstrating how they have transformed their business, started a new business line, partnered with a fellow WBE to create a new product or solution, or reinvented their business to stay afloat and fill a critical supply chain need.

The First Round of the competition officially began with a virtual showcase of pitch videos displaying more than 100 WBEs who have transformed their businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. Thousands of people across the WBENC network browsed the showcase and voted for the WBEs with the most innovative and powerful pivots.

The virtual showcase featured pitches representing four pivot categories:

  1. Collaborate & Innovate: Businesses who partnered with another WBE or reinvented their company to fill a critical supply chain need.
  2. Community Impact: Businesses who converted their current operations to support frontline workers or their local communities.
  3. Supporting the New Normal: Businesses who started a new product line or service to protect people, ensure safe spaces, and/or engage employees. 
  4. Survive & Thrive: Businesses who transformed their operations to stay afloat and adapt to a new environment.

The 13 WBEs who received the most votes advanced to the Final Round, where they presented a live three-minute pitch for a WBENC panel of judges. All finalists received various levels of grant funding to support their business, with three WBEs earning a grand prize of $10,000. 

Congratulations to all 13 WBENCPitch Pivot Finalists!

 

 

Together, these 13 finalists are truly representative of the hundreds of impressive WBEs who have successfully pivoted their operations as a result of the many challenges facing today’s business owners. These entrepreneurs are supporting the needs of corporations, other women-owned businesses, and their communities at large with innovative and critical solutions. From supporting health care and frontline workers by producing PPE, to delivering food to those in need, to creating solutions to support virtual work environments and working moms, the WBENCPitch Pivot finalists addressed the challenges of COVID-19 head-on. Their contributions demonstrate how nimble, innovative and successful the women entrepreneurs within the WBENC network truly are.

To discover more about the WBENCPitch program and learn more about the finalists, visit www.wbenc.org/wbencpitch

 

About WBENC

WBENC is the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled, and operated by women in the United States. WBENC partners with 14 Regional Partner Organizations (RPOs) to provide its world-class standard of certification to women-owned businesses throughout the country. WBENC is also the nation’s leading advocate of women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs. Throughout the year, WBENC provides business development opportunities for member corporations, government agencies and more than 16,000 certified women-owned businesses at events and other forums. Learn more about WBENC at www.wbenc.org

 

Using Your Voice as a Powerful Business Tool
LinkedIn
Angelica Nwandu headshot

By Angelica Nwandu

The power of voice is an often-underestimated tool within the business world. Countless entrepreneurs have harnessed the power of their voices to create strong online brands that people trust.

By putting your voice out there, you can establish yourself as a leader in the industry—translating into endless business opportunities. If you’re an up-and-coming entrepreneur, the number one way to grow your brand is by sharing your expertise across all mediums. You’ll see the ROI in no time!

Here’s how you can use your voice as a powerful business tool through content and other means:

Find Your Niche

The first step in using your voice as a business tool is to establish your expertise. You need to establish yourself as an expert within your niche. That is the only way your audience will take your words as an authoritative resource.

Dive into your skillset and find the area that you believe is your strongest field. What can you offer that no one else in your industry can?

Once you’ve found the place where you can set yourself apart from the rest, target in on that. Create useful and educational content surrounding your expertise. Write about things no one else besides you can write about, and find the questions no one has answered yet. By doing this, you will start to gain traction and attract a significant audience.

Have a Strong Social Presence

Social media is important for networking and discovering potential customers. Post consistently to LinkedIn and connect with prospects. Your connections will then see your expertise and hopefully consider you as a thought leader.

Always engage with your followers. Respond to comments and encourage conversation on your social profiles. Make sure every one of your social profiles is complete with a profile picture, bio, and more so that you come off as authentic and professional.

In addition to all this, feel free to join social groups on Facebook and more that you believe could bring a larger audience to your brand. Share your own personal articles and additional educational resources that would be of value to these groups.

Be Authentic

One crucial part of transforming your voice into a business tool is authenticity. In order to utilize your voice as a tool for business, you first need to establish trust. And trust only comes with authenticity.

When posting content or networking with potential clients, be sure to be authentic. If people trust you and your content, they’ll be more likely to do business with you. Post content in your personal tone and voice. Be a useful and reliable educational resource for your target audience.

Also, pass on the self-promotional content. Post and share content that your audience can truly benefit from as opposed to self-promotional advertisements.

Post Consistently

If you want to be taken seriously in your industry, you must post consistently. Posting consistently will establish you and your brand as a trusted voice in your niche. Post educational, compelling, and unique content that will help you reach your audience. Create a posting schedule that keeps you on track to share educational content. Overall, hold yourself accountable to posting regularly.

Also, make sure your tone and quality are both consistent. You want your content to be top-notch every time you share content.

Harness the Power of Video

Video is one of the most essential mediums today. It can convey vital information more effectively while also offering more opportunities for creativity. It will communicate your voice better and stronger.

Instead of writing post after post, consider a quick one or two-minute video. Speak about topical subjects, best practices, and more. This can make you stand out in your industry and garner trust from your audience.

Seek out Speaking Opportunities

One of the best ways to use your voice as a business tool offline is to seek out speaking opportunities. If your city is hosting a conference or convention within your industry, see if there’s any way you can contribute. Volunteer for a panel and showcase your expertise. Attendees will take note of your insight, and you may be able to turn them into customers.

Overall, your voice can be a powerful business tool to attract a broad audience. Choose your words wisely and utilize your expertise to find your target market. Authenticity, trust, and consistency can go a long way, so be sure always to put your best foot forward.

Your voice is the most powerful business tool you have. Start using it today!

Angelica Nwandu is the founder of The Shade Room, a site that covers celebrity news and celebrates black culture. She was named as one of Forbes “30 under 30” in 2016 and has created a media company that inspired Refinery 29 to dub Nwandu “the Oprah of our generation.”

With An Eye For Design, New Biz Owner Brings #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise To Customers’ Homes
LinkedIn
Emilia Navedo standing in front of her work vehicle

Looking to grow as a professional, Emilia Navedo didn’t waste time taking baby steps to her goal.

Instead, she took one giant leap and is relishing the opportunity. With a wonderful background in design and experience in managing a business already in Mexico City, the 39-year-old Navedo recently opened Floor Coverings International Roseville, California. She visits customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. Floor Coverings International Roseville services Roseville, Granite Bay, Rocklin, Loomis, Auburn, Lincoln, Penryn and Newcastle, in California.

Her advice to others wishing to own their own business in a field they love, “Don’t be afraid,” said the Roseville resident. “Trust in yourself. If you dream it, you can do it. ”Navedo’s father was an architect and she credits him for her skills and love of design. She also has a passion for photography. But all of her experiences came full circle when she had the opportunity to study fashion and style in Italy. “Photography allowed me to obtain a certain perspective on details and taste that bled into my work with interior design,” said Navedo. “After I studied in Italy, that ultimately led me to build a children’s furniture franchise and start my career as an interior designer. I’m not really leaving my previous career, but rather expanding because I want to grow as a professional.”

In Floor Coverings International, Navedo – who is being joined by her father in her new venture – found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations. “I chose Floor Coverings International because during my research I learned what a great company it is in so many aspects,” Navedo said. “They are like a big family. They give amazing support, know how to build leaders and provide the best quality products to our customers.”

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer’s door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2020. For franchise information, please visit www.flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, www.floorcoveringsinternational.com.

Successful Pet Butler ‘Entre-manures’ Showcase Franchisor’s Strong Potential for Growth
LinkedIn
Rebecca Stewart stands outside in front of her Pet Butler work vehicle

(ATLANTA, Georgia)-Rebecca Stewart was home one night watching “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch,” a former CNBC show that highlighted American business success stories. This particular episode featured Pet Butler, which provided “poo-fessional” pet-waste cleanup and removal services to residential and commercial customers. “Why didn’t I think of that?” thought Stewart, who came from a family of entrepreneurs and was in need of a change from her job in Corporate America.

            That was more than a decade ago and in 2008, Stewart did, indeed, become Pet Butler’s first franchisee in Georgia. In 2017, Spring-Green Enterprises (SGE) acquired the brand and it has been reinvesting in its marketing, technology and operational support systems, culminating in a modernized model designed to deliver a profitable, recurring-revenue business that caters to pets and their people.

Pet Butler is positioned for nationwide growth, especially in the Atlanta market, where Stewart serves clients in DeKalb and Fulton counties and Vinings in Cobb County. She has been one of Pet Butler’s top-performing franchisees ever since she left behind her 22-year career as a systems programmer analyst in 2006 before opening her Pet Butler franchise two years later. Working hard to build a new business was never an issue, given the history of entrepreneurism in the Stewart family and the skills and values learned growing up in a small town. “We work hard for ourselves and that’s earned us loyalty and respect in our community,” Stewart said. “I left IT because I wanted to be my own boss and create my own hours. In IT I was meticulous and that translated well to pet-waste removal. We are very attentive to the clients we serve and pride ourselves on our customer service.”

Pet Butler offers large, protected territories that foster scalable growth, which has helped make the brand No. 1 in the “No. 2” business for thousands of clients across North America. Roughly 85 million U.S. families, or 67 percent of households, own a pet, according to the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). In the U.S., pets include 90 million dogs and 94 million cats. In 2018, pet services accounted for $72.56 billion spent and was estimated to grow to $75.38 billion in 2019.

Stewart’s team provides pet-waste cleanup services to private residences, parks and multi-family properties of all kinds. Pet Butler also offers cat litter box swaps/cleanouts, onsite empty-clean-refill or sift out-top off cleanouts, as well as installation and service of commercial pet-waste stations. Pet Butler follows preventive safety measures during the novel coronavirus pandemic that include wearing personal protective equipment, sanitizing vehicles between jobs and practicing social distancing. “Pet owners have become very aware of the services we provide and appreciate the convenience that Pet Butler provides,” Stewart said. “We are seen as more of a necessity than a luxury.”

About Pet Butler

Pet Butler Franchise was acquired in 2017 by Spring-Green Enterprises, the parent company of +43 years old Spring-Green Lawn Care and SGE Marketing Services. They currently have 30 franchisees located in 26 states with long term plans to open 60 more within the next 5 years. Pet Butler provides an opportunity for pet lovers to turn their passion for pets into a business. To learn more about how Pet Butler serves pets and their people, visit www.petbutler.com and connect on Facebook and LinkedIn. To inquire about a franchise call 844-777-8608 or go to www.petbutlerfranchise.com

Upcoming Events

  1. 2020 NAWBO National Women’s Business Conference
    September 21, 2020 - September 23, 2020

Upcoming Events

  1. 2020 NAWBO National Women’s Business Conference
    September 21, 2020 - September 23, 2020