May 2015 Member Spotlight

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Meet NAPW members in Member Spotlight, a monthly column that lets members highlight their careers and businesses. This month, we feature 20 accomplished women, so be sure to check out each of their profiles. For easy networking within your field or area of interest, we are featuring new industry categorization. VIP, Elite and Preferred Members: To be featured in an upcoming issue of the newsletter, contact us at featuredwomen@napw.com.

Business / Finance / Law  |  Creative Arts  |  Education  |  Event Management / Promotions  |  Healthcare / Technology  |  HVAC / Energy  |
Individual / Family Services  |  Insurance  |  Oil / Gas  |  Project Management  |
Travel / Tourism

Business / Finance / Law


Roxana-Ahmadian

Roxana Ahmadian

Company:
Law Offices of
Roxana Ahmadian
Industry:
Legal Services:
Attorney/Partner/Judge
Title:
Owner
Location: Encino, CA


NAPW
: What techniques do you use to handle difficult employees?

Ahmadian: Since I am a solo practitioner, I don’t currently have any employees. Even the vineyard I work for as a hobby is still in its beginning stages; I have no need to hire any employees yet.

However, I have worked with colleagues and subordinates in the past, and I’ve always believed constructive criticism is necessary, though a collaborative approach usually yields the best results. This means having a friendly demeanor, expressing improvements we can both make and emphasizing how working on our individual difficulties would improve both our own work products as well as the company’s efficiency. It’s important to acknowledge any explanations they give for their mistakes and insist they can overcome them and that you are ready to help in any way you can.

I believe most employees would be receptive to criticism and willing to work on improvement so long as the approach is constructive and not accusatory and that you are willing to give suggestions on how they can improve.

If the issue is that their character is difficult, I still believe the same approach applies. I would ask them if there is something that can be done at the office to make it more welcoming to them or make coming to work less burdensome. I would invite them to voice any concerns they have and if they are easily fixable, I see no reason not to do it.

 

NAPW: What do you feel is your most important business skill?

Ahmadian: My most important business skill is being emotionally available to my clients and making them feel comfortable and confident about their choice in seeking me to help them. As an adoption attorney, I’m aiding people during an emotional time and they need someone they can trust to help them through that. If they walk into my office and don’t immediately feel like they can trust me or that I’m someone they’d feel comfortable working with for over a year’s time, I’d be losing clients left and right.

 

NAPW: It’s been said that it’s not what you know, but who you know. Do you believe this is true? Does is relate to you?

Ahmadian: Unfortunately, yes. I believe this is very true, at least in most cases. Without the right connection or network, it’s very hard to find the right people, e.g. clients, co-counsel, judges, experts, etc., you need to get your business off the ground. I say “unfortunately” because it can be quite challenging for some people. I am naturally introverted, so going out to make connections and build my network can sometimes be exhausting. Nevertheless, it’s a challenge I happily face every day for the opportunity to attain the professional accomplishments I have secured as a result. Additionally, it’s always nice to make new friends and find things you have in common outside of work. You may end up finding your next yoga buddy, tennis partner or new member of your book club.

 

NAPW: What do you think every entrepreneur should know about business?

Ahmadian: Every entrepreneur should know that no matter your ambition, your business won’t be successful overnight. When building a company, it takes time for your reputation to build, for your experience to start speaking for itself and for your network to start making positive noise about you. On that same point, don’t become disappointed or disheartened as a result. With time and dedication, your business will begin to grow; you’ll begin to make a name for yourself and have everybody talking!

 

NAPW: How important is having a sense of humor to your daily business life?

Ahmadian: So important! A sense of humor sees you through the day. If you can’t laugh at yourself or with others, every mistake or issue that comes up will seem an unconquerable obstacle. Laughter keeps your mood light and energetic. When faced with an obstacle, you’ll be filled with a “challenge accepted” attitude instead of a defeated one. Most importantly, a sense of humor makes you approachable to others, which will keep relationships positive among colleagues and affable with clients.

 

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Patty Arvielo

Patty Arvielo

Company:
New American Funding
Industry:
Finance
Title:
President/Owner
Location: Tustin, CA


NAPW
What is the best career advice you have ever received?

Arvielo: The best career advice I have ever received is to never burn bridges and always mend the fence. In business, connections and relationships can have a major impact on your career, so you should always be thoughtful of the future.

 

NAPW: What advice can you offer a growing business?

Arvielo: At New American Funding, we have experienced massive growth since opening our doors in 2003; between 2009 and 2012, the company has grown by over 600%. The best advice I can offer to a growing business is to diversify. Diversification allows a business to have a strategy in place that can account for seasonal voids or market fluctuations. However, if you decide diversification is the best option for your business, it is important to maintain your company’s culture and preserve cohesion between the teams or divisions.

 

NAPW: How do you keep your ideas fresh?

Arvielo: We keep our ideas current by observing industry trends, staying up-to-date with the latest technology changes and understanding our customers’ needs.

 

NAPW: What do you like to do in your free time?

Arvielo: In my free time, I enjoy spending time with family and traveling. I am also very passionate about serving on the Executive Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County.

 

NAPW: How do you get more clients / customers for your business?

Arvielo: Marketing plays an extremely important role in attaining new customers. It is vital to have a marketing strategy that best suits your business objectives.

 

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Jordan-Harris

Jordan Harris

Company:
CENTAURI Technologies LP
Industry:
Chemical Toll Manufacturing
Title:
Business Analyst
Location:
Houston, TX


NAPW
: Do you feel that society’s viewpoints of women have hindered or helped you?

Harris: I work in the male-dominant oil and gas industry, where the idea that women are neither smart enough nor, in some cases, physically capable of doing labor inspires me to prove society wrong. I am the only woman at my company who works in the plant and laboratory; all of the negativity only gives me more motivation to succeed.

 

NAPW: Have you ever felt that your integrity would be compromised while making a business decision? How did you handle the situation?

Harris: When making business decisions that include other people and their livelihoods, it is very difficult to separate business issues from personal issues. The first time my integrity was challenged was when I was put on a review team to see if an individual was contributing to the company and being a positive agent of change. This person and I never saw eye to eye on a personal level; to be honest, we almost hated each other. When I had to make a business decision on whether or not to keep that employee, I had a choice to make — get rid of someone I did not like or give an evaluation based on performance. The employee stayed based on performance, and I still interact with the person on a daily basis. But my integrity is still intact and that is something no one can take from me.

 

NAPW: Name three characteristics you believe all successful people share?

Harris: Flexibility, decisiveness and compassion.

 

NAPW: Dale Carnegie said, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed no hope at all.” Do you believe this? Why?

Harris: Yes. If you are lucky enough to find something out of nothing, you have truly found something important.

 

NAPW: Steve Jobs said, “I want to put a ding in the world?” What ding will you make?

Harris: I pray that my ding will come from the love and compassion I show to those around me. I want my ding to show that science, love and God can co-exist.

 

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Creative Arts

star-child

Star Child

Company:
Stilt Circus, Inc.
Industry:
Circus Entertainment /
Performing Arts
Title: President / Creative Director
Location: Santa Monica, CA

 

NAPW: What would you tell young women about the obstacles they will face in your industry?

Child: Although it is a fun business with many rewards, it is very hard work and you may find yourself working long hours, causing you to neglect certain aspects of your social life. It can get competitive at times, but as long as you stay true to yourself, follow your goals and have something uniquely special to offer to the world, you will be able to accomplish great things.

 

NAPW: What is the biggest career obstacle you have ever faced? How did you overcome it?

Child: The biggest career obstacle I have ever faced was figuring out what I wholeheartedly wanted to do with my life. I did not want to get stuck in a career that wasn’t aligned with my true being. I worked in the music industry right out of college for nine years. I thought it would be the perfect career for me as one of my biggest passions in life was music. I had a ton of great experiences and met many of my childhood idols. I was a hard worker and always seemed to have multiple jobs or be involved in various projects. At the same time, I worked for ASCAP, volunteered at the American Indian Community House in New York City and managed a successful Warner/Chappell-signed band in New York. I worked with some amazing people and acquired great friends and contacts.

Over the years, I felt something deep inside me yearning for more in my life and future. After seven-and-a-half years in the industry, I became ill and I felt trapped in the corporate world. That is when I realized the business was not a good fit for me. I knew I had to do something about it or I would get stuck in a situation I would regret down the line. The cycle of life where I grew up included: go to college, get a good job, get married, buy a house, start a family, retire and move down south. That seemed all right, but I felt deep in my soul that there was much more to life than that and I was determined to find it. On a flight home from a much-deserved, yet delayed vacation in 1996, I made the decision to move from New York. I picked up a map on the seat in front of me and randomly chose three places—California, Colorado and Arizona. California ended up being the final choice because it was close to the ocean, which was important for me since I grew up on an island surrounded by water. Not knowing anyone in California—and with no family on the West Coast—I realized I was moving into unfamiliar territory. I wanted a new start, so I began looking for jobs outside the music industry. After two visits to California and multiple job interviews, I was unsuccessful in my new job search and wound up accepting a job offer at the Los Angeles office of the company I worked for in New York. This may have kept me in the industry, but I was still determined to find my soul’s calling. After a year-and-a-half of telling everyone I met I was looking for a new career, I was introduced to a fire troupe based in Seattle that desperately needed a manager. When we concluded a meeting in Santa Monica on a Thursday, they flew me out that Saturday to Arizona for a job they had booked at a huge festival. Upon arrival at the site, I began making the proper arrangements for the troupe’s performance, which was a huge hit. Afterwards, the main guy in the troupe looked at me and said I was their missing link. I smiled and said they were my missing link.

The following Monday, I gave my notice to the company I had worked at for five-and-a-half years. A week later, I moved to Seattle to begin managing them. Three months in, they called on me to perform with them. I was reluctant at first, but after some hours of convincing, I did my first performance in Washington State in 1999. As soon as I got out there, it was like a light turned on inside me and I knew it was what I had been searching for my entire life. Over the years, the members of the group began going their separate ways. I traveled for a few years as a solo performer and finally settled back in Los Angeles where performance work began to pile in. I taught myself how to make and design costumes to accommodate various thematic requests I received from clients. I started training new people on stilts to help cover some of the job offers I was getting. A few years later in 2006, I started my company, Stilt Circus. Two of the original members of the troupe I had managed also moved to Los Angeles, where they continue to work with me to this day. Stilt Circus creates unique, professional, elaborate and beautifully costumed theatrical presentations for the commercial and entertainment industry, fairs, festivals, video productions and corporate/private events. Stilt Circus now has a network of approximately 64 performers whom we work with on various projects. Stilters, little people, fire dancers, jugglers, unicyclists, ball walkers, breakdancers, contortionists and acrobats are some of the specialties we offer.

 

NAPW: It’s been said that perseverance and hard work bring success. Do you believe this? Why?

Child: Oh, yes! I believe hard work and discipline are essential to be successful in the business world.  You have to put in the time and dedicate yourself to your work.

 

NAPW: How have you overcome budget constraints while promoting your business?

Child: It can be more difficult in the beginning due to the growing stages and learning curve of integrated business operations. Over the years, I have learned that trust is key in what you are doing. If you conduct business with integrity and hard work, what you put out will come back in spades.

 

NAPW: What is the best business advice you ever gave to another woman?

Child: Follow your heart, stay true to yourself and conduct your business with good moral standards and integrity!

 

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Katie Garibaldi

Katie Garibaldi

Company:
Living Dream Music
Industry:
Music / Entertainment
Title: Owner / Music Artist
Location: South San Francisco, CA

 

NAPW: How do you reduce stress while working under pressure?

Garibaldi: One of the quickest and simplest ways I reduce stress is by taking a minute to count my blessings. When I close my eyes and just take a few seconds to feel grateful, I feel completely renewed and empowered. A busy life and hectic schedule can lead to unnecessary complaining and stress, but when I think and speak words of gratitude, all my stressful fears and worries seem irrelevant and melt away. Other ways I reduce stress include playing my guitar at home and spending time with my husband, family and friends.

 

NAPW: Which online career tools or apps do you use most?

Garibaldi: I use the Square Register app on my iPhone and iPad to take credit card payments for CDs and merchandise at my live shows, which has been very easy and helpful. I have recently been using a to-do list app called Teed. I like it because you can set up tasks within different lists to tackle various projects and it sends you reminders on your phone when tasks are due. I’m a big supporter of FanBridge, a program I use to manage my mailing list to send out monthly newsletters, and Section 101 to run my website. I also use LinkedIn and other social media sites regularly to stay connected with those in my network.

 

NAPW: What are your biggest strengths/talents in your position?

Garibaldi: I think one of my biggest strengths as an independent music artist is staying true to who I am. The advice “be yourself” is given so frequently, but the pressures of the industry sway you toward becoming someone else in order to “make it.” I’ve seen many artists change who they are to get their 15 minutes of fame. I’ve had my fair share of opportunities to follow the leader, but I’ve always stayed true to my passion, my image and the way I want to conduct my career. So, I’ve always gone my own way. Throughout the years, I think I’ve also strengthened my persistence. No matter what criticism, rejection or roadblocks I face, I find the drive inside of me to keep going and believe in myself.

 

NAPW: What are some of your weaknesses? How do you plan to improve them?

Garibaldi: I tend to worry a lot about things I can’t control. When outside situations affect me negatively, it’s a challenge to keep my faith strong, which causes anxiety and prevents me from giving my all. I know there are certain things I can’t control and that my happiness is dependent on me, not outside circumstances. I’m working on focusing on things I can control, not worrying so much and not giving into negativity. With the journey I’ve taken to release my new album, Follow Your Heart, I’ve learned that even when a door closes, another door will open with an even better opportunity if you keep the faith and work with a positive attitude

 

NAPW: How do you maintain the networking relationships you’ve established?

Garibaldi: Facebook groups, Twitter and LinkedIn are great tools to stay in touch with people I meet while touring and in various organizations. It’s great to be able to see what people are doing and keep your relationships current by scrolling through the networks. When I’m planning on visiting cities on my tours or at a networking function, I like to message people in my networks to see if they’d like to join me at events or get together while I’m in town. I also attend a lot of music conferences like the ASCAP Expo and the NAMM Show, where I can usually connect with familiar faces in the industry. I try to go to a lot of networking events because nothing beats shaking someone’s hand or building lasting relationships in person!

 

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Vickey-Garner

Vickey Garner

Company:
Xlivris Publishing Company
Industry:
Publishing / Editing / Typesetting
Title: Author
Location: Williamsburg, VA

 

NAPW: Describe a time when setting aside personal time from work was the healthiest choice for you.

Garner: After almost 30 years, I have retired from my career as a public school elementary teacher. I now have the time I need to indulge in writing which I find enjoyable. I did not start out to become a published author. I had a dream about a man I made up that I wrote down and just kept going. I have never found a man I can trust to love me, so I made up a story about one who could be trusted to completely and faithfully love. After a while, I had written so much that I took a huge leap of faith and agreed to self-publish my story, A Real Love at Last, in the fall of 2014 with the company Xlibris. I am hoping it will be available in bookstores at some point, but as of right now, it can be ordered under my pen name on my website, my publisher’s website and Amazon.

 

NAPW: Do you believe in mixing business with pleasure?

Garner: Yes, I do. I was lucky enough to enjoy teaching as a career when I first began, but decided it was no longer what I wanted to spend all my time doing. I always told my class that they need to find what they most enjoy doing and somehow turn that into a career. I didn’t want them to spend their lives being unhappy doing something they hated until they retired. I think that is a wasted life. Part of me feels I had wasted enough of my life doing nothing but my job day after day. My job became something I no longer enjoyed due to the unreasonable demands and expectations of society.

 

NAPW: Do you believe our society glorifies “the busy woman?” Do you ever feel pressured by this stereotype?

Garner: Yes, I am afraid society expects women to do it all. I am no wonder woman. As an elementary school teacher, I was expected to be everything to my class, provide them with what they needed to be successful and, yet, still have a life outside of my job. It got to the point where I was spending 12 hours a day at school, coming home to more work, dreaming about it all night long—if I was able to sleep—spending money on supplies for children who had none and buying items to make teaching aids. I would spend one day a week on my own errands and all day on Sundays preparing for the week ahead with lesson plans, grading papers, filling out reports, doing interims or report cards, keeping track of intervention plans, etc.

I was truly overwhelmed and could see the same thing happening to my friends at work. Most of them had husbands and children to take care of once they got home and were torn between their desire to be a good teacher and a good wife and mother. Since I am divorced and never had children, I had no life other than my responsibilities as a teacher. Even the summers were not truly a break since I often had to take recertification classes to keep my teaching license. I spent weekends and holidays just trying to catch up. I wanted to be the best teacher I could be and I made myself sick trying to do it all. I am sure it is common knowledge that public school teachers are not paid very well. It was too much for me when I felt unsuccessful, so I chose to retire.

Now, I am happily writing for fun with no idea of where it will take me. It is an adventure full of ups and downs. I have felt happiness and doubt equally along this new journey, and I personally hope it ends up being the right decision for me. I am learning that publishing is a business first and foremost. It is not easy to negotiate all the pitfalls along the way. I have made mistakes, but I am still learning and trying my best. I get carried away imagining all kinds of wonderful things, but I just don’t know how my book will be received as of yet. I am no Jane Austen, but I did pour my heart into it and maybe some readers will relate if they give it a chance. I had planned on publishing a sequel, but now I think I will wait and see what happens first.

 

NAPW: Describe the ways you stay healthy at work.

Garner: Now that I am no longer in the classroom, I am quite free to do what I want when I want to and it is wonderful. It has taken me a while to reach this point. I write when I feel like it and have the time. I take breaks and go out for walks to clear my head and think things over. My friends are very helpful and keep me from making too many mistakes, although not as many as I would have liked. I tend to be stubborn and don’t always listen when I should. I can be naïve and way too gullible and trusting. So, I take each day as it comes and try not to be too hard on myself. I am my own worst enemy at times. I try to fix my mistakes when possible or, at least, learn what not to do in the future.

 

NAPW: In spite of your work schedule, which recreational activities do you always take part in?

Garner: I belong to a group called PEO, which stands for Philanthropic Educational Organization. We raise money to help women further their education here in the US and around the world. A group of us get together for Canasta twice a month and we go out to lunch as well. I enjoy spending time with my friends, going to the movies and visiting wineries and historical places around the state whenever I can. I am very interested in the Civil War and have gone on many historical tours of the local battlefields. Since I live in Williamsburg, there are a lot of Revolutionary War lectures and events I can attend in the restored area of my city. I am also involved with my alma mater, the College of William and Mary, and visit the campus for lectures and sporting events regularly. I am an avid reader and enjoy music to inspire me or keep me calm. I also try to travel as much as I can and was lucky enough to have visited Austria and Switzerland last year. Books, music, movies, history, friends, travel and family are all important to me. I dream of finding someone who will love me, but I think I have missed my chance. As Jane Austen’s character Marianne Dashwood said in Sense and Sensibility when talking about finding a man to share a life with, “The more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!”

 

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Sue-Porter-Henderson

Sue Porter Henderson

Company:
Henderson Enterprises Inc.
Industry:
Entertainment / Consulting
Title:
President / CEO
Location: Jupiter, FL

 

NAPW: What is the best career advice you have ever received?

Henderson: The best advice I have ever received is to be persistent in all that I undertake and to not give up under any circumstances.

 

NAPW: What advice can you offer a growing business?

Henderson: Keep abreast of industry changes and be internet savvy and flexible. Above all, utilize social media and network, network, network!

 

NAPW: How do you keep your ideas fresh?

Henderson: I brainstorm with those in my network, stay aware of what my competitors are doing and always keep my eyes and ears open.

 

NAPW: What do you like to do in your free time?

Henderson: I like to travel, try new things, watch baseball and spend time with my spouse, family and friends.

 

NAPW: How do you get more clients / customers for your business?

Henderson: I do as many television interviews as possible, advertise and network via social media and word-of-mouth.

 

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Alice-Timmins

Alice Timmins

Company:
Sewn Mosaics and Handknits
Industry:
Arts
Title:
Founder & Artist
Location: South Berwick, ME

 

NAPW: Do you think men are threatened by strong women?

Timmins: The men I associate with gravitate toward women of strength. I believe these men understand that their lives have more meaning when they have inspiring women in their circles.

 

NAPW: What does being a strong woman mean to you?

Timmins: Being a strong woman encompasses the many facets of being an enriched human being and a woman. It means being intellectually curious and emotionally open to others and artistic expressions. It involves personal fitness, mental sharpness and continually pressing oneself to achieve goals. Strong women are not a threat; their life choices are an inspiration to others. Strong women are never content with a life unlived. They live fully.

 

NAPW: How big of a factor has your personality played in your success?

Timmins: My personality has been formed by various stages of my life. Early in my adulthood, I suffered from anxiety that prevented me from fully embracing options available to me professionally. As I moved out of this personal struggle, my eyes opened to my real potential and I began showing intellectual confidence and engaging fully in my life and in the lives of others. I have become a confident and engaging pubic speaker as a teacher, counselor and coordinator of volunteers in the art world. I choose to work and volunteer with people, art leagues and associations that will benefit my own growth. Today, I live as an accomplished artist with a breadth of inspiring accomplishments. My personality is calm and confident. I am living a successful life.

 

NAPW: Do you consider yourself a people-person? How has this impacted your business?

Timmins: Yes. I make ready connections at art galleries and art openings as a volunteer for local art leagues and as a professional artist. At the rich opening of Denver Art Museum’s Hamilton Wing in 2006, I served as a staff liaison and found myself engaging with and supervising 450 adult volunteers. In addition to training, I did a lot of public speaking and worked with talented, inspiring people. This experience catapulted me into my own encore career as a professional artist. My online connections are numerous and growing each week; many of my art sales have been through this online medium.

 

NAPW: Where do you envision your company in five years?

Timmins: I envision an even more inspiring website that promotes Sewn Mosaics’ textile collages. I am building a world-class conservation and storage area for my art in my home studio that will develop into an art showplace and retail setting for my on-site clients. I envision an ever-increasing professional art portfolio with a thriving custom-order portion of my business. Within the next five years, a wider network of national and international art lovers will recognize the uniqueness of my Sewn Mosaics art style.

 

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Education

Carol Probstfeld

Carol Probstfeld

Company:
State College of Florida
Industry:
Higher Education
Title:
President
Location: Bradenton, FL

 

NAPW: If you weren’t getting paid to do what you do, would you still do it?

Probstfeld: Would I still be able to afford to go scuba diving? I have such a passion for education; I’d love to be able to say ‘yes’ to this question, even if it meant being involved in a different fashion. I feel very strongly about the work the State College of Florida Foundation and other local foundations do to break down the barriers to education for students who couldn’t normally afford it. This benefits our community and is highly rewarding. We’re taking young people who didn’t think they could go to college and giving them the opportunity to succeed in life. That pays off exponentially in our community.

 

NAPW: When is it okay to “break the rules?”

Probstfeld: Rules are very important. They provide the structure that makes my college, our state and our nation operate safely and effectively. The rules, however, must keep up with technological and societal changes. We cannot accept the status quo when the rules no longer make sense or become barriers to progress. That is when it is everyone’s duty to work responsibly to change or adapt the rules to our current paradigm.

 

NAPW: What type of work ethic do you feel exists in business today?

Probstfeld: In successful businesses and administrations, there is a strong work ethic among individuals who demonstrate great initiative, leadership and willingness to take on any task to move the organization forward. We have to demonstrate commitment and care to our employees to get the best out of them instead of driving them too hard in the name of results. Toxic leadership is a problem that exists in many organizations today, and it inhibits them from reaching lasting success.

 

NAPW: What kinds of people do you work with best?

Probstfeld: I truly enjoy engaging with results-oriented people who are passionate about what they do. It doesn’t matter to me if you’re one of my Vice Presidents or a member of my groundskeeping crew. The people I want around me are those who show up every day ready to do their best. A sense of humor is also essential. Things happen every day, and if you don’t just laugh a little and keep going, it will drive you crazy.

 

NAPW: Name three college courses that best prepared you for your current job?

Probstfeld: Speech, economics and behavioral psychology. I always knew that economics was going to be a driver in my career, but had no idea how much of a role speech and behavioral psychology would play as College President. Public speaking is a key component of my everyday existence as President; I am the face and voice of my college. I have to possess and demonstrate a keen understanding of the human condition and be comfortable interacting with many diverse personalities. Never overlook classes like speech and psychology; they can become critical later in life.

 

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Debra Yakabosky

Debra Yakabosky

Company:
Music FunTime
Industry:
Early Childhood Music
Title: Founder, CEO
Location: Berlin, NJ

 

NAPW: What is the most important quality you look for in an employee?

Yakabosky: I look for commitment, a dynamic personality and a strong interest in the arts. I also look for the ability to work with children in a preschool music program that is not like a usual playgroup.

 

NAPW: When was the last time you tried something new in your business?

Yakabosky: I have developed all the materials we use to teach music theory to young children. Since materials are not typically under safe guidelines in the music industry, I am always working to develop those that are. I have patented, copyrighted and trademarked all materials and marks.

 

NAPW: What leadership style do you use to manage your employees?

Yakabosky: I prefer to use the Disney approach of making their jobs “the happiest place on earth.” I strongly believe that if our employees LOVE their job, they will LOVE coming to work. This radiates love to our customers and students. I was taught that people expect customer service; we want customer astonishment.

 

NAPW: In what ways has technology changed your business / industry?

Yakabosky: There has not been a preschool music program thus far that is not just a playgroup at this early age.  Music FunTime is based on Johns Hopkins University’s research on the magical connection of the brain and how learning music unites both hemispheres of the brain at the same time. If a child can learn their colors, letters, numbers, shapes, animals, sounds and multiple languages, why can’t they learn to read music?

 

NAPW: What upcoming business opportunities or ventures are you looking forward to?

Yakabosky: We are rapidly expanding throughout North America. I want to teach society that a child’s mind—like a sponge—can learn real music and to also share the benefits this has on the brain.

 

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Event Management / Promotions

Salena Askew

Salena Askew

Company:
Askew Signature Kreations, LLC
Industry:
Event Management / Promotions
Title: Owner
Location: Alexandria, VA

 

NAPW: When the going gets tough, where do you go?

Askew: I get a massage or spend time with friends.

 

NAPW: What do you do to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

Askew: I try to eat healthy most days, run and ride my bicycle.

 

NAPW: Do you think it’s important to avoid letting success define who you are?

Askew: Yes. Success is a blessing, but if one doesn’t know oneself intimately, success can easily become a detriment.

 

NAPW: When starting out, how important is networking to the success of your business?

Askew: Networking was and is still a very important part of my business. I provide a service that relies on relationships, and I have to continue making connections if I want to thrive in the event planning business. Networking is how I came to learn of NAPW!

 

NAPW: What tips can you share to maintain motivated employees?

Askew: Treat everyone with respect and dignity. Encourage others to work toward their own goals, but not at the expense of their sanity. It’s important to stay focused, but also to take a break sometimes. Share your knowledge and promote the importance of continuing education and training. We should all be willing to learn something new. Lastly, listen to what your employees have to say.

 

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Healthcare / Technology

Brittany-Hayes

Brittany Hayes

Company:
HealthPartners
Industry:
Healthcare IT
Title:
Senior Epic Specialist
Location: Minneapolis, MN

 

NAPW: When using social networking, how do you stay true to your brand?

Hayes: When I am networking, I want people to know I am straightforward and honest. I truly value being able to give back and help others, so I approach networking the same way. Another important habit for me is saying ‘thank you.’ It is so simple, but it can go a long way. Being straightforward, honest, kind and courteous is my brand.

 

NAPW: Has your career choice positively influenced other areas of your life?

Hayes: Yes. It helps me to live out what I am passionate about. My career has also helped me develop skills that are beneficial in my volunteer role and in the privacy of my own home, where communication is key.

 

NAPW: What advice would you give someone who is changing career paths?

Hayes: If you are passionate about the career you are changing to, then go for it, no matter how scary it may seem. Stay true to yourself and trust your gut instinct; if the change feels right, it probably is. It may be tough, but your passion will help fuel you.

 

NAPW: How do you handle your workload during a personal crisis?

Hayes: Work can be a nice escape to give personal emotions a break from the crisis. I am not saying to run away or suppress your feelings, but work can help bring some relief so you can go back and face the crisis with a refreshed mind. I also take time to meditate, which can simply be five minutes focusing on my breath. This allows my emotions to slow down and help me refocus on the work at hand, even if my personal world is in complete chaos.

 

NAPW: Tell us about a time when a heavy workload has affected your personal relationships and / or physical and mental health.

Hayes: I am passionate about everything I do, so leaving work at work is not a reality for me. When I come home, I am still working in my mind, and that impacts personal relationships because they hear about it. I have to intentionally refrain from talking solely about work to my significant other, as he is not nearly as invested as I am. I am careful to set boundaries for myself and to truly take time off and rest. If I don’t, work stress turns into constant stress and burns me out. I have too often gotten to that point and am learning how to stay passionate about what I do without letting it consume me. It is a balance that always needs to be checked and adjusted with life.

 

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Laquanis-Hooker

Laquanis Hooker

Company: Laquanis Hooker, DDS
Industry:
Healthcare
Title: General Dentist
Location: Akins, SC

 

NAPW: What is the best business advice you ever received from another woman?

Hooker
: Consistency is key. To be successful, you must be diligent, dedicated and disciplined.

 

NAPW: Do you believe that exercise and a proper diet helped in your success?

Hooker
: Most definitely. As a military veteran, this was our entire lifestyle. The more consistent I became with diet and exercise, the better I felt and the more I noticed the importance of being and staying healthy. It’s addictive, but in a good way.

 

NAPW: What stereotypes about women do you encounter that annoy you the most? How do you overcome the stereotypes others place on you?

Hooker: I’m most annoyed by the stereotypes that women are more aggressive because they have something to prove and that they are too emotional. People soon see that I’m neither of those things once they get to know me. I am professional when I discuss my point of view and know how to keep a cool head in stressful situations.

 

NAPW: If you could take a day off from work, what would you do first? Why?

Hooker: I would go to the spa. It’s such a relaxing atmosphere. As a dentist, the massages are heaven for my back.

 

NAPW: What woman in history has most influenced your beliefs?

Hooker
: I can’t name just one. Rosa Parks, First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Joyce Meyer have all inspired me to be the woman I am today.

 

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HVAC / Energy

Jacqueline_Loftis1

Jacqueline Loftis

Company:
Westside Mechanical Group
Industry:
HVAC/Energy
Title:
Sales Engineer
Location: Naperville, IL

 

NAPW: What do you want members to know about you?

Loftis: My job is fast-paced, competitive and demanding. The mechanical engineering industry is extremely aggressive. In order to be successful, I need to keep in constant contact with my customers.

Every day, I try to balance motherhood with my professional career. It is a challenge, and some days are better than others. Raising a 17-year-old, along with a six-year-old, and having a husband who works long hours and travels creates a lot of “organized chaos” in my life. Trying to juggle it all is a circus act I will continue to perform; however, it makes me who I am. I am proud to be a working mother who provides for her children. In the 21st century, women are doing more outside of the home, and I feel a sense of fulfillment for all the hats I wear. I am proud to be my children’s role model.

 

NAPW: What can you do for your NAPW community?

Loftis: I would like to be as involved as possible with my NAPW community. Someone once said, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” I am involved in many organizations and charitable events. I would like to be a leader and assist at my NAPW Local Chapter. Speaking engagements and seminars, especially on sales tactics and marketing strategies, are my forte. I would like to be involved in volunteer opportunities as well.

 

NAPW: How do you use social media to promote your career or business?

Loftis: Lately, I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to update my Facebook or send any tweets! However, I see the value in always staying current and in the customer’s ear. At the moment, our focus is on growing our company on social media. Our photos on Facebook receive a lot of attention. We are also growing our presence on YouTube as we upload videos from some of our jobs. This year, our goal is to reach our customers in a three-part series, visually, aurally and a combination of both. We recently put up a billboard on 290 East, going into the city of Chicago. Additionally, we have a radio commercial broadcast on WGN Radio AM 720. We recently launched our first-ever commercial, which aired in February.

 

NAPW: Describe your typical day.

Loftis: My days are broken up by working out of our headquarters office located in Naperville and our downtown office on 311 S. Wacker. I spend the majority of my time working out in the field with building engineers, constructing quotes and meeting with customers. I will usually present a “lunch and learn” at least once a week to new and potential customers. I believe face-to-face interaction and building relationships is paramount in this industry. As a Sales Engineer, I cannot just sit behind a desk. I have to visually see and assess how to save companies money through energy rebates, equipment and design / construction.

 

NAPW: Did you ever face a glass ceiling with this career choice, and what did you do about it?

Loftis: Every day, I face the glass ceiling effect in one form or another! In an extremely male-dominant industry, it is easy to take a back seat and follow the procedures in place. It is even easier to just follow the footsteps in front of me. I pride myself on taking creative initiatives and stepping outside my comfort level. I am not afraid to think outside the box. I am always pushing new ideas and concepts to the owner of our company. Sometimes he goes for it and sometimes he doesn’t. When one of my ideas turns out to be a success, it feels great and we all win.

I love how my position in sales gives me the ability to build professional relationships that have strengthened and grown throughout my 15 years in the mechanical engineering industry.

 

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Individual / Family Services

Kim-Rehak

Kim Rehak

Company:
Education Designers and
International Institute for
Behavioral Development
Industry:
Education, Psychology,
Training, Health Services
Title:
President
Location: Pennsburg, PA

 

NAPW: What is the best career advice you ever received?

Rehak: Balance the ‘squeaky wheel’ with water in words; easy to pour, impossible to recover. It has been said that the squeaky wheel gets the grease…or maybe it was the oil. While this may be true in some cases, one must always remain aware of the source of influence or control over one’s own behavior as well as how that behavior may impact others.

Behavior that is propelled by motivation versus compelled by force may endure and sustain itself with a higher level of enthusiasm over time. Words and actions can never be recovered. What is said is said; what is done is done. Be mindful of how you time the delivery of your inquiries and when you choose to have critical conversations. Relationships and actions based on fear get different results from those based on love and truth. Strive to be authentic. Stay rooted in truth and in love. Authenticity always wins! Keep your head high.

 

NAPW: What advice can you offer a growing business?

Rehak: It takes goodwill and the will to do good. Keep going. Don’t give up. Our mantra / slogan is, “Believe, behave and be happy because together, we can all continue to live and love more intelligently!”

 

NAPW: How do you keep your ideas fresh?

Rehak: 
I am constantly ‘brain training’ and researching. I attend workshops, read ideas from others in my field, participate on research task forces and professional development task forces and consult with others regularly. It takes a village and a committed team.

 

NAPW: What do you like to do in your free time?

Rehak: I love spending my free time with my children. I enjoy connecting with them, watching them in all their activities and practicing what I preach in my interactions with them. I have taken my children all over the world. Traveling with them, teaching them about our world and equipping them with experiences that prepare them to be the best they can be is my most important job!

 

NAPW: How do you get more clients / customers for your business?

Rehak: In the past, it was always through word-of-mouth and referrals. I used to say I didn’t find my business, my business found me! Quality matters and we have quite a reputation for not accepting less. We have recently started a weekly show called, Tell Me What To Do Tuesday! Each episode offers a video blog and feedback column. Individuals write in seeking solutions to their situations and I offer a brief, written blog relevant to the topic. I then broadcast live every Tuesday at 12pm on our Ustream and YouTube channels. Offering this FREE service, which is not intended to replace our professional and more formalized educational, psychological and behavioral health services, enables us to expand our word-of-mouth reach and offer simple and direct solutions to folks who may not be aware of our service delivery model. By visiting our website, individuals can view each recorded show, opt to follow us on Twitter, Ustream or YouTube, and receive automatic updates when new content appears.

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Insurance

Kristine-Mayo

Kristine Mayo

Company:
The Prudential Insurance
Co of America
Industry: Insurance
Title: Account Executive
Location: Lilvurn, GA

 

NAPW: How does your company differ from its competitors?

Mayo: Prudential has a long history of helping clients and communities develop innovative solutions to complex financial challenges. We believe that as a company, we have a responsibility to continue addressing those challenges as well as those presented by society. We provide our current and potential clients with exceptional customer service and an integrated, easy-to-use platform. We offer a suite of financial wellness programs to ensure all clients have the education and tools they need to obtain financial security. Prudential employees make a difference; they are our greatest resource and the heart of our success.

 

NAPW: How does your company encourage professional development?

Mayo: Prudential provides tuition reimbursement to further your education and encourages all employees to seek additional educational opportunities. They encourage mentoring within the organizations and provide several training classes and opportunities throughout the year by offering online classes, webinars and seminars.

 

NAPW: What changes are occurring in your profession?

Mayo: The insurance profession changes on a daily basis, and it is our objective to be proactive, stay ahead of the changes and to be compliant. Prudential’s organizational changes have become more competitive to provide the most advanced technology and innovative solutions.

 

NAPW: If your job progresses as you like, what would be the next step in your career?

Mayo: I would like to be Director / Vice President.

 

NAPW: If your work were suddenly eliminated, what kind of work do you feel prepared to do?

Mayo: I would be prepared to work in several industries such as insurance, sales, human resources, marketing and business management. I have been fortunate to gain the expertise, knowledge and overall experience to exceed in several chosen professions.

 

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Oil / Gas

Amy-Stoodt

Amy Stoodt

Company:
Lean-to consulting, LLC
Industry:
Oil & Gas
Title: Owner / Principal
Location: Bush, LA

 

NAPW: Do you feel you have achieved success by your own rules or have you compromised in any way?

Stoodt: I don’t think you can succeed in business without compromise, collaboration and teamwork. For over 25 years, I have been fortunate to have had both good mentors and challenging colleagues who have shaped who I am and what I stand for professionally. In good times and difficult times, I have stuck to my moral and ethical compass, even if it meant standing alone on an issue or not being selected for a particular assignment.

 

NAPW: What was the catalyst that inspired you to start you own business?

Stoodt: I have gained experience through great opportunities with several highly regarded companies in the oil and gas sector. I have spent a good deal of my career in roles where I have gained expertise and have shared that knowledge as an internal consultant. I have always navigated my career with the goal of providing value, and I reached a point where I could provide the most value across the industry versus for one sole organization.

 

NAPW: It’s been said that when one door closes, another opens. How true is this for your business life?

Stoodt: I am a believer in that philosophy in life and in business. After 20 years, I left an organization from which I thought I would retire. It was a gravely difficult decision, but the company had changed to a point where I no longer felt it was a good fit for me. Since my decision, I have been blessed with a couple of once-in-a-career opportunities, including working on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS). Those unique experiences provided additional skills to draw on and have also allowed me to meet people with whom I will have built lifelong friendships.

 

NAPW: How do you network?

Stoodt: For many years, I have had the opportunity to be involved in professional organizations through which I have done most of my networking. However, with more than 25 years of industry contacts, I often network through those friends and colleagues as well. I tend to use technology and face-to-face opportunities at events, seminars, etc.

 

NAPW: When things get tough, how do you keep yourself going?

Stoodt: I have always been a very motivated and disciplined person, from participating in athletics in college to completing my undergraduate degree in three years, to showing resiliency on the job—all of which allowed me to complete my work with quality. Part of that drive is certainly due to the way I was raised: to give 110% and to never put off until tomorrow what can be done today. Perhaps the more significant part of that is the deep desire to make a difference. So, even when things get tough—and they do from time to time—it is about focusing on the difference I am making and the value I am adding.  And that keeps me pushing through.

 

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Ruth Summers

Ruth Summers

Company:
Baker Hughes
Industry:
Oil and Gas Services
Title: Director, NACT Logistics
Location: Kingwood, TX


NAPW
: If you weren’t getting paid to do what you do, would you still do it?

Summers: Yes I would, but it would have to be in the form of a mentor or unpaid consultant.

 

NAPW: When is it okay to “break the rules?”

Summers: It is okay to break the rules when you are building new processes. We should not rely on the “this-is-how-we-have-always-done-it syndrome” that many companies find themselves doing. Of course, it’s never okay to break rules that are within regulation.

 

NAPW: What type of work ethic do you feel exists in business today?

Summers: This depends on the age group. Recent graduates seem to be achieving the work-life balance whereas older professionals do what is needed to get the job done no matter the amount of hours. While I get frustrated with the nine-to-five work ethic, I do sometimes feel envious of those who have it. I am pleased to say that we have a great team in my current work environment that understands logistics is not a nine-to-five job.

 

NAPW: What kinds of people do you work with best?

Summers: I work best with leaders, regardless of their titles. It also helps if there is a little humor added in.

 

NAPW: Name three college courses that best prepared you for your current job?

Laxton: Finance, maritime law and statistics.

 

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Project Management

Francine-Sivak

Francine Sivak

Company:
NYAB
Industry:
Project Management
Title:
Technical Program Manager
Location: Yonkers, NY

 

NAPW: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Sivak: I wanted to be an electrical engineer.

 

NAPW: How do you define success?

Sivak: For me, success is having a job I enjoy and a good work-life balance.

 

NAPW: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Sivak: I really enjoy what I do, so I plan to still be a Technical Project Manager. I love technical challenges and directing projects to successful completion.

 

NAPW: How do you relax?

Sivak: I spend time outdoors doing things like running, biking, camping, etc.

 

NAPW: What advice would you give to women planning to enter your field?

Sivak: Stand tall and speak with confidence. This is the best thing to do in a predominantly male profession.

 

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Travel / Tourism

Carrie-Lowber

Carrie Lowber

Company:
Wounded Soldiers, Veterans,
and their Families (WSWVF)
Travel Agency, LLC
Industry:
Travel / Tourism
Title:
Owner
Location: Bel Air, MD

 

NAPW: When the going gets tough, where do you go?

Lowber: My favorite place to let loose is the gym. I like staying in shape, plus the exercise really helps get rid of stress.

 

NAPW: What do you do to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

Lowber: I eat low-carb meals and exercise daily. I have lost 95 lbs. since October 2013. Keeping a healthy lifestyle is very important to me.

 

NAPW: Do you think it’s important to avoid letting success define who you are?

Lowber: Our success is due to who we are as a people. I allow my success to complement the person I am because it has given me the strength to be the person I want to be.

 

NAPW: When starting out, how important is networking to the success of your business?

Lowber: Networking is very important to help get your business off the ground. I had the idea for a travel agency for wounded warriors, veterans and their families for several years, but didn’t think I was ready for all the work it takes to put into a startup. At a Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) alumni conference in November 2014, I had the chance to really network with women veterans and military spouses. I told them about my idea to help wounded warriors, veterans and families have the best time of their lives with a vacation guaranteed to accommodate the disabilities holding our wounded back from being who they want to be. These vacations will allow families to reconnect with loved ones that have been through so much, helping everyone feel like a family again. I have a great passion to help as I am a service-connected disabled veteran. I know the struggles our warriors face, and I want to give back by allowing them to have life again.

 

NAPW: What tips can you share to maintain motivated employees?

Lowber: Choose employees that share your vision and passion for the business. Give them a chance to be independent and listen to their input when it comes to being part of the business. Respect your employees and treat them like people, not robots.

 

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