From the very beginning, my experience with the WBEC-East has been all about connections – and looking back, it’s fun to connect the dots. Let’s start with Rebecca Harris, a fellow Chatham University alum, who convinced me to become a certified WBE. She suggested that I reach out to Joanne Peterson and Marian Neilson, also fellow Chatham alums, who had experience in helping women business owners get started in the process. I was so excited by the conversation in Rebecca’s office that I drove over to Joanne and Marian’s office (which was fortunately only two miles away) to learn more. Both Joanne and Marian have indeed been a huge help in not only walking me through the WBE process, but also understanding how to use the certification as tool for my business.
And the story doesn’t end there. Actually, my WBE story fell a bit flat for a while, because after a year of being certified, I wasn’t yet seeing tangible benefits to my business. I decided to register for a WBENC event – even though I was concerned I wouldn’t know anybody or make any useful connections. I was very wrong.
Let’s first flash back two years before that event when I was at a business networking meeting in Pittsburgh. I met a woman named Linda Richardson in the bathroom, and we struck up a conversation – of all reasons – because she liked the red suede boots I was wearing! At the time, Linda was an executive at an industrial WBE, and thanks to that initial conversation about my red suede boots, I helped her with some executive coaching.
So, let’s flash forward again to the WBENC event where I didn’t think I would know anyone. As I was walking in the door, Linda waved me over to her table. Even though I wasn’t wearing my red suede boots, we had plenty to catch up about – and sitting with Linda was Joanne Peterson and Marian Neilson (another key link in my journey), as well as several other women that today I have come to know as my “Tribe.”
The women of my WBE “Tribe” are the reason I decided to stay certified – and they are a regular source of inspiration, support, and NEW connections for me. We call each other when we have a business question or issue – or are looking for suggestions for a contact in a particular industry or company or just need support.
In addition to Linda (who is now the Executive Director at the Muscular Dystrophy Association of WPA) and Joanne Peterson (owner of Abator, an IT consulting company), our group includes Carol Philp (owner of CPI Creative), Marian Neilson (Joanne’s daughter and CFO for Abator), Amy Criss (who works in supply chain for Amazon), and Gina Byerlein (owner of On-Site Travel Directors – a travel staff company).
We’re not only fortunate to have each other, but also the opportunities we’ve found in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has been attracting quite a few start-up companies and serves as a key location for companies like Google, Amazon, and SAP. Beyond our “Tribe,” there are many women working together in Pittsburgh to help educate companies about the power of supplier diversity and the WBENC network. There’s much more to do, but we’ve made excellent progress together.
THE KEY LESSONS–
Wear red suede boots! Just kidding…although I owe those red suede boots and my chance meeting with Linda to the great support and experiences I’ve shared with my WBE “Tribe.” These connections have reinforced my belief that everyone you meet can offer you something important that you don’t know – but need to know. My experiences with my “Tribe” have also shined a spotlight on the amazing things that can happen when you connect powerful women together. Having fellow WBEs linked to my success – as I am to theirs – has been an incredibly rewarding journey, and I look forward to continuing that journey with my “Tribe.”
About Coach Monique and Associates
Coach Monique helps her clients unlock bold changes for themselves and their organizations using cutting edge tools, techniques, and education based in Brain-Science, Emotional Intelligence, and the Psychology of Happiness ensuring they experience rapid results. Her passion is working with women executives and business owners to help them step into their own power to be confident successful leaders. Coach Monique & Associates is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; however, they provide executive coaching and training services throughout the country.