Top Women Business Leaders Offer Advice for Young Women
Women-owned business are stronger than ever, according to national data and this year’s Top Women-Led Businesses Survey from The Commonwealth Institute (TCI). In fact, the number of women-owned businesses is growing five times faster than the general business growth rate, and Florida is the fastest growing state for women-owned enterprises. On May 18, I had the honor of moderating a conversation with four top women business leaders, as TCI unveiled the report and the rankings.
For the past three years, Kaufman Rossin has been a proud sponsor of this survey, compiling and analyzing the data, and moderating the panel at The Commonwealth Institute’s Annual Top Women-Led Businesses Awards. This year’s event, the 12th annual luncheon, brought 420 guests to Jungle Island to meet the leaders of the Top 50 Women-Led Businesses in Florida, and the Top 10 Women-Led Not-for-Profit Businesses.
Panelists Carmen Perez-Carlton, Tina Brown, Hilarie Bass and Kirsten Dolan shared their stories of how they became top business leaders, the obstacles they’ve confronted, and their advice to ambitious young women. Here are a few highlights from our conversation.
Perez-Carlton, who recently capped off her tenure as president of FiberNet Direct by arranging for the sale of the FPL business unit, recommended taking risks. “I suggest that young professionals take risks by taking on special projects or other opportunities that present themselves,” she says. “They’ll develop different skill sets, and broaden their overall knowledgebase and perspectives.”
Kirsten Dolan, President and COO of One Parking, helps owners increase their property values by optimizing their parking. She advises young women to stop agonizing over the next step and learn from where they are right now. “You are where you are supposed to be to get you where you are going,” she counsels.
Hilarie Bass, Co-President of Greenberg Traurig and chair-elect of the American Bar Association, has always put mentoring high on her priorities. Asked to give advice to ambitious young women, she told a story about tenacity. Her first leadership position was as chair of Greenberg Traurig’s Miami litigation department, but to be named to that role took persistence – she had to apply three times before she was selected!
“It would have been easy to take the rejection personally and just give up,” Bass said. “But instead, I kept focusing on my goal. With the success I had in volunteer leadership positions at the United Way and local bar associations, others in the community viewed me as a leader and now that made me a more attractive internal candidate.”
Tina Brown, Executive Director of the Overtown Youth Center, brings a true business perspective to her work inspiring and empowering young people and their families. For ambitious young women seeking to make a difference through service to our community, she notes: “Many people don’t think of a non-profit as a business. Bringing an experienced business perspective to the Overtown Youth Center has been one of the drivers of my success personally, as well as the success of our organization.”
The survey report provides insight about why South Florida’s women have started businesses, how they lead, and more. One of my favorite pieces of advice: “Be relentless in your journey, a little bit reckless, and lift up others around you. The more women we lift up, the more of a collective impact we will have.”
Janet Altman is a Marketing Principal at Kaufman Rossin, one of the Top 100 CPA and advisory firms in the U.S.