Female Entrepreneur Spotlight: Rosemarie Ndupechi

In 2017 the U.S. Department of Labor reported that women make up 47 percent of the nation’s workplace. That’s 74.6 million women. Women own close to 10 million businesses, accounting for $1.4 trillion in receipts. Therefore, America is experiencing a significant and much-needed job growth for females. 

While these statistics are pleasing, they still are not satisfactory. As females continue to work for equal pay, positions, and recognition it is clear the playing field must be leveled by the organizations that hire, develop and promote them. 

Many organizations state that they find it challenging to find the “right woman” to fit their jobs.  This is surprising since there are countless talented, qualified and strong-willed championed females to fit their positions.  Some women are choosing to opt out of traditional employment opportunities with an organization and selecting to work for themselves.  

This post profiles the success of one female business woman.  It highlights how she drives to do incredible work that has led to business success and client satisfaction. 

Rosemarie A K Ndupechi is the proud owner of not one, but two, small businesses. Occasions by Rosemarie, an event planning business is her nine-to-five career while her bed and breakfast is a 24-7 operation she runs with her husband, Paul Ndupechi. 

However, Ndupechi’s rise to success was a complex and unplanned path. Before she began her first business, Occasions by Rosemarie, she was working with Cargill. She explained that after working over 20 years in the corporate field with both Cargill and other companies, she was done sitting at a desk.

“I wanted to do something different,” Ndupechi said. “I’m an individual who always needs be kept busy. I didn’t want to retire, I didn’t want to just do volunteer work. I wanted to something. I just didn’t know what.”

It was after hiring an executive coach she began to realize her love for event planning. She volunteered to help an event planner for an event for the St. Paul Foundation. When the party was a success, the planner told Ndupechi she should consider making event planning a full-time job. At the same time Ndupechi and her husband were remodeling the other half of their house, space they previously used for friends and family who came to visit. She suggested they use it as a bed and breakfast. In August 2014 Ndupechi launched her businesses. 

But as most first-time business owners are, Ndupechi found herself incredibly unsure of her decision and anxious for what the future held. 

“When I quit my corporate job I thought to myself, ‘You have made the biggest mistake of your life. You can’t do this. You don’t have a business plan. This could fail,’” Ndupechi said. “But I knew I couldn’t just give up. Through pep talks from friends and family, I knew I could be successful. I had to be.”

And successful she was. Ndupechi has successfully planned events for large corporations such as General Mills and Cargill and has hosted over 250 guests from 26 states and six countries. Both of her businesses were started in 2014, making them less than five years old. To say Ndupechi is a champion in her line of work is an understatement. 

Ndupechi believes that the success of her businesses not only lies with her motivation to do well but also with her experiences in the business world and education. 

A graduate of University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Communications and a Master’s from St. Thomas, Ndupechi pursued careers in teaching at the prestigious Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School in New York City, New York, a job with the Peace Corps in D.C.,  a recruiting job with Land O’ Lakes, as well as a management position with the League of Women Voters of Minneapolis. 

“My education was so important,” Ndupechi said. “From high school to college I took it seriously. Your degree says you’re competent and tells employers you are a learner. You can and are willing to learn. Without my degree, I don’t think I would have had those positions.”

Women are currently dominating the secondary education system in America, as the Washington Post reports that today women get most of the college degrees awarded in the US, whether it be associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral. With degrees earned, women are getting employed.  However, some women with getting promotions and expanding their scope of responsibility.  

However, Ndupechi argues that networking is arguably one of the best ways to get ahead in your career.  “My advice to young people, especially young women is to never underestimate the power of networking,” Ndupechi said. “Know what you can do for them as well as what they can do for you. I would not have been as successful had I not put myself out there and meet people that can help me.”

As Ndupechi stated networking is one tool in the business world that individuals should be using. It should be used as a means to find out more information about the organization you want to be hired by, find individuals you may be mentored by, as well as a method to showcase your talents and abilities. Women especially should utilize this tool, to help hire and support one another. 

Despite the grand success Ndupechi has experienced, it has not come without a set of challenges. Being a woman of color she’s aware of the inequality that could stand as a barrier.

“I have had people try and sabotage me, people that don’t want to hire me because of who I am,” Ndupechi said. “I’m not naïve and I know the barriers people try to place in front of me.”

Though workplace opportunity has increased significantly for females, these barriers have still threatened their workplace environment. Though the wage gap is closing, is still present. According to a Business Insider report, Asian women make 84 percent of a man’s salary, white woman 75 percent, black woman 65 percent, and Hispanic woman just 55 percent. A Huffington Post article in 2015 stated that 1 in 3 women experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. 

The workplace is getting better, but these statistics prove that there is still work to do. 

However, women are taking a stand and refusing to allow these statistics stand in their way, Ndupechi included. She has allowed herself to look past what some individuals see as a deficit and use them to her advantage.

“I don’t think consciously about being a woman or a woman of color. I’m thinking about making money instead,” Ndupechi said. “I will not undersell myself because of the value people see me as. When you allow yourself to notice you’re allowing them to have power of you. Don’t spend all your time thinking about those challenges, and rather think about the challenges about getting the next sale. The next customer. The next client.”

To be a woman in the workplace is empowering, extraordinary, and inspirational to find women are on the same path. As Ndupechi reflected on her own experiences, she hopes that younger woman follows their own passions and help build each other up to do so. And when you aren’t feeling confident, think like a man.

“Learn how to think like a man,” Ndupechi said. “Notice how even when men don’t know what they’re doing they go with it. An exhibit that confidence, know you’re capable of what you think you can’t do. Be vulnerable with the people you trust, but walk confidently with your head held high. And approach life successfully.”  That’s true wisdom, one we hope will inspire you no matter how you identify your gender.  

Introducing Change Networks

We are proud to partner with Bush Foundation to offer three cohort-style programs in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota that will equip people to lead change in a more equitable and inclusive manner. Participants will not only learn new skills, but also gain new allies who will support them in their work both during the program and beyond.

There are a lot of people across the region working to make their communities better for everyone. They know that sometimes to make things better you’ve got to change the way you get things done.

Change Networks are unique learning experiences for people who want to build the skills and connections that will help them become more effective leaders. They are designed for people who have the desire and potential to make positive changes where they live or work.

As our region becomes more diverse, people who want to make their community better for everyone need to be able to work with folks from all walks of life. That is why our initial Change Network offerings are focused on providing a unique opportunity to learn how to work effectively with people from diverse backgrounds.

There are three Change Network programs, one each in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. All programs will run from Fall 2017 to Summer 2018. The application period for each cohort took place in June and July, 2017.

Learn more below!

https://www.bushfoundation.org/fellowships/change-networks

Using Social Media to Grow Your Business

It’s been proven time and time again that both small businesses and large corporations that are active on social media are helping their enterprises. In 2014, Hubspot reported that 92% of marketers indicated that their social media efforts have generated more exposure to their businesses and more than half of marketers that utilize social media reported it helped them improve sales.

Statistics continue to reflect that social media presence helps gain new partnerships, improve search engine rankings, increase traffic on websites, build loyal fan bases, and influence marketplace intelligence.

However, it’s justified why business owners may shy away from signing up for Facebook or Twitter in 2017.   

Privacy and safety concerns, a productivity perpetrator, a gateway to possible social isolation – it’s understandable that not all aspects of social media are approved by its users and individuals who may not use it at all.

However, used in the appropriate setting and utilized in the correct way social media should be embraced my business owners, not shied away from. Social media is the apparatus that paves the way to fruitful marketing strategies and successful methods to remain relevant in a society that consistently develops technologically, economically, politically, and socially.

So how do we as business owners utilize social media to our advantage without hurting our business platform?

Easily.

There are precautions and methods to utilize to allow both you and your enterprise to be on social media.

1.     Use the correct forms of social media. According to a 2017 study done by DreamGrow, a popular digital marketing company, the top 15 most popular networking sites listed Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, Vine, Tumblr, and Pinterest among other well-known applications.

Never fear, there should be no pressure on which application you need and not need to be on.  

This is when you, as a business owner, or vessel of an enterprise must research and decide which sites are relevant to your business.

Of all the websites and applications that are offered to businesses, Facebook is a tool all businesses should be using. Reported in May by Forbes, the social media site dominates with over 1.38 billion users. Setting up a page is free, sharing your business venture with your friends and family is free and is easy marketing, and allows you to link your personal account to your business account for your customers to learn more about you personally and professionally.

Arguably, Twitter, LinkedIn, and GooglePlus are great options for your business. As far as other social media sites go, such as Snapchat and Instagram, those are personal choices for your business.

If you feel your business can be properly represented through the popular applications that allow you to share photos and videos to your followers, you should absolutely be using the application to promote your enterprise. Be aware that the two applications are used by mainly the millennial generation. Omnicore reported in 2017 that users between the ages of 18 and 29 are 28% while just 4% of users lie between the ages of 30 and 49.

For a graphic design company, or an up and coming entrepreneur, for a music business, the applications are great for recognition. Recording five second videos on Snapchat to show audience members what’s in the works, or posting a picture of the new designs you’re working on on Instagram is great marketing. Even if you aren’t in these businesses you can still use the applications to your advantage.

You can take your audience behind the scenes of your company, what’s in the works for a board meeting, tell customers about events you may hold by giving them VIP access to the behind the scenes, upload promo codes, feature the people you work with in a photo, etc.

2.     Be professional.

Be warned: not everything presented to you on your timeline, or every though you have should be posted on your wall. Always present yourself in a professional setting. On both of your accounts be aware of what you share, what you post, and what you like. It’s okay to be liberal with what you share on your personal account.

Posting photos of family outings, sharing news from acclaimed sources, and liking posts you agree or disagree with is fair – but only on your personal account. Slandering against other individuals, yes, even politicians, should never be done. Slandering counts as spewing hate against appearance, religious backgrounds, gender and sexual orientation, political beliefs, etc. Talk and share on your personal account as if you would in front of your grandmother. Disagree or agree with your friends in a respectful tone. Be professional.

On your company’s account represent your company. Share articles your audience would be interested in, share photos and videos of what your company is involved in or what you’re working on. Tag your clients and contractors to help them gain a greater audience as well as promoting your own business to show off your clientele.  

Remember that your professional page is for your business. Stray away from sharing political beliefs, religious beliefs, and or social beliefs to your page unless of course your business is based off those platforms.

If you find yourself struggling to keep your professional and personal accounts separate or if you worry about who can and can’t see your pages, there’s no issue with keeping them both private. Though it’s advised you to keep your professional page public for more audience attention.

3.     Know when enough is enough. Put the phone down, shut the laptop, and engage with your audience not via social media. Control who controls the social media platforms.

As stated before, one of the concerns of having a social media is the fear of being sucked into the webular platform and not finding yourself able to log off. This is when self-control and business control come into play.

It’s an old trick in the book, especially with the influx of social media in the early 2000s, to limit your screen time with a simple timer. Set twenty minutes on either your smart phone or your computer, and browse the web for possible content to post on your website.

You may feel that this tactic lessens you as an adult, but it’s no different when you designate ‘x’ number of hours for your other work.

If you worry that you would still abuse this method, or you’re unsure of how to navigate social media the other option is to hire a social media intern. In the rise of social media and its obvious usage by millennials and nexters, it can be difficult for the older generation to navigate its platforms and stay up to date with its changes.

The decision to hire a social media paid or unpaid intern will help build your business’ marketing platform as well as cater to the community in search of a student who is excited to make their mark in the business world.

But then again, social media should never be required by businesses. If you feel that your business profits are on the incline without a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a LinkedIn profile, retain your integrity and build your enterprise without the web.

However, your opportunities are endless with the power of social media. A reminder to use it to your best advantage, only using platforms you can keep up with and know will benefit your business. Use it professionally, both your business accounts and personal accounts. And know when to stop posting and who should be posting.

 

Happy browsing!

 

Welcome to the Common Sense Consulting@Work Blog!

With over 30 years of experience as a human resources professional and almost ten years as a small business owner, Janice Downing has worked to cultivate a successful consulting firm to serve in the business world.  

As the owner of Common Sense Consulting@Work, which specializes in helping clients, driving performance and engagement and navigating conflict; Downing works as a consultant. Serving notable clients such as the City of Minneapolis, St. Paul Eye Clinic, Land O’Lakes, and most recently with the State of Minnesota; Downing has worked hard to keep her team at the head of the game. 

Surprisingly, Downing’s career path did not start with a dream to work in either Human Resources or Consulting. Thankfully, circumstances and associates encouraged her towards the course. 
“Going into school I thought about the business law program,” Downing said. “Luckily I learned pretty quickly the field was not for me.” 
Downing described that the business law program followed a system that did not meet her needs as a student. 

“I realized that my thinking and operating styles are very different from the individuals I saw pursuing the business law program,” Downing admitted. “The way [the students] practiced law, the way [professors] taught law, even the way [students] lived was not going to work for me. I wasn’t sure where to go from there but I knew I wanted to stay in business.” 
A visit to her business adviser, Dr. Germaine Simpson, at The Ohio State University, put her path into perspective. Simpson asked Downing if she had ever thought about pursuing an education and a career in Human Resources. 

From there, Downing began taking Human Resources courses, studying the practice, and talking to individuals who mentored her throughout the process. Downing refers to these individuals as “champions, bosses, and advocates.” “They were the ones that pushed me, they were the catalyst that led me to a future in Human Resources and Consulting,” Downing said. “But they were also the ones that pushed me to start my own firm.” 

Downing had worked for the Minneapolis law firm, Fredrikson’s Human Resources practice, under the leadership of Ms. Mary Weber, one of Downing’s mentors. She eventually became the practice leader. After 8 years, she was informed that the enterprise would be discontinued. 
“When my clients heard I was going to be laid off they were concerned that it meant I could no longer work for them,” Downing said. “They all asked that I continued to work with them while I figured out my next move. But again, I was concerned about where to go next.” 

But her mentors, friends, family, and clients, were not. She received encouragement from her clients, St. Paul Heart Clinic, Tri-City Enterprises, and Multicare Associates to open her own consulting firm. The administration at Fredrikson was incredibly supportive helping Downing launch her own consulting practice. Downing describes her husband, Gerald Downing, as being the most encouraging catalyst throughout the process. 

“Gerald was very instrumental,” Downing said, “he told me to go ahead with the practice. He assured me that I’d figure it out as I went through the process and he made it seem like it was no big deal. Looking back on it the move was, it is clear it was my clients, friends, family, husband, and my faith that made the transition successful.” 

As she built her practice and worked as a private consultant, Downing began to notice that she loved being both a private consultant as well a business owner as much as she did working as a Human Resources practitioner. 

“I’ve said before I always worried about what my ‘next’ was. Before I became a business owner I worked in corporate America. I became very concerned that each time I ended employment with one employer, I would have to find that ‘next’ employer,” Downing said. “With consulting I don’t need a ‘next’ employer, I just need a new client or project. I can work with a client for a while and then go to another client and then go back to the original client after a certain amount of time.” 

Downing also explained that the competencies needed in consulting go beyond the skills, abilities, and experiences needed as an HR practitioner. “In consulting I use a lot of my Human Resources skills, but I can also use my emotional intelligence, business experience, and degree, as well as my ability to navigate conflict. It’s the combination of skills that allows me to meet our clients’ needs and get a job done well,” Downing said. “In Human Resources I was never given the opportunity to use all of them together.” 

In addition to her competencies, she also relies on a team of subcontractors. Downing describes her business network as a “seasoned” group of highly skilled professionals that are able to get the job done. “I work with a broad network of a group of super talented individuals. Some of them work in government, others work in nonprofits, education and for-profits organizations,” Downing said. “It’s important to have this broad network because someone can ask me to do work with them and I can connect them up with the best individuals to complete the work.” 

Downing still has her critics. “There are times, that a client may initially be ‘concerned that my broad network means they may not get the best work or enough of my time’, Downing said. “Sometimes they say, ‘we wish you were more focused on our sector, e.g. education or government.’ But how we complete the work always eases their concerns. They then like the fact that I can always supply them with a team of experts that can do the work except when I know I can’t. They appreciate my honesty about how and when we can complete a project.” 

Downing will celebrate the ten-year anniversary of Common Sense Consulting in July of next year. She has completed many goals thus far and continues to look towards the future both for the company and her personal life. “I want to continue to grow the business. Work with more organizations. And eventually, may 10-15 years from now I want to do less client work and more community work,” Downing said. “It’ll be nice to say that I’m leading programs that help youth and individuals in the community. Work can continue to be done for businesses, but the goal is that I won’t need to be the center of it all.” 

And as for her personal life? 

“I want to have balance. I want to travel with my husband, spend time with my children, visit family on the East Coast, and check countries off my bucket list,” Downing said. “Oh, and have no stress! But that’s a fantasy!”  

And what about the current goals for the company? 

“I just need to continue to do the work that we’re doing now. We’re growing, we’re evolving, and we’re putting forth our best work. I want to assure our audience and our clients that Common Sense Consulting is here to help in every way.” 

Throughout the summer Common Sense Consulting will be uploading weekly posts and updates on the Common Sense Consulting blog. All content will focus on relevant news, stories, and investigations that pertain to information that 21st-century business owners, economists, financiers, policy makers, and future entrepreneurs should take into account and apply to their everyday business lives. 


To stay up to date with the posts visit www.cscworks.com. For questions of inquiry email
triannadowning@gmail.com.