Tell me about your professional journey and what led you to founding IMSS.
In 1996, I met my first boss at a bar...literally! I worked there part-time as a bartender and he and his wife were regular customers. He owned a Third-Party Marketing Firm supporting investment managers and was looking for administrative support. After chatting with his wife, she exclaimed that "he just had to hire her [me]". She thought I was a very hard worker and loved my positive attitude; it was a great fit. That is where my love for this profession began.
After working as an administrative assistant, I became the resident IT specialist, custom database manager/coder, procurement specialist etc. I reviewed RFPs for grammatical corrections which led to a better understanding of what investment managers did, and it drew me in. After a year, my boss asked me "what is it you see yourself doing?" My response was that I wanted to learn how to write RFP's and DDQ's, report to consultant databases and update Pitchbooks so that I could better understand not just our clients, but the industry. He appreciated my enthusiasm to want to grow and shortly after I became a Product Manager.
After my boss retired and the firm closed in May of 2007, I joined two of my co-workers in their endeavor to launch another Third Party Marketing Firm as a Partner. For me, it was an opportunity to continue to grow and a chance to do more in-depth work with clients. Fast forward to 2017, and after a lot of success, the two partners decided they would be retiring as well. I was encouraged to start my own firm solely focused on consultant databases and RFP's.
I knew I wanted to run my own firm and understood the challenges and critical needs for an outsourced provider. As a natural next step, I launched IMSS in June 2017.
To remain competitive and grow the firm, I began the development of Data-Centrix in 2020. Data-Centrix is our proprietary automation tool for consultant database reporting.
What personal sacrifices have you made throughout your career?
As an entrepreneur, I worked [and continue to work] very long days (including weekends) trying to build my business while caring for a young child as a single parent. I made it a priority to find a balance between work and family, which isn't easy. I invested a lot of my personal capital to continue to build the software to remain 100% independent and woman-owned, which was important to me. I was and continue to be a firm believer in my business.
What lessons have you learned throughout your career that have been helpful to you now as a woman CEO?
The biggest lesson I learned was to never let the discouraging words of any individual impact how you feel about yourself; to never allow it to waiver your confidence in what you are working to achieve. I was not a book learner but a hands-on-learner and driven to do well at everything I put my mind to. When an individual once commented that they were disappointed that I had never finished college, I mistakenly allowed it to resonate with me for some time. I felt that I would never have the opportunities I should because of that. I learned over time that a college degree didn't define me, but my work ethic, loyalty and strong desire to continue to learn and grow is where my success came from.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced as a woman in finance and how have you overcome them?
The financial industry in general is predominantly male-dominated. As a small woman-owned firm, I felt there was a need to prove myself; to prove that I could and would provide top-tier service with the years of experience I had in the industry and depth of knowledge of the consultant database and reporting universe. I have a passion for the work I do and believe that passion shines through.
Can you name a few women that inspire you?
Oprah Winfrey. When I heard her story and saw how she built her empire, I was inspired. What I also appreciate about her, and what hits closest to my heart, is all the good she has done and support she provides to so many important causes. She has taken her wealth and done incredible things that have impacted people all around the world. As a volunteer of many causes that touch my own personal life, I admire that so much and her. My hope is to one day start my own non-profit to support families of children with special needs and mental health challenges.