Post by Amy Blais, contributing Women On Business writer
Ernst & Young LLP recently announced the winners of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® awards in Metro New York. President & Founder of the WPEO, Marsha Firestone was a member of this year’s judging panel, who had the difficult task of selecting 11 winners from the 34 outstanding finalists. Three of the winners this year are women, and two of them are Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) that are WBENC certified by the WPEO.
The two WPEO WBEs are Liz Neumark of Great Performances, and Lisa Giaquinto of Universal Environmental Consulting, Inc. Both women have taken their companies to the next level by transitioning from their original starting points in order to thrive in tough economic times. Their forward thinking helped them plan for the future, and evolve into strong businesses without straying completely away from their original goals.
Lisa Giaquinto began Universal Environmental Consulting, Inc. as a side business in 1987 and has grown it immensely since then. With a desire to compete in the public and private sectors Lisa decided to add services and to continue to maintain high environmental standards. Additionally, by investing in specialized technology, she has been able to keep her clients, the government agencies, and vendors informed. Lisa was always looking for new opportunities to take advantage of when the time was right. She recently completed an acquisition deal that has expanded her client and vendor base, doubling her bottom line.
Liz Neumark began as a photographer in New York City. As additional employment, she picked up several waitressing/catering jobs. She soon realized that all of the companies she was working for were male run, and thought she could do a better job. Identifying an opportunity in the catering industry, Liz launched Great Performances in 1979. In the past 30 years, the company has grown from a waitress service to diverse foodservice company. As of 2006, Liz owns and operates organic Katchkie Farm, integrating environmental concerns and social responsibility into Great Performances’ business model. She is now the owner of an eco-friendly kitchen, and is dedicated to using farm-fresh food to educate children from underserved communities about health and nutrition. What has contributed most to Liz’s growth is her innovative approach to business. She has incorporated flexibility into the company’s image, financial structure, and has remained adaptable while maintaining a consistent company philosophy.
These two women have taken the cues from the economic environment around them to develop their businesses to accommodate their clients. They have received this wonderful honor from Ernst & Young because they are the perfect example to inspire other entrepreneurs to not be afraid of taking a new direction. It doesn’t mean you have to lose your original focus, but by being flexible and planning for the future, you can help your business thrive.
Click here for more information on this year’s winners of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award.