Businesswomen Start Workshop To Inspire Young Women Entrepreneurs
As a University of Minnesota student pursuing an English degree, Ali Stieglbauer never considered entrepreneurism as a career path.
“To be frank,” the now-22-year-old graduate said, “my whole life I’d wanted to be a writer and had no interest in business.”
Yet, in her final years of college, Stieglbauer gained a mentor: her new stepmother, Sue Hawkes. As the CEO of YESS!, a St. Louis Park company that aids businesses through periods of internal change, performance issues or growth, Hawkes is well-connected in the business community, especially so with businesswomen. With Hawkes’ business affiliations and being the founding chapter chair of five (out of six) Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) chapters in the state, Hawkes urged Stieglbauer to consider a career in business.
Last year, Hawkes and her stepdaughter traveled to Phoenix for WPO’s annual conference, which Stieglbauer describes as an “eye-opening” and pivotal experience in the trajectory of her career. “It wasn’t until I went to this conference with Sue with 800 powerful businesswomen in a room that I realized this was actually a viable option,” she said.
Stieglbauer ultimately joined YESS! after the conference and continued her mentorship with Hawkes. With Hawke’s knowledge and experience, Stieglbauer said she’s picked up “the softer skills that are vital to success,” or the information not often taught in a classroom, such as proper dress attire and formal communications through email.
Together, the stepmother-stepdaughter duo hope to share the strengths of mentorship with a broader audience by launching a Women’s Entrepreneurial Experience workshop on January 27 and another on March 8. Both events are free and will feature three to four WPO member panelists with another 30 to 40 WPO member in attendance alongside any 18 to 30 year-old women contemplating a career in business.
“Most of the young women are safe to walk out of the room after talking to 15 CEOs that night, and that’s being conservative,” said Hawkes. She hopes that young women of all career paths consider attending. “None of us care what anyone’s degree is in,” she said, “it’s completely irrelevant in small business. Instead it is: Can you think? Are you responsive? Do you like what you are doing? Are you passionate about it?”
Hawkes and Steiglbauer are also taking contributions to fly the younger attendants to this year’s WPO Conference in Baltimore. “For anyone who is moved by this or open to this, for $500 to $600 you can change the trajectory of a young woman’s life,” said Hawkes.
“My hopes would be that young woman see this is an option,” Steiglbauer added. “Now that I’ve had more opportunities at our company, I still get the chance to write a lot. In a small business or as an entrepreneur, you can combine all of the things that you love in a way that works for you and that’s what’s so appealing.”
For more information on the event, visit the Women’s Entrepreneurial Experience information page.