By Susan Salisbury The Palm Beach Post, Fla.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Penny Pompei is the first female leader of the Palm Beach County SCORE chapter -- the Service Corps of Retired Executives. The 40-year-old non-profit utilizes the expertise of more than 50 volunteer executives and entrepreneurs to provide pro bono mentoring to area small business owners. A great resource for women in business who need a hand.
The Palm Beach Post, Fla.
Penny Pompei, chapter chair of Palm Beach SCORE, is herself a "serial entrepreneur" with experience in architecture, construction, travel, winery operations, government contracting and nonprofits.
She's the group's first woman leader of the local SCORE -- the Service Corps of Retired Executives -- in West Palm Beach. The 40-year-old non-profit utilizes the expertise of more than 50 volunteer executives and entrepreneurs to provide pro bono mentoring to area small business owners.
"My diverse experience taught me that business is business. Whether you are managing a winery or IT services, the challenges are similar," Pompei said.
"Fifty percent of business start-ups fail in the first year, but not those who seek out counseling from qualified mentors who have been there, done that," she said.
Name: Penny Pompei Age: 74 Hometown: Born in Great Falls, Montana
Where you live now: Singer Island
Question: How your business has changed ?
A: Our mentors must now be versed in a wide range of business issues. While in the past the assistance requested focused on bookkeeping issues or print ad copy guidance, today's mentors need to know about social media marketing, IRS tax code compliance, HR regulatory compliance, merger/acquisition issues, franchising options, and even an occasional IPO.
Question: What was your first paying job and what you did you learn from it?
A: The first real, steady job was in the engineering department of General Telephone Company in Spokane, Washington. I learned how important it was to work as part of a team and although my tendency is to want to take charge of any situation, a lot more progress can be made if you can motivate a team of people to all work together toward a common goal -- as long as that goal is articulated in advance and understood by all.
Question: What was your first break in business?
A: So many along the road it's hard to pick out one. The common denominator throughout was that bosses along my career road seemed to find abilities within me that I never knew I had. Today, we call them mentors, back then we just called them "a great boss." I was blessed with some extraordinary men bosses who took the time to teach me what they knew and what I needed to learn in order to become successful in the business world. You have to remember I was born in Montana and raised in a small farming community. What I knew about business you could put in a thimble.
Question: What is the best business book you have read?
A: "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu
Question: What is the best piece of business advice you ever received?
A: Every problem has a solution -- sometimes you have to get outside the box your head lives in so you can find it.
Question: What do you tell young people about your business?
A: Don't believe the movies. Starting a business is the hardest thing you will ever do in your life, but it is also the most rewarding emotionally and financially. Be smart and ask for help. Our mentors thrive on being able to help young and old in navigating the very rough waters of launching and then growing a business.
Question: What do you see ahead for Palm Beach County?
A: I am passionate about the future of this particular county. I lived in Silicon Valley at the very beginning of the technology boom back in the 1970s. There was a palpable energy that inhabited everything about the area. You could feel it in the air. That same energy is present in Palm Beach County and that is why we chose this area to make our home.
Question: Where we can find you when you are not at the office?
A: I'm probably at home on Singer Island working on my computer or at JVC Broadcasting to record our radio show -- SCORE-ing Your Business. This volunteer position, about which I am very passionate, is a 40-plus hour a week job. Someday soon I will get back to golf and maybe some travel but right now my focus is on building Palm Beach SCORE into the premier organization it is destined to be.
Question: Favorite smartphone app?
A: The Weather Channel
Question: What do you look for when hiring employees?
A: I won't hire anyone who doesn't deeply care about doing a good job. It's not really about ability, it's about caring that the outcome of your work product is always something of which you are proud and will help the organization prosper.