Successful women share stories
Nearly 10.4 million firms are owned by women, employing more than 12.8 million people and generating $1.9 trillion in sales, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research.

After reading similar statistics, the moderator of a Key4Women forum Thursday in Poughkeepsie said two things are becoming apparent.

“Women are becoming the major movers and shakers and second, women approach business different from men,” said Joan Lawrence-Bauer, executive director of M-ARK Project, a community development agency that serves five municipalities, including Middletown.

She led a panel of distinguished women in a discussion about being successful in business, as part of an event sponsored by KeyBank and Mid-Hudson Region Small Business Development Center.

The panelists shared their stories, including successes and mistakes, and they shared their life lessons at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel, in front of a crowd of about 100.

First Lady of New York Silda Wall Spitzer talked about the greatest risk she took — leaving her career as a corporate lawyer to raise her three children.

“I swallowed hard and said, ‘OK, I have to stop,’ ” Wall Spitzer said.

Nonprofit founded

Don’t think she’s home baking cookies. Wall Spitzer founded a nonprofit called Children for Children, which creates opportunities for young people to volunteer to benefit other children, and it runs like a business, she said.

Karen Hansen, partner of Sedore & Co., shared a tip with the audience on how to manage time.

“Just say no!” the Poughkeepsie certified public accountant said. “I’ve learned that I can’t be at everything. If I’m not there, what’s going to happen? Nothing.”

Many of the featured speakers said they struggled to define their roles as professionals and mothers. They said they learned to prioritize what was “mission-critical” and restructured their focus to doing a few things well, instead of many things poorly.

When it comes to making big decisions, Ann Marrott, vice president and dean of enrollment management of Ulster County Community College, said intuition is just as valuable as logic.

When bad decisions are made, it’s OK to look back, she said, “but don’t stare.”

When she looks back, she wishes she had valued her time better.

“I didn’t pursue creative, intellectual pursuits, but now I try to be more balanced,” she said.

Cynthia Andela, president of Andela Products in Otsego County, said one thing she could improve is her ability to confront personal issues, instead of hoping they go away on their own. Andela developed technology for processing glass. According to her Web site, the Grand Canyon National Park has been using her system to turn glass into sand and gravel.

The mechanical engineer admits she’s in a man’s industry.

“You can forget about the gender of the people around you, but you have to be smart and confident,” she said.

The Successful Women in Business Forum was part of the Key4Women program that offers a variety of networking events, sponsors research studies on business growth and increases the availability of resources to women.

The president of the Hudson Valley KeyBank district, Reginald Fuller, announced KeyBank has met its initial pledge of a minimum of $1 billion in lending to support women-owned businesses nationwide as of April. It has made an additional pledge of $1 billion in lending support over the next five years. About $34 million has gone to support Hudson Valley women-owned businesses.

“You will leave inspired, empowered,” he said, to the audience, during the beginning of the event. “Like the women who will address you this morning, you will feel like you can do anything.”

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