Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Next Best Thing

    Early dreams for a new business took root during the agonizing ten months Army Captain Dawn Halfaker spent recovering from over 20 operations she endured when she was severely injured in Iraq. She had spent five months in Baquba, in the volatile province of Diyalah as a Platoon Leader, charged with training an Iraqi police force. Shortly after midnight in June, 2004, Dawn rolled out in a convoy of 4 humvees on a reconnaissance patrol when her vehicle was hit by a barrage of small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. One grenade pierced the engine of Dawn's vehicle before it burst immediately next to her, leaving her right arm hanging by a piece of skin and a few tendons. Dazed and covered with blood, Dawn still managed to order the driver to flee before lapsing into a coma that lasted twelve days. She awoke as a patient in Walter Reed Army Medical Center in terrible shape: besides burns and lacerations, Dawn suffered 5 broken ribs, a shattered shoulder blade and a deadly infection that almost took her life, and eventually led to the amputation of her right arm. For her heroism, she was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
During her recovery, as Dawn began to realize the military career she had desperately wanted since the first day she entered the United States Military Academy at West Point was over, she worried about "losing a sense of purpose.":
I really loved what I was doing. To me the military was a dream job with so much of my life and my identity wrapped up in it. So I was fiercely determined to stay connected to the fellow soldiers I had left behind on the battlefield.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Winning Women

For 24 years Ernst and Young, a global company with 144,000 employees,which specializes in assurance, tax, transactions and advisory services, has held a competition for Entrepreneur of the Year. But three years ago as part of its commitment to the advancement of women, the company initiated a competition exclusively for women-founded businesses. According to Maria Pinelli, the EY Americas Director, Strategic Growth Markets, "although women are starting businesses at twice the rate of men, they start with much less capital and they don't grow nearly as large. Our program is designed to help them scale to become market leaders."
     The criteria for the application process, which usually begins in the Spring, are straightforward:
The applicant must be a founder or a founding partner with at least a 51 percent ownership of a company less than 10 years old with sales of at least $1 mil within the last two years. Their online applications are reviewed by a panel of five judges. The 2010 panel included Howard Brodsky, CEO of CCA Global Partners, Jeri Harrman, Managing Partner of Avante Mezzanine Partners, Pamela O'Rourke, CEO of ICON Information Consultants, Vicki Raport, CEO of Quantum Retail Technology (a 2009 EY competition winner!) and Rob Scott, VP and Worldwide General Manager for Hewlett-Packard.