by Cesca Janece Waterfield
For Roberts, Relationships Are Key to Her Company’s Success
In 2001, Genevieve Roberts, along with partner Lee Weisiger, established human resources firm The Titan Group. In a post-9-11 economy – not to mention with an infant at home – Genevieve admits that getting the new business up and running was tough, even though she had more than 20 years of experience in the field and a Georgetown University M.B.A. Since then, The Titan Group has established offices in both Roanoke and Richmond while earning national credentials. It was named by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce as one of Virginia’s “Fantastic 50”. In 2009, the Maine native was the recipient of the National Association of Women Business Owners’ “Richmond Entrepreneur of the Year” Award. Genevieve and her husband Chris have two children, Maddy, aged 9 and Tucker, 6. On Jan. 28, Genevieve will speak at the Women Mean Business Summit at the Richmond Convention Center. www.womensbizsummit.com Call (877) RISE 2011 to register.In her own words, Genevieve explains what it takes to be a Titan.
Girl mogul: The M.B.A. started when I was a kid! I was the one on my block who had the newspaper route, who had the babysitting service. I always went around my house looking for something to sell in the newspaper, driving my mom crazy. I always had that entrepreneurial spirit as a kid. I knew I wanted my own business.
After college: I started working for a manufacturer in New York. For a little girl from Maine going to New York, for me it was quite the adventure. I had the chance to learn about all the functional areas of a company. But in the back of my mind, knowing that I still had that driving to have my own business, to me it was about combining my real world experience with some classroom experience. That’s what led me to go back for my Master’s in Business.
Taking the leap: I was eight and a half months pregnant and left [my corporate job]. I gave birth to my daughter and tried to figure out what I want to do next. I thought this might be the right time to start a business. I had done a lot of networking. I had a husband who had health care benefits, so I said to him, can you give me three years to get this off the ground? Lee [Weisiger, her partner] and I launched the Titan Group. The reason we thought it would be a success even though it was a difficult time is we really wanted those small to mid-size companies who didn’t have HR to understand the value of what they could get from that. We did a market assessment and there was really a huge gap in that niche. We started the business all the wrong ways. [laughs] But we pounded the pavement and talked to everybody we could.
Juggling work and career: I feel very passionate about balance. [My children] are the joy of my life. When my first daughter was born, that really changed my life and helped me focus my values. I started my business when she was six months old. When she was asleep or in bed at night, I could work at night. At one point, I pretty much had a breakdown. My husband and I spent a weekend talking about it and praying about it. My schedule is unique in that I work in the office Monday through Thursday 8 to 2. I get them set up to do homework and then I’ll catch up in the afternoon. Then when they’re in bed at night. On Fridays, I work from home. I [strive for] flexibility and breathing space. I think I’m actually more productive knowing that I have a window of time to work in.
Practicing what she preaches: I role model what I preach to employees, so if they need flexible schedules, we’ve had employees in the past who work completely from home. At the end of the day, we have to make sure that our clients are happy. I trust my employees. [I encourage them] to look at flexibility of schedule and get help.
Genevieve’s Top Four Job Search Tips
You have got to find a way to differentiate yourself in this job market. Figure out what it is about your background that makes you more unique than the next person.
Have your 30 second commercial down pat, so that whoever it is you’re talking to, you can be very clear what it is you’re looking for. Be very specific about that.
Network, network, network, particularly in Central Virginia, if you’re looking for a job, you’re going to find it by going to some event.
Whatever communication you generate, whether it’s your resume, a cover letter, a follow up email or a thank you note, make sure there are zero mistakes. I can’t tell you how many it’s either an unprofessional tone or grammatical errors. That will tank you. People toss that in the trash.