Meet Sheila Burkett, President & CEO of Tuxedo Park Management, LLC and SheSolvesIT.com
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do professionally.
After twenty plus years of working in Information Systems for a large financial services company and approaching 40, I decided it was time for me to start and run my own business. Today I provide business and technology services to small business owners and not-for-profit organizations. The approach I take is to help people solve business problems utilizing technology efficiently and cost effectively. Our services range from long range strategic planning to specific solutions like developing websites or automating a task using spreadsheets. As I began networking and telling others about my business, I found tremendous reward when I helped individuals discover how to personally use technology they have and when I helped organizations grow through the use of technology. My long-term goal is to make shesolvesIT.com a place for people to go to for trusted technology advice.
What do you enjoy most about your profession and why did you choose it in the first place?
My first job after high school was as a technical and software troubleshooter at a financial services company. I discovered that solving problems and helping people was what I enjoyed doing. Getting a degree in Information Systems and building computer software systems allowed me to solve problems creatively and help people do things efficiently.
Tell us about the organizations your company supports and why?
My target customer is the small business owner, independent consultants and non-profit organizations.
The small business owners with fewer than 10 employees, less than 10 computers and little to no IT support are in need of a technology expert that can look at their business as a whole, offer solutions that meet their needs and don’t hurt their bottom line. I have found that independent consultants fit into this area and at times desperately need assistance on using technology effectively so that they can focus on their expertise. Small businesses are critical to our economy. After stepping out of my corporate environment and becoming exposed to small business owners on a regular basis, I realized how critical they are to society. The services they offer, the people’s salaries they pay and the effort they make in the community is incredible. They deserve someone with a technology perspective that appreciates what it takes to run a small business and wants to help make them successful.
I love working with non-profits as they typically have very small budgets, cannot afford expensive technology expertise but must use technology (especially the internet) to survive. Giving back to my community is important to me and I find myself always volunteering with organizations. One of the organizations that I am working with as a volunteer is the IT Entrepreneur Network (itenstl.org). I volunteered as an IT Mentor for start-up companies. That has evolved into being asked to mentor the director of ITENSTL and to sit on their Advisory Board. Through my association with this organization, I am receiving referrals for business. .
What is the biggest risk you ever took professionally and/or the biggest obstacle you have overcome?
The biggest risk I took professionally was leaving my position with a large financial firm where I was a senior director and had ownership in the company. Although I was successful and good at what I did, I was not sure if I could apply that experience and expertise in running my own company. The even bigger risk was if I would be able to convince others that I had the knowledge and ability to solve their business and technology problems. My biggest obstacle was networking and selling what I have to offer. One of the groups that I joined was ewomennetwork.com and I began attending their monthly lunches. Their approach to networking and telling others about my business has given me the confidence and ability to go to other networking events to talk with others about my services.
From where do you draw inspiration? Who have been your role models, mentors, etc?
I draw my inspiration from other small business owners. I am constantly amazed at how much time, energy, money and drive they put into their business everyday. Whenever I feel down, I read the St. Louis Business Journal or Small Business Journal about other small businesses and their success.
My dad and brother both have their own small business and are great role models for me. My best friend, Cathy and her husband Jim have been great mentors who have encouraged and supported me through this new stage of my life. My husband is my best supporter who along with my children remind me how much happier, relaxed and at peace I am since I started this journey.
How is the current economic situation affecting your company/organization?
I find that most small business owners are trying to utilize the internet and social networking more for their business. This is where I can help them be successful in selecting the right tools and using them without paying huge fees in the long run.
What one thing would you like to learn this year?
I would love to learn how to stay focused while working at home.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
My focus will be with my online community (shesolvesIT.com) and providing advice to a larger number of small business owners and non-profits. As a trusted advisor and expert on helping organizations understand and use technology, I will have several published articles and a book plus many speaking engagements.
What do you do for fun/relaxation/entertainment?
Much of my time is spent with my family, watching their sporting or music events. I am the board chair for a St. Louis art organization called Craft Alliance. My husband and I enjoy attending art shows and attending events for Craft Alliance. My family also volunteers with Sports Car Club of America in St. Louis and we help put on racing events at Gateway International Raceway. When I am not enjoying these activities, I love to read a good fiction book, watch movies and create scrapbooks.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
I never realized how stress was impacting my life until I left my job and made drastic changes to my life. When friends and family told me that I looked relaxed and happy, it made me realized how stressed and unhappy I must have looked in my previous life. That stress was holding me back and now that I am free of it, I am able to be myself, give more but respect the boundaries I need to stay healthy.
To learn more about Sheila and her company, visit: www.tuxedoparkmgmt.com