Learning from other business owners in the community is always important. It gives us all an opportunity to hear personal stories about how someone became a CEO, or how they turned a passion into a business. On October 8th, The University of Tampa held its Business Network Symposium, led by the University of Tampa’s Board of Fellows. The Board of Fellows’ mission is to serve as goodwill ambassadors within the community, in addition to providing financial and other support to the University. Attendees of the event had the opportunity to listen to three of Tampa’s CEOs: Brad Oleshansky, CEO of The Motor Enclave, Lauren Weiner, CEO of WWC Global, and A. Gerald Divers, Founder of the Bank of Tampa and Chairman of Emeritus.
Becoming a CEO certainly does not happen overnight, and there is always a story to tell. The first speaker, Brad Oleshansky, told the audience about his passion for cars, and how his passion eventually turned into a business. One piece of advice that Brad mentioned throughout his speech, was how important research is, especially in a specific area or field that you do not know a lot about. Since Brad knew he wanted to go into the “passion-business” industry, he flew around the world, and realized that many passion-business do not succeed/generate a strong profit to stay afloat. So, he decided to do as much research as he could about similar car storage spaces to the one he had envisioned, location, cost, and decided to take a risk. His risk was a successful one, and he has now opened up multiple locations as part of his business, which has expanded to Tampa.
Lauren Weiner was a military wife, who was pulled from her work at the White House to re-locate to Naples, Italy with her husband. Lauren saw a need for work, not only for her, but other military wives on-base as well. After networking, she was able to find a government consulting opportunity, and has since taken on multiple contracted projects. WWC Global has been a growing small business in Tampa, receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts, and has grown from only a handful of employees to around 300. Being a women CEO has posed its challenges, but Lauren has consistently stuck her ground, and has proven that WWC Global has a bright future ahead.
The final speaker, A. Gerald Divers told a very thoughtful story about his journey from a high school student who wanted to join the Navy, to becoming a banker. Growing up in Clearwater, Gerald has been in the same community for many years, which has helped him maintain lifelong connections and establish himself in the Tampa community. Gerald made an important point about allowing doors in your life to close, as another will open, and can be even better than the one that closed. Gerald was offered many different banking opportunities in his career, but was very humble and made sure to put his family first when making big decisions—consulting his wife at home when he was unsure what to do. Since then, Gerald has had the opportunity to be the Founder of the Bank of Tampa, and will continue to do great things in the Tampa community.
To learn more about the University of Tampa’s virtual events, or the Board of Fellows, visit: https://www.ut.edu/development-and-university-relations/board-of-fellows.
Categorized in: Work
This post was written by Elevate, Inc.