On Friday October 11th, 2019, Chatham University’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship hosted their second event in the Women Business Leaders Breakfast Series for the 2019-2020 year. The series highlights female regional business leaders and is meant to help both students and working professionals via networking and interactive presentations on topics essential for women in business. Don’t forget that all events held by the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship offer free admission for Chatham Students! The October breakfast meeting was entitled “Adopting an Entrepreneurial Mindset in Healthcare” and included a panel of three alumni: Dr. Tosin O. Emmanuel PhD, Dr. Nancy C. Foley PT, DPT, PhD, and Elizabeth Sherman, MOT, OTR/L. It was moderated by Dr. Patricia Downey PhD, Dean of the School of Health Sciences.
All three panelists received a Chatham University Health Science degree and went on to develop unique, entrepreneurial, and innovative practices, businesses, and organizations. Dr. Tosin O. Emmanuel is the founder and President of Therapists Without Borders Foundation, an organization that seeks to provide underserved communities with therapy. Emmanuel created this organization because she wanted to promote Occupational Therapy around the world and be a voice of rehab. Dr. Nancy C. Foley PT, DPT founded Foley Physical Therapy with the goal of offering quality care at an affordable cost. Elizabeth Sherman, MOT, OTR/L is the owner of Heart of Gold, Pittsburgh Therapy Project LLC an organization that offers advanced physical and emotional healing. Sherman started this business because she found limitations within traditional training and wanted to offer her patients more advanced healing therapy techniques.
These women discussed many aspects of entrepreneurship, including mistakes and successes as well as tips and tricks. When asked what was something unexpected that came while pursuing their business ideas, the three panelists all commented on how much extra energy it takes to run a business; they do not get the luxury of as much time off as they would in a normal position or practice. Their success, however, is measured in other forms. Dr. Emmanuel of Therapists Without Borders Foundation is proud of her advocacy work, especially in regard to her stint with UNICEF to help end child marriage in her home country of Nigeria. For Dr. Foley, her biggest success thus far has come via her ability to make charitable contributions to organizations she values, as well as the invitations to speak to groups like the Women’s Breakfast Series. Sherman says her biggest success is being able to have her own platform as a healthcare provider; she’s also happy to be grounded here in Pittsburgh.
With these successes came mistakes and struggles along the way. Dr. Emmanuel stumbled in finding sponsors and people to help support her cause. Dr. Foley had to quickly overcome her discomfort with technology and accounting. Sherman dove in head-first, but in hindsight realizes she should have done more preparation before opening her practice. The three panelists left the audience with a few words of wisdom for those looking to start their own business. Dr. Emmanuel urges us to “Have a plan and go for it.” If you have a purpose and a passion for what you do, it will seem like everything else falls right into place. Have the confidence to believe in yourself and go for it! Sherman reminds us that when one is starting a business, all of the responsibility is on your shoulders; try to learn as much as you can before you dive in. Dr. Foley explains that you have to be willing to sacrifice some aspects of your life, such as vacation or weekends, in order to make your business a success. These sacrifices, though, helped these women create successful businesses, so in the end it was well worth it.
Networking is a key component of the Women Business Leaders Breakfasts, and true to form there were many fascinating people in attendance. I had the pleasure of meeting Mia Siclari and Michael Dunmire, both Credit Analysts at Bridgeway Capital, a Pittsburgh company devoted to providing capital and business education to promote small business growth and develop communities. When asked what they hope to gain from this event, both attendees said they hoped to gain more perspective on women-owned businesses in an effort to help their clients at Bridgeway Capital. I also spoke with Katie Pollack (Occupational Therapy ’19) who was excited to learn more about new paths and options for clinicians. Even with little to no background in healthcare or occupational therpay, I found these women’s stories engaging and enlightening, demonstrating the many ways one can use their degree from Chatham. It’s always encouraging to be reminded that we can forge our own paths!
Morgan Beatty is a first semester MBA student with a concentration in Project Management. Her work experience includes being a Supervisor at Tim Hortons back home in Erie, PA and an Intern at Clinton County Economic Partnership. Besides being an MBA student in Project Management, talk to Morgan about painting, Disney World, or studying abroad!