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Member Perspective: Susan Jacobson

Posted Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

Member News, Featured Member, Diversity & Inclusion

Guest Commentator: Susan Jacobson, President, Jacobson Strategic Communications @Susan_Jacobson

Why is it important for the Greater Philadelphia business community to participate in programs that support minority entrepreneurship?

The people with whom you choose to surround yourself are the key to success. From my early days in public service to later growing a successful Philadelphia-based communications firm, I’ve realized that colleagues, peers, friends and family are key, and leaning on those relationships when you need them the most is essential.

Along the way, I’ve taken a particular interest in mentoring young professionals — especially women — because I know what it’s like to walk in their shoes. I once served as the youngest state campaign director in the nation, and was one of only two women to hold such a position, in the 1988 presidential campaign. That experience, combined with having some terrific mentors of my own, has taught me that paying it forward is truly rewarding.

Programs like the Chamber’s CEO Access Network are critical because they provide access, skills and expertise to women and minority entrepreneurs. This program is designed to connect CEO’s to entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds to help grow their businesses. My own mentor, Comcast’s David Cohen, started CEO Access 9 years ago – and while I didn’t have the opportunity to participate in the program when I started my business, I was fortunate to have David advise me in the early days of Jacobson Strategic Communications.

Mentorship programs, like CEO Access, are important for women and minority entrepreneurs, especially in the Greater Philadelphia region. The sheer depth and breadth of talent within this city is astounding. With over 100 colleges and universities, few U.S. cities are home to as many institutions of higher education – the same universities that act as engines to our thriving entrepreneurial spirit. However, 2016 Census Bureau statistics ranked Philadelphia ninth in minority-owned businesses and ninth in female-owned businesses.

More simply, entrepreneurs – particularly these minority groups – often don’t have the access, resources or contacts to help them get a foot in the door during the critical start-up phase. Mentors bring a wealth of experience, networking opportunities, and real-world advice.

Last year, the Chamber asked me to serve as a mentor to Peggy Gionta, the president and founder of Partners Consulting, an IT services company. I agreed – eager to pay forward David’s past mentorship. My communications firm helped Peggy with messaging for her business, speaker and media training, and outreach initiatives. Today, her company is thriving and was recently awarded the Chamber’s Professional Services Excellence Award for exceptional leadership, ingenuity and having a positive impact on the region.

As a female business owner, I’m grateful for the mentors who came before me, and am cognizant of the responsibility I have to help future minority entrepreneurs through the important work of the Chamber and networks like CEO Access.

Upcoming Diversity & Inclusion Program

Crafting a Diverse Culture
Thursday, November 30
8:00 – 10:00 a.m.
Mars Drinks Conference Center at the Chamber

Learn from local business leaders and diversity and inclusion professionals about how to craft a culture of inclusion within your company.

To learn more about the Chamber’s Diversity & Inclusion Initiative, visit ChamberPHL.com/Diversity.

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