WILKES-BARRE — Female entrepreneurs had the opportunity to learn about leadership and how to be successful Wednesday from a local CEO with decades of experience.
Her message was clear: Nowhere is better than Northeastern Pennsylvania to get your start.
Helen Lavelle is the CEO and chief strategist of the Lavelle Strategy Group, an advertising agency based in Scranton.
Addressing the youthful crowd, Lavelle said she was only 28 when she decided to move back to Scranton and start her own business. In the years since, she’s become successful enough to have served as chair of the American Advertising Federation.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional or if you’re running the American Advertising Federation,” she said. “You are in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and you are just as talented as anyone in the nation.”
One of the most important points that Lavelle highlighted for up-and-coming businesswomen is that they should not hesitate to ask for help when starting their own business, recalling that’s exactly what she did.
“If you’re an entrepreneur, we don’t have to have all the answers,” she said. Lavelle emphasized it’s necessary to seek people out that can provide mentorship and can help an aspiring entrepreneur become successful.
Another piece of advice relates a great deal to those living and growing up in the digital age. Lavelle said it’s very important to “pick up the phone” or meet with people in person when networking and finding clients. “Stop emailing me! Stop Facebook messaging me,” she said jokingly.
Wednesday’s event was sponsored by the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce and Penn State Wilkes-Barre.
It was geared toward established entrepreneurs as well as young professionals and college students.
“If you look at businesses across America, the fastest-growing businesses are run by women,” said Wico van Genderen, Chamber president and CEO.
Holly Pilcavage oversees the Chamber’s THINK program, which helps interns, recent graduates, and other young professionals connect with important contacts.
She encourages young people to stay in the area to start their businesses.
“I think with the young professionals, the students — they bring fresh ideas,” she said. “Their dreams can happen here.”