Dell announced recently that it would bring together the world’s leading women founders, investors, policy makers and thought leaders for the sixth annual Dell for Entrepreneurs Women’s Summit, formerly known as DWEN – Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network Conference.
Taking place in Berlin, Germany on June 28-30, 2015 this event will discuss how to make real change for women entrepreneurs on a global stage. The Summit will connect more than 200 of the world’s top female entrepreneurs, business leaders and media to share insights and best practices as part of a vibrant entrepreneurial community. Programming will be centred on the impact that women-owned businesses are having on the global economy, focusing on why 2015 will be a breakout year for women in leadership. Dell will also reveal findings of the 2015 Women Entrepreneur Leaders Index, the only index to measure high-impact female entrepreneurship globally.
I had the opportunity to interview 2014 DWEN conference attendee, Virginia Poly , founder of Poly Services Group. I asked her about her entrepreneurial roots and if she would share some business advice for fellow entrepreneurs.
Q: What drove you to build your company?
A: “I have always been a bit of an entrepreneur,” began Poly. “Dad had his own business – restaurants, car dealerships.”
“I started my career in the IT industry; in IT training. I moved into account management and sales; staffing was also a service offering. The company I was working for was being absorbed by a larger entity and [this change] gave me the impetus to start on my own. I was eight months pregnant when I founded Poly Placements Inc.! My Initial plan to work part-time, but big projects started to come in. Business grew quickly, and projects were successful, with lots of organic growth.
“[Today] Poly Services is now a company of over 60 people and growing.”
Q: What was the toughest part? And, today?
A: “Then and now the people piece is always the hardest,” replied Poly. “Finding individuals who are a good cultural fit is very important for any organisation, but especially for a small business that is evolving quickly.”
Q; As a successful Canadian female entrepreneur, can you share your insights on how to build a winning business?
A: “Surround yourself with good people,” Poly remarked. “Learn to let go: trust your people/team and empower them.”
Q: What are some of the top talent traits and skills that you look for in candidates?
A: “Core things are very important. It’s key to focus on people who are passionate and share her passion for the business,” began Poly. “[I look for people who are] aligned with the business objectives, interested in growing the business and thrive in an environment where they have a lot of autonomy. Intangibles are more important than job skills,” she added .
Q: What technologies / channels do you leverage in your business?
A: “Poly Services Group is mobile and everything is online,” explained Poly. “Our focus is our website [for our clients and our team.] We depend on technology to collaborate and share information, using cloud-based applications, such as SharePoint, for accessibility by the full team. Everything is on the cloud. Our office is in Toronto, but our extended team is remote.
Poly further described her preference for low-cost off the shelf technology that her team researches, customizes and tweaks to suit Poly Services Group.
Q: Why did you get involved with Dell for Women Entrepreneurs? (formerly DWEN)
Poly responded, “Dell for Women Entrepreneurs is an amazing initiative. Dell provides an opportunity to network with women globally and to learn from each other. The ability to “call” on an entrepreneurial network locally and in other countries helps me envision going global.”
Poly also participates in Toronto’s Board of Trade as well as Women Presidents Organisation (WPO). “For a small business in the city, the Toronto Board of Trade plugs me into pressing city issues, helps networking and relationship management, too. I also attend WPO events once a month, which provides a tremendous opportunity to meet women with similar sized business and to discuss challenges and opportunities in business.”