Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pennsylvania women are leading the way

Have you experienced the hottest new trend in tailgating, the Phan Cave?

If so, you can thank a couple of intrepid Philadelphia entrepreneurs, Jacqueline McDevitt and Colleen O’Hara, who came up with the idea to provide a hassle-free tailgating experience that maximizes the parking lot experience while minimizing the time and effort to coordinate it.

In fact, their business idea is so great that it just won a $10,000 prize at the 2014 Pennsylvania Business Plan Competition, which challenged women entrepreneurs across Pennsylvania to submit their business plans for a chance at the prize. The finalists pitched their business presentations, “Shark Tank-style,” to judges Lori Greiner, known as the “warm-blooded shark” on ABC’s hit TV show “Shark Tank;” Julia Hearthway, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry; and Renee Amoore, founder and president of the Amoore Group Inc.

Phan Cave co-founders Colleen O’Hara, left, and Jacqueline  McDevitt, right, won the Business Plan Competition after pitching their business to a panel of judges that included Lori Greiner, center. Photo Credit: Joe Appel Photography.

The Business Plan Competition was part of the Women’s Mentorship Symposium held on September 30, a day that celebrated women’s leadership roles in Pennsylvania businesses, non-profits and government. More than 500 women attended the symposium, which was hosted by the Pennsylvania Commission for Women. As chair of the Commission, I was honored to be a featured speaker alongside Governor Tom Corbett, First Lady Susan Corbett, and Lori Greiner.

The symposium also included a speed mentoring program that matched up entry level and mid-level career women with senior-level executive women in a variety of professions. Topics ranged from work-life balance to career transitions to salary negotiations, all in a fast-paced setting.

It was a pleasure to see so many women come together to celebrate the accomplishments that women have made in Pennsylvania and encourage future women to take leadership roles in the economic and civic development of our commonwealth.

After all, it was not so long ago that young women had trouble finding mentors in the workplace because so few women held positions of leadership. But because of initiatives like the Pennsylvania Commission for Women and the Women’s Mentorship Symposium, it’s getting easier for women to find their roles as leaders. Today, women like the founders of Phan Cave are forging ahead confidently to build successful businesses across our commonwealth.

I look forward to seeing how the next generation of women leaders will use the helping hands of their mentors to accomplish great things and solve big problems. As Lori Greiner said in her keynote address, “You can make anything happen!”

From left to right:  Gina Pferdehirt, Vice Chair of the Pennsylvania Commission for Women and Public Relations and Community Relations Director of UPMC Health Plan; Pennsylvania First Lady Susan Corbett; Lori Greiner, the “warm-blooded shark” on ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank;” and Sue Schick, Chair of the Pennsylvania Commission for Women and Chief Growth Officer at UnitedHealthcare Community & State. Photo Credit: Joe Appel Photography.

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