Aldonna R. Ambler, CMC, CSP
Aldonna Ambler is known as The Growth Strategist™. The resilient growth of her multiple businesses across 3 recessions has been recognized by over 2 dozen national and statewide “entrepreneur of the year” awards. We named Ambler “Garden State Woman Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2008 and she was the NATIONAL “Woman Business Owner of the Year” for 2000. We caught up with Aldonna recently to learn more about her impressive background and to get her guidance for other aspiring women.
Garden State Woman: Aldonna, let’s start with today. Tell us about the various things you are involved with.
As an entrepreneur, I start and expand businesses during economic slowdowns. It’s been 38 years, so this is my 4th recession. Executives of mid sized companies who are determined that their companies will continue to grow seek our guidance. You can just imagine the complexity of their situations and decisions. At this time, we are helping a community bank triple to $1Bil while only doubling labor-related costs. We are guiding diversification for a publishing company. We’re helping an internet marketing/website development company acquire smaller firms. We’re helping a promotional products company get into franchising. A few of our professional service firm clients are now establishing new locations, serving global clients, and attracting corporate sponsors.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a boring day in my entire life. We make things happen. My typical work week includes time providing strategic advise to intense executive level clients, interviewing executives of INC 500 companies on my weekly peer-to-peer-to-peer talk show (now in its 5th year), speaking about growth strategies at business conferences, writing articles/chapters/blogs, leading research, screening business opportunities, serving as an advocate for mid sized businesses. And of course there are the usual marketing, sales, and administrative duties any business owner has.
Garden State Woman: Let’s back up so we can better understand how you accomplished so much in your career. For example, where did you grow up? go to college? study? What were your early career steps prior to launching your own business?
I was the middle child in a large family in Rochester, New York. My father was a statistics professor and moonlighted on weekends helping manufacturers implement quality control. He would say “It’s not the control charts or the GUYS ON THE FLOOR. That part is easy. The problem with CORPORATE AMERICA today is that the BIG WHEELS don’t know where they are going, how to get it across, or how to follow through.” So I asked my father if there could be a career for me helping the big wheels figure out where they are going, how to get it across and how to follow through. Remember, this is a long time ago. So he quickly said that the big wheels wouldn’t let anyone help them with that and if they ever did, it would NEVER be a girl.
Fast forward. Syracuse University was a great choice for undergraduate studies. I earned a teaching certification from Trenton State College (now the College of New Jersey) and went the Ivy League route for graduate school. My masters degrees are in business marketing and social work. I wanted to help bright people to keep going by being a consultant. I didn’t think I would also need to become an entrepreneur. I had been working full time since I was 14, was a summa cum laude graduate, and had consulting-related internships. But when I interviewed for employment with large consulting firms, they would actually ask if I was “of child bearing years.” IF they hired me, I would be placed in the back office doing productivity studies and would not work directly with clients. I had invested way too much time and money to do that, so I ran Consultation and Education (C&E) Units for a few mental health agencies and then later started my first business.
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