Q&A With Anne Caruso, Incoming President of NAWBO SJ
NAWBO SJ is excited to announce that Anne Caruso of Networks Plus will be the new President of our chapter beginning July of 2017. Since its inception in 2003, Anne Caruso and her husband, Jerry, have grown Networks Plus from a small IT business to one of the region’s most sought-after providers of digital services with expanded services including VoIP and website design and consulting. This past February, Networks Plus was awarded Company of the Year by NAWBO South Jersey at the annual Beyond the Glass Ceiling Awards Gala & Dinner.
Prior to becoming President, Anne served on the board as Director of Technology. Here we spoke to Anne about her new opportunity to serve NAWBO South Jersey and the women entrepreneurs in our region as well as why other women should get involved:
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a woman business owner?
Work-life balance is probably the biggest. The life of a woman can be quite the juggling act. We’re the CEOs of our home and business. We are 24/7. This past year I cared for my newborn granddaughter full-time at my office while running my business. I knew Networks Plus could handle it because I knew the caliber of the team I had in place, but I didn’t tell anyone for fear we’d be passed over for opportunities because of how it would be perceived. Thanks to the support of the two young women on my team, I’ve had my most successful year yet. As they say, “never underestimate the power of a woman!”
What advice would you give to a woman entrepreneur launching her first business?
Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Make yourself visible in your business community. You don’t always need to be the one talking – listen and learn from the leaders that surround you. Joining NAWBO offers many tools for a woman entrepreneur who’s just getting started.
Why did you decide to join NAWBO and why do you remain an active member today?
Women entrepreneurs encounter challenges that are unique and different from men. I became a member of NAWBO because I was seeking a group that served women and offered support for these unique challenges I was facing. NAWBO SJ has provided me with that support as well as the opportunity to surround myself with like-minded women who are truly a sisterhood. Because of this organization, I have been blessed with the good-fortune to learn from so many amazing women business leaders in this region. And we have a lot of fun!
What advice would you give to women entrepreneurs thinking about joining NAWBO leadership?
Jump in with both feet. Don’t worry about failing – your NAWBO sisters won’t let you. The mission of NAWBO is to help other women grow their businesses.
What do you hope to achieve during your tenure as President of NAWBO SJ?
First and foremost, I would like to change the perception of NAWBO SJ from just another “networking group” to what is really is: an elite sisterhood of women entrepreneurs who propel each other to greater success. The demographics of our chapter range from bankers to chefs to home healthcare owners, attorneys, marketing experts and even a Rita’s Water Ice woman-preneur. And there is absolutely no competition within the group. I want the women entrepreneurs of South Jersey to recognize the great value of this organization and to be lining up to join. I would also like to encourage younger women in our community to join through our partnerships with Girl Scouts of America and Alice Paul Institute.
What is your favorite quote and why?
“I would like to be known as an intelligent woman, a courageous woman, a loving woman, a woman who teaches by being.” – Maya Angelou
People often say they’re going to do something but then don’t follow through. I feel my success stems from my actions; from participating and contributing for the greater good. It goes back to the NAWBO mission to be a servant leader. It comes back to you in abundance. I also feel that mentoring our young people is so important. We need to recognize not only that they are our future, but that they mentor us as well.
If you could change one thing to open more doors for women entrepreneurs, what would it be and why?
If I could wave a magic wand and change one thing it would be wage equality, as well as increased funding for new businesses. Sadly, it all starts with money. I’ve known many potential women entrepreneurs who had great ideas but were unable to see them through to fruition because of lack in financial resources.