Betsy Skovborg, VP of Pepsi-Cola Bend
Female entrepreneurs and CEOs are taking the initiative to become more prominent in the business community and grow their individual businesses by starting the first consortium of female executives in Central Oregon.
They call themselves simply the “Women’s CEO Team.” It’s facilitated by Opportunity Knocks, a Bend company providing business assistance training and educational programs.
The group met for the first time in February. The monthly meetings provide executives the opportunity to confidentially discuss various problems their business is facing or bounce ideas related to marketing, developing business plans, human resource issues, accounting and other business topics. There are currently nine members, and two are expected to join the group in the next month. The capacity is 12.
“It’s not a networking group; it’s very organized and methodical so no one’s wasting their time,” says Chris Schroeder, a financial manager for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.
The group targets female executives with at least one year of experience. “The goal is to help average businesses transcend to good and to help good businesses transcend to great,” says Connie Druliner, a facilitator for the group.
Sarah Laufer, CEO for PlayOutdoors.com, a web company selling outdoor clothing and equipment for children, helped found the group out of feelings shared by many involved that there are too few resources available for women in the area. Other areas have similar groups, such as Portland Female Executives.
“In Bend in particular, there’s really not a lot of women-owned companies,” Laufer says. “You definitely find yourself feeling … that there’s not a lot of support out there.”
Betsy Skovborg, the vice president of Pepsi-Cola Bend, thinks a group specifically for women helps them deal with issues such as laying off or firing employees, something Laufer says she has already gotten advice on.
One of the hopes for the group is that it will help increase the visibility of female business executives in Bend and attract others.
“In general, Bend is changing slowly but surely,” says Skovborg. “I think it would be inviting to know that there was a CEO group in central Oregon.”