If Sharon O'Donoghue isn't the most ideal person to run the Central Indiana Women's Business Center, she has to at least be in the top five.
O'Donoghue's varied background, which includes working for a Fortune 500 company, as well as running a small business, is one of her primary assets. But her passion for helping women business owners identify and reach their goals is almost palpable when she talks-enthusiastically and endlessly-about what she's doing as director of the CIWBC.
"I am extremely humbled by these folks," O'Donoghue, 47, said of her CIWBC clients. "My accomplishments pale in comparison with how far some of these gals have gotten with the tools in their toolbox."
Still, O'Donoghue's toolbox is impressive. She has a bachelor's degree in economics and a law degree. She practiced law with a firm in Kansas City for four years before becoming a product analyst for Dayton, Ohio-based Mead Data Central, which was the information-management division of paper-industry giant Mead Corp. During her 13 years there, Mead Data Central became LexisNexis, and O'Donoghue ended up as senior vice president.
She then spent a couple of years in northern California doing consulting work for dot-coms. In 2000, her father's health issues brought her back to Indianapolis, where she eventually took over his flooring business.
O'Donoghue is now owner and president of Invincible Technologies Inc., which does marble and terrazzo restoration and floor finishing. ITI does work in schools, hospitals, corporate head quarters, etc., and recently completed the floor in the lower level of the Louisville International Airport.
Although O'Donoghue had been very successful in business, she had never worked in construction or run a small business. "I found out it's a very different beast," she said. That experience-taking over a company with 8 to 10 employees and having to suddenly "do everything from soup to nuts"-is one of the reasons she has a passion for helping other small-business owners.
The other reason she took the $40,000-a-year CIWBC job is because she had received good ratings as a people manager in her corporate days, and she missed doing that kind of coaching and counseling.
O'Donoghue now works about 50 hours a week at the CIWBC and 25 to 35 hours a week on her own business, which has annual sales of more than $250,000.
She also has a 7-year-old daughter, Ling, whom she adopted from China.
As for the future, the Chicago native said she feels rooted here in Indy, where she graduated from St. Mary's Academy High School before leaving for 25 years. And she feels certain she will continue to do the kind of work she's doing with the CIWBC. "I have a real commitment to women business owners."
Sharon O'Donoghue learned the hard way how to run a small business.