- 1976 -- Earned doctorate in physics and appointed post-doctoral fellow in laser spectroscopy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- 1976-1980 -- Staff member of the Center for Earth & Planetary Physics, Harvard University
- 1980 -- Joined the Earth and Space Sciences Division of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
- 1982-1985 -- Flight controller responsible for space shuttle payload operations at NASA's Johnson Space Center
- 1985 -- Selected as an astronaut candidate
- 1986 -- Qualified as an astronaut
- 1991-1996 -- Completed four NASA space shuttle missions
- 1997 -- Appointed director of Carnegie Museum of Natural History
- 2000 -- Joined iNetworks LLC as chief technology officer
How do you define success? Rayona Sharpnack's defining moment came when she realized she was able to meet Hillary Clinton simply by making a request to the former first lady's gatekeepers.
As founder and president of the Institute for Women's Leadership, a consulting organization that assists women worldwide in identifying their personal and professional goals, Sharpnack is on a mission to remove the obstacles that limit women from reaching their true potential.
She leads training programs, including "Women Leading Change," a three-day initiative that works to ensure there is a woman's voice at every decision-making table around the globe and provides participants with the communications tools to get there.
"For most people, leadership is about what you need to know and what you need to do," says Sharpnack. "But Amazon.com sells more than 1,000 books that will tell you what you need to know and what you need to do. We work on who you need to be.
"In my classes, I'm going for those 'Aha' moments, which really are the ignition and illumination of the genius of the participants themselves. The experience is much more meaningful and relevant than trying to learn someone else's shtick or methodology for leadership."
Sharpnack's career began as a professional softball player for the International Women's Softball League, where she led a strike against the owners of the San Jose franchise, questioning their business practices. She also realized her childhood dream of becoming a physical education teacher at a time when such a position was unthinkable for a woman. A national Junior Olympic record holder for the longest softball throw, she now plays shortstop for the California Express, a professional women's senior team.
Sharpnack assists women in creative thinking, enabling them to fulfill their daily commitments. Her visionary "Ready, fire, aim, aim, aim" philosophy strives to empower women who desire a work-life integration by removing barriers.
She has made numerous appearances throughout the United States, Australia, Brazil and Canada, addressing or co-designing tailor-made conferences for up to 500 people. In addition, she has worked extensively with Fortune 500 companies, including Apple Computers, the Gillette Co., Charles Schwab Corp., Hewlett-Packard and Wells Fargo in the advancement of women's leadership.
The women at Schwab felt the training made such a difference in the company's competitiveness that they asked Sharpnack to conduct a co-ed version, now a standard part of the company's human resource training.
"Quite simply, it was a life-changing experience," says Vivian Groman, senior vice president of finance and corporate administrative technology at Schwab, who completed Sharpnack's workshop in 1997. "You walk in with a challenge, some mountain that you don't think you can climb. When you walk out, you've built a higher mountain that you know you can climb."
Elizabeth Adrian and Jeffrey Golembiewksi have joined the law firm of Weltman, Weinberg & Reis as associates.
John Zatkos has joined Rothman Gordon as an associate practicing in the law firm's workers' compensation department.
Scott Westwood has been named a principal in the law firm of Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote. Regina Petruzzi has been named an associate.
Michael Frachioni and Nancy Saunders have joined DKW Law Group as corporate associates. Kathryn Kenyon and David Ruiz have joined as litigation associates.
St. Barnabas Health System has named to its board of trustees for 2001-2002 John Curran, chairman; John Howell, vice chairman; John Turnbull, treasurer; William Day, secretary; and Kathryn Jennings, assistant secretary. Board members are Alan Offstein, Joseph Scaletta and Thomas Schmidt. Retired chairman William Reed remains as a member of the board.
James Barnett has joined the consulting staff of SecuraComm, an independent security and engineering consulting firm.
Hae-Dong Jho has joined the department of neurosurgery at Allegheny General Hospital.
The Pittsburgh Technology Council's board of directors has elected Mark Evans, president and CEO of Confluence Technologies, as its chairman. Other newly elected members of the council's board are David Klasnick, Richard Lunak and Chris Maher.
John Waclawski has been named an associate at the law firm of Dickie McCamey & Chilcote.
Karen Hanchett-Serbin has joined Shared Vision Alliance as its client liaison and facilitator.
Edward Flohr has joined Alpern, Rosenthal & Co. as tax manager. Patricia Scarpaci has joined the accounting and consulting firm as senior tax accountant and Kristin Kacik has joined as semi-senior accountant.
Steven Russell has been appointed managing director of venture capital firm iNetworks LLC.
Mary Roche has joined marketing firm CommuniTech as public relations director and account executive for Communitech's Philadelphia region.
John Brown and David Malone have been elected to the board of directors of NSD Bancorp Inc. and NorthSide Bank.
Debra Flinner has joined NorthSide Bank as vice president and commercial loan manager.
Paul Greb, Christine Kwolek and Gary Phillips have joined the staff of WTW Architects.
Jennifer Perkins has joined the Pittsburgh office of Mullen, a full service advertising, marketing and public relations agency.
Matthew Modell has joined the Massaro Co. as an estimator in its pre-construction services division.
Terry McClusky has joined Elisco Advertising as creative director.
Robert Bernstein, managing partner of the Bernstein Law Firm, has been elected chairman of the standards committee of the American Board of Certification, the organization that certifies bankruptcy and creditors' rights attorneys.
The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission has elected Butler County Commissioner James Kennedy as its chairman and Greene County Commissioner David Coder as its vice chairman.
Homer Walton, a shareholder with the law firm Tucker Arensberg, has been appointed to the Allegheny County Department of Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Appeals Committee.
Shannon Clougherty has been named an associate at the law firm of Blumling & Gusky.
Jason Kunzman has joined Schneider Downs as senior consultant to the firm's litigation and forensic accounting services practice.
John McGinley has joined the Pittsburgh office of law firm Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott as an equity owner.
Coming out of insurance sales, Tillotson thought it only natural that investment advisers needed to know the full breadth of their clients' financial goals, responsibilities and assets before they could offer sound advice.
"How can you tell people what to do with their investments without knowing what their situation is?" says Tillotson.
Out of that conviction came a concept called Masterplan, a comprehensive plan for personal financial management. Masterplan has evolved and grown, but the premise that effective financial planning requires close long-term relationships with clients has remained.
Tillotson, now chairman of investment advisory firm Hefren-Tillotson, believes the emphasis on trusting relationships accounts in large measure for the quality of the company's employees and their high level of job satisfaction. That was demonstrated last year when the company was selected the best medium-sized company -- defined as those with 50 to 250 employees -- to work for by the 100 Best Places to Work in Pennsylvania award program.
The program, sponsored by public and private entities, includes a survey of each participating company's employees. Those results comprise 75 percent of a company's score, so employee attitudes and opinions weigh heavily.
Kim Tillotson Fleming, the company's president, cites low turnover, teamwork and civic involvement as signs of job satisfaction at Hefren-Tillotson. The strong relationships advisers form with their clients, she says, translate into close bonds among employees.
"I think that carries right over to the company," says Tillotson Fleming.
While the nature of the work accounts for high levels of job and company satisfaction, there are other factors. The company pays an annual bonus in those years when profits warrant it. That may come as no surprise, but Tillotson notes that when the company couldn't pay bonuses last year, employees didn't grumble.
The company also offers a tuition plan for career-related education, stock options, generous compensation plans and opportunities for advancement.
But its selection process in choosing employees may be one of the most important reasons workers find the company a good long-term fit. Tillotson Fleming says that in an industry in which superstars often hop from one firm to another for a better deal, Hefren-Tillotson's ranks have remained remarkably stable.
Says Tillotson: "If you just want to buy and sell and play the game, we're not interested." How to reach: www.hefren.com
Ketchum Pittsburgh has launched a service, Catapult, that it says is designed to educate young companies about the role of public relations and equip them with basic skills, strategies and tactics to communicate with the media and other audiences.
"Many emerging businesses typically lack the resources or experience to determine and achieve their public relations goals in the early stages of their life cycles," says Jeff Cohen, vice president and group manager of Ketchum's technology practice.
Companies choosing Catapult to jumpstart their public relations efforts will get a training session in public relations basics, a forum with key executives to develop focused corporate positioning and an influencer inventory analyzing media, industry analysts and other influencers in the company's industry.
Other sessions include materials development, preparing and releasing press releases, media training for key executives on how to interact with the news media and one that will explain the development of a complete strategic and tactical public relations plan based on the outcomes of corporate discovery.
As an investment, the break-even point for an employee is about three-and-a-half years. That means that person's cumulative contribution to profit equals the investment in hiring, training and paying him or her After that, you begin to earn a profit.
The benefits of retention are big. Studies indicate the value of a stockbroker is 155 percent higher when retention is 10 percent better. Keeping good employees longer offers a huge payoff in productivity and customer retention.
So, how do you keep them longer?
Better retention is the result of a systematic, disciplined approach to selecting, challenging, developing, managing and rewarding employees. Let's look at each.
* Select carefully. Be clear about the skills needed. Cultivate sources of good candidates. Screen out "untrainables" with tests and rigorous background checks. Next, conduct multiple interviews, use behavioral interviewing techniques and give a realistic job preview. Finally, arrive at a consensus to select the best applicant.
* Challenge often. One of the best ways to keep employees is to provide meaningful, challenging work. If you have it, share it. Employees like being productive; so turn them loose.
* Develop fully. People tend to stay if they are learning new skills. Keep them learning.
* Lead well. People join companies and leave managers. Make sure your managers are great leaders who listen to and effectively coach employees to better performance.
* Reward generously. Ensure that base pay is competitive, then create generous bonus plans tied to measurable results and business objectives.
* Keep the stars and keep them happy. There's a bigger payoff if you focus retention efforts on your star employees. Create personal retention plans to keep them on board. Supply challenging work assignments that help them reach their goals. And reward performance generously.
* Start now. The benefits of improved employee retention begin immediately. Improved performance and reduced turnover can be seen and measured. And, perhaps most important, you'll keep your star performers. Begin today so they won't be tempted when the headhunter calls tomorrow. Don Lodge is a founder of Catalyst Consultants LLC, a firm that helps organizations define success and improve performance. He can be reached at (412) 325-1777 or email@example.com.
The Shaner Hotel Group LP has acquired the 402-room Pittsburgh Marriott City Center.
Point Park College received a grant from the H.J. Heinz Co. Foundation to establish the H.J. Heinz Co. Chair in Business Management in the college's department of business.
Burns & Scalo Roofing Co. received the roofing contracts for Washington Tool and Machine Co. in Washington, Pa., and for the Oncology Nursing Society in RIDC Park West.
Elisco Advertising has been selected as agency of record by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Ripple Effects Interactive has been chosen to create a $550,000 Web-based infrastructure and gateway site for the interactive exploration of Pennsylvania history and state historical markers.
Magnet Communications won three new accounts, PPG Industries' self-cleaning glass and its CertifiedFirst Network, and General Nutrition Corp.'s Gold Card program.
American Textile Co. will build a 110,000-square-foot combined world headquarters/distribution facility at RIDC Riverplace City Center of Duquesne.
Access Data Corp. acquired Newton Partners Inc. of Sacramento, Calif.
Massaro Properties LLC has signed Mad Mex, part of the bigBurrito Restaurant Group, as a tenant in Robinson Plaza Two.
Landau Building Co. has been awarded construction contracts for an expansion and renovation of the Butler Area Public Library, renovation and new construction at the East Liverpool YMCA in Calcutta, Ohio, and upgrades to the Brew House in the South Side.
Telerama Internet has been selected by Carnegie Mellon University to provide DSL connectivity for all students who live in the university's off-campus housing.
PWCampbell has been awarded the design/builder contract by the Middleburg Bank in Middleburg, Va. The contractor has also been awarded a similar contract for the Kemba Columbus Credit Union in Columbus, Ohio.
Washington Reprographics has formed a digital color division, D.it Color Group. It has also secured a contract agreement from Crown Castle International to provide CAD detailing.
WTW Architects has been awarded the expansion and renovation contract for Mother of Sorrows Parish in Murrysville.
The Regional Industrial Development Authority of Southwestern Pennsylvania will build two speculative flex buildings at the City Center of Duquesne. The development will include two 20,000-square-foot pre-engineered buildings. Each will provide space for up to four tenants. The two buildings will share a parking area.
Goff Backa Alfera & Co. has formed the Wealth Management Advisory Group, a financial planning and wealth management service.
Rothman Gordon Foreman & Groudine has changed its name to Rothman Gordon PC.
Communitech has added ShoreGroup Inc. to its client roster.
Basic Business Concepts, a business consulting firm with expertise in finance, planning, business development, management and sales, has incorporated and is doing business from its offices in the North Side.
Houston Harbaugh has created a partnership with Lawyers Title Insurance Corp. to form Chatham Settlement LP.
Canon Business Solutions-Northeast Inc. has expanded into the Pittsburgh metropolitan area with an office in Moon Township.
Main Street Capital Holdings LLC and company management acquired Contraves Corp., a high-end precision electronics assembly company.
Colliers Penn has been selected by Neville Square Properties to market the former Pitts-Des Moines world headquarters in Neville Township.
bigBurrito Inc. has opened new Mad Mex restaurants in Robinson Towne Center and State College, Pa.
Andi Test Lab formed a cooperative agreement with Rhein Tech Laboratories Inc. of Herndon, Va., to provide environmental testing services.
Compunetix has opened an office in London.
Fitting Creative has been selected to design and implement a marketing campaign for CareerBuilder Inc., a Web employment recruitment company.
Turner Construction Co. has been selected for a $2.5 million renovation project for the Three Mellon building, Downtown.
RE/MAX Select has opened an office in Wexford.
Have you ever stopped to think about what this means? The customer is the lifeline of a business. Besides employees, customers are the greatest asset a company can have and must be treated accordingly.
For many companies, this has been a difficult time. People are waiting it out and treading cautiously through this first quarter, keeping purchases to a minimum. However, some have prepared for a time like this and are in a position to stay on the offensive and press forward.
Those companies took careful measure of their return on each investment, assembled the best management team and are quick to adapt to new circumstances. They instill confidence in their customers.
For customers to continue to make investments, they have to be reassured yours is one of those companies.
Here are four principles customers look for before making an investment with you.
1. Innovation. Are you leading or following? Find new ways to set yourself apart from the competition.
2. Value. Give customers more for their money. When people receive more than they expect -- in goods or services -- they place more perceived value on that transaction, which leads to higher customer satisfaction.
3. Sound leadership. Good leaders make good decisions. Evaluate whether you have the right leadership to keep your company on top.
4. Customer service. Service doesn't end after the transaction is done. If you want to keep customers happy, stay in contact after the purchase. Stay up to date on their needs and find out what they like and dislike about your product or service, which will help you fine-tune it for the next customer.
Even when you think customers are wrong, if you listen carefully, they're probably telling you something about your business that needs correcting.
In the current economic climate, you can't afford to ignore them. If you and your staff remember the customer is always right, you'll never go wrong. Fred Koury (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president and CEO of SBN Magazine.
Radin, who started Internet Insider Radio, a company that produced a weekly radio program geared to help Internet users, is moving on to helping business owners work through the discomfort they are experiencing with their computer systems.
Radin's company, M.Masters, is consulting with business owners to help make their computer-related technology, from e-mail to office applications, more productive.
"I consider myself to be a personal productivity coach," says Radin.
But he's still going to do radio broadcasts. Radin will continue to produce "Megabyte Minute," a program airing on radio stations in 20 markets. And, says Radin, he's working on producing a television program. Stay tuned.