Planting Seeds of Success

Photo courtesy of Twitter

The Management Association (MA) invited Kathy Drew, innkeeper at Moondance Ridge Bed & Breakfast, to speak during the Entrepreneurship in the Hospitality Industry workshop on Wednesday, Sept. 29 in Van den Berg Hall 110.

About three years ago, Drew was fired from her position as creative director at the National Hockey League. She used her experience in the marketing and advertising industry to start a bed and breakfast in New Paltz.

“From traveling for my job, I stayed in some of the nicest hotels in the world and I like breakfast and I like to sleep,” said Drew.

With the help of her small business consultant, lawyer, accountant and financial advisor, Drew bought a house at 55 Shivertown Rd. for $925,000, turned it into a bed and breakfast, and has generated $600,000 in two years.

When Drew offered advice to aspiring entrepreneurs in the audience, she stressed the importance of planning an exit strategy. For Drew, her strategy involves selling her business in 15 years and earning at least 50 percent in profit.

She credited the success of her business to her career experiences, employees, social networking and learning to say no. However, Drew said that her ultimate key to success was her philosophy, “life is good,” and support of family and friends because “you can’t do it alone.”

Drew ended the workshop with words of encouragement.

“It’s your life, so live it. Don’t wait for things to happen,” she said.

Drew’s workshop was the first of many entrepreneurship seminars hosted by MA, a student-chapter of the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) that combines aspects of business management and human resources.

Other than the entrepreneurship seminars, which bring in local businesses to speak with students on many different business-related topics, MA members visit companies, attend weekend conferences with SHRM every spring and participate in community services, among other activities.

President of MA Armelle Kessler, a fourth-year business major and theatre minor, encouraged students to join.

“It’s really important to get involved on campus,” said Kessler. “Employers look at other things other than your coursework and whether you know what two plus two equals. It makes you more well-rounded and helps you become more marketable to potential employers.”

Even though MA is associated with the School of Business, students do not need to be part of the School of Business to join or attend events. Phil Diekroger, a third-year finance and management major and MA’s vice president of off-campus affairs, said that he believes the organization provides students with opportunities to “learn management skills without taking management classes.”

Within the first few weeks of the semester, Diekroger arranged for the owner of the Gilded Otter to speak during the Entrepreneurship in the Food Industry workshop on Sept. 29. Diekroger became involved in MA because he “was looking to get involved and to put something on my resume.” He also believes MA is “good for networking, whether it’s practicing networking or getting an internship or job,” he said.

Kristin Backhaus, the faculty advisor for MA, encouraged students to join because it “demonstrates to future employers that students are serious about their career goals and engaged in the professional community.”

Diekroger said that the size of the organization, about 20 members, gives students a chance to run events while being part of “an interpersonal and social environment.”

Kessler agrees.

“We’re smaller than other business associations, so we’re more of a family,” she said.

Students interested in joining MA should contact Backhaus,, join the Facebook page, “SUNY New Paltz Management Association” or sign-up on MA’s bulletin board on the first floor of Van den Berg Hall.