Linda Descano, CFA®, President and CEO,
Jodi Genovese doesn’t just work in the family business—she’s making her mark on the transit industry and paving the way for female entrepreneurs everywhere. As Local Development Corporation of East New York’s 2010 Businesswoman of the Year, she has been recognized as a role model to women entrepreneurs and those who aspire to lead major corporations. Here’s how she got her start as well as her advice on successfully running a family business in a male-dominated industry.
What were you doing before you began working for your family’s business? Although my dad initially discouraged me (he was concerned that working with family might limit my ‘social horizons’), I knew from a young age that I wanted to work in the family business. After a brief stint working for another company at the age of 19, I joined Consolidated Bus full-time and haven’t looked back once.
What’s the key to running a successful enterprise? First and foremost, don’t take on too much at one time. Second, it’s important to surround yourself with good people. No leader can run a business alone. You need a support system. It’s critical to surround yourself with good people, people you trust and have your back. Look for people whose skills and experiences complement yours.
How did you pave your way in a male-dominated industry? It’s my style to go head-to-head with people, to be front and center. Starting out, I made sure I knew my stuff and spoke when I had something to contribute. I didn’t speak to hear my own voice. Over time, people listened because they learned that when I did speak, I would have something worthwhile to say. That’s how I gained respect as the boss’s daughter and then as the boss.
What is it like working with your family? My father founded Consolidated Bus Transit, and now my sister, husband, and brother-in-law run the company together. But honestly, I can’t imagine anyone in my family working together day in and day out. We have a long-standing rule. We don’t discuss business at home and we don’t bring in personal stuff to the office. You have to set very clear, firm boundaries. If you have a bad day at the office, you have to leave it there. We honor that and really take it seriously.
Who is your financial role model? My parents instilled in my sister and me the importance of giving back, of participating in our community. I want my children to learn the same lesson: there is no “free pass”—that you need to earn your own way. Work is key.
What words do you live by? I simply try to do my best every day.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure? Sitting down and digging into the latest Jude Deveraux novel.
In a word, what does money mean to you? I don’t equate money with wealth. Money is third or fourth on my list, well below my family and friends. Anyone can make money, but you can’t buy family.