The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Entrepreneur offers business advice at SMC

Madeline Miles | Thursday, October 13, 2011

Empowering employees is a key to entrepreneurial success, said Jennifer Prosek, founder and CEO of CJP Communications, on Wednesday.

The Saint Mary’s College Women Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI) hosted Prosek as the second Entrepreneur-In-Residence on Tuesday and Wednesday.

WEI is a joint project between the Department of Business Administration and Economics and the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership.

Prosek spent her time at the College speaking to students, faculty and members of the community about how to be a successful entrepreneur.

“If I can teach people ‘the business of the business,’ I can immerse and teach them what it means to grow,” Prosek said. “In my firm, we teach all of our employees how to become more entrepreneur-like. Our employees understood how to develop new business, how they make money and how they fit into it.”

Prosek graduated from Miami University of Ohio with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature.

After graduation, she moved back to her hometown of Easton, Conn. and found a job at a local market research firm.

Although Prosek said it wasn’t her ideal job, it did allow her to come into contact with her current business partner.

“We decided to start a firm in the suburbs of Connecticut in a one-room office,” Prosek said. “All of these financial institutions, like trading investments, private equities and banks, were moving out of New York City and into Connecticut. We decided we were going to set up shop in their backyard and see if we can get some business.”

But Prosek said she still yearned for the “big, sexy PR job” in New York City.

In order to accomplish her dream, Prosek said she went on to earn her Master of Business Administration at Columbia University, where she could network with potential clients and learn the business aspect of public relations.

While attending Columbia, Prosek and her partner opened an office in New York City and Prosek simultaneously served as the CEO while attaining her MBA.

Since then, they have joined with a third partner and the firm has grown exponentially, she said.

Prosek attributed the growth and success of the company to the model of entrepreneurship in her book, “Army of Entrepreneurs: Create an Engaged and Empowered Workforce for Exceptional Business Growth.”

“As an army of entrepreneurs, we treat each of our employees as they are entrepreneurs and I’ve found it’s engaging to our employees and helped (us) to only grow as a company,” Prosek said. “It’s all about tapping into the inner-entrepreneur in everyone.”

Prosek said Saint Mary’s students, particularly future entrepreneurs, should always be persistent.

“There’s always going to be failure and rejection along the way,” Prosek said. “But I’m a big believer in fast failure. I don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on failures. Scrap it and move on to the next one. Students need to know to never give up.”