How Sybil Ege had the courage to leave her corporate career to build her own company

May 29, 2019
For 30 years, Ms. Ege's early career experience was in corporate America in the Information Technology field, managing the development and implementation of large and complex software systems. She has also been a small business owner for over 14 years, starting in the 1990s.

Ms. Ege additionally managed the Illinois Small Business Development Center at a local community college. In late 2016, wanting to continue support for small businesses after the center closed, Ms. Ege started Oracle Business Planning, a consulting service focused on financial and business planning.

In 2018, Ms. Ege had an opportunity to start an exciting new business. She collaborated with like-minded individuals to develop an integrated systems approach to food servicing, manufacturing, and farm production. This business - The Business of Food, LLC. – is all about creating an ecosystem that will nourish the community as well as help local food operators flourish. At this time, our educational program is in full swing, with our warehousing division opening next. A shared kitchen will follow.

Lastly, we will open a European style grocery that will sell locally sourced foods, provide quick and delicious meals, and offer food-oriented events to engage the community.
I learned a great deal from my corporate experience, but running my own business is where I need to be.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you have met in your career?

Sybil :
I spent many years in the corporate world until I finally realized it was not for me. I savored my independence, and that would often clash with management's ideas, or at least how to implement those ideas. While there was ample growth opportunity, the environment sometimes limited innovation and out of the box thinking. Eventually, I realized it was time to be in business for myself. I learned a great deal from my corporate experience, but running my own business is where I need to be.

Q: How you would describe your company culture?

Sybil : One of the best parts of owning your own company is that you get to set the values for it. What is most important to our company is respect for customers and employees, honesty/integrity, openness to change/innovation, quality/excellence, and empowering others to be their best. I have two partners. Together, we have well over 100 years of experience.
Superpowers come from their insight, work ethic, and fearlessness in the face of new challenges. Critical skills we bring to the table include marketing and sales expertise, very strong financial understanding, and truly understanding how to build trusting and caring relationships with our customers.
We want to hire people who will be open to new ideas, changing roles, and opportunities we cannot predict.
It's not so much about what you can do now, but how willing you can adapt to change.
Q: What are some challenges or trends you see in hiring today?

Sybil : New hires seem to want instant gratification, but it takes time to settle into a new job and establish yourself within the organization. Even with enhanced interviewing procedures, it is difficult to understand how a new hire will really work out until after s/he is in place. As a small business start-up, it will take time before our organization really shakes out and has a stable org chart. In the meantime, we want to hire people who will be open to new ideas, changing roles, and opportunities we cannot predict. It's not so much about what you can do now, but how willing you can adapt to change.

Q: Who inspires you and why?

Sybil : I studied music, so my heroes are classical musicians. It's not about the money or the fame a great musician may acquire. It's about their holistic understanding the music – their instrument or their voice, the score, their technique. They are able to embody the music completely and transport the listener. Not even the composer can so totally convey the intent of the music. To be the best at musical performance takes amazing dedication to the art. It takes perseverance and always striving for excellence.
I believe you have to lead by example, and that means commitment to excellence, getting the job done on time and on budget, and a willingness to sometimes do what's needed but not always what's fun.
Q: How would you describe your leadership style?

Sybil :
I am lucky to have worked with some extraordinary people in my career. I now want to pass on some of the advantages I had in the work place that helped me develop and gain success. I believe you have to lead by example, and that means commitment to excellence, getting the job done on time and on budget, and a willingness to sometimes do what's needed but not always what's fun. It is very important to educate your employees. I want to be accessible and to explain why, not just what and how things need to be done. This enables me to better understand each individuals' talents and identify future leaders.

Q: Have you ever had an hourly job? If yes, please share with us your experience.

Sybil : Yes, but many years ago. I was promoted early on in my career to a supervisory/managerial role. As an achiever, I worked to get my assigned tasks done, not to get paid for the hours it took.
Get our updates
Be the first to read our stories and updates. No spam ever.
Hire better people faster
Try Workstream and start our trial.