Today marks exactly one year since Career Over Coffee was introduced and we couldn't be more excited for today's guest. This Mother's Day edition of Career Over Coffee is a rather special one featuring our very own President and CEO, Celeste Gudas.
In addition to running a multi-million dollar business, Celeste is also a mother to 3 beautiful children, an entirely different job in and of itself! We were fortunate enough to sit down with Celeste and talk business, kids, and her plans for Mother's Day.
Briefly introduce yourself
My name is Celeste Gudas, entrepreneur and staffing industry guru. When people ask me what does having an entrepreneurial spirit really mean... to me, it means one's willingness to take risks. Sometimes it's more difficult for women to take financial and other risks, but you really have to embrace it to build a successful business and that's exactly what I did.
Despite being an economics major, I always felt I had a creative side so I got into fashion and parlayed that into recruiting. I had a vision and was willing to take risks, which in combination with lots and lots of hard work is how I grew 24 Seven from a single office in New York, to 12 offices worldwide. You know, each time you scale a business, it's kind of like jumping off a cliff - exciting but terrifying.
I launched 24 Seven in 2000 after working for 15 years in the fashion industry and we started off staffing fashion and retail positions only. Now we staff everything from fashion, retail and beauty roles to marketing, advertising, digital, and creative positions.
How (if at all) has being a mother impacted the way you operate a business?
As a mom, your time is limited so prioritization is key. You really learn to pick your battles, which I think has translated into the business. You realize what's important and what's not.
When people come to work with me at 24 Seven I have to assume they know what they're doing. I'm not willing to invest the time in micromanaging them so I really have to trust that they'll get the job done and thrive in their careers.
There's a certain amount of empathy that I come to the table with from being a mother, but I’m also committed to driving performance with the time I do have. We all need to come to the office, get what we need to get done and get back to our families because that's truly what's important.
What advice would you give to new moms re-entering the workforce?
The first thing I would tell new working moms is to drop the guilt. We all come into this with a tremendous amount of guilt. Ease up on yourself and understand you can have it all but it's going to be at different points in your life.
I became a mom and started 24 Sevenkindof simultaneously so I felt like the Wizard of Oz - constantly manipulating schedules and making sure everyone was where they had to be, at home and in the business. But that's part of being a working mom.
Some days you're in the zone at work and other days you're a fantastic mom. It's a counterbalancing act. Be sensitive, don't forget about yourself. I did that for years. I wasn't taking care of myself, but I later realized that needed to be one of my pillars.
As I mentioned before your time is limited so you really have to see the forest for the trees, decide what's important at that moment and make sure those things happen.
What surprised you the most about being a mom and running a business?
I absolutely love being a mom and it's a totally life changing experience but I would never give up running a company or working. I know many women who have given up working to be a full-time mom, which is most definitely a job in itself. But I feel strongly that the right choice for me was staying in the workforce. To me, working is important because my identity is so wrapped around 24 Seven. The choice was never in question. I love the fact 24 Seven is helping people at a critical time in their lives - finding a meaningful career.
Now that my kids are getting older and going off to college, I'm so grateful to have a career that I genuinely enjoy. This is a major shift in my life when I'll soon be an empty nester! It's exciting to know I still have 24 Seven to fill me up because I'm ready for the next chapter.