Q & A with the Fellows
About the Initiators Fellowship
The program provides the next generation of Central Minnesota's aspiring business leaders with the opportunity to use their entrepreneurial spirit to address society’s needs while solidifying their leadership role in the region. Initiators Fellows are drawn from the 160 hometowns and two tribal nations served by the Initiative Foundation.
1. How has being an Initiators Fellow impacted your business venture thus far?
Since receiving the fellowship stipend, I have opened a Filsan Consulting office in St. Cloud and have managed to provide a series of customized training for area employers and employees. The stipend allowed me to concentrate on my enterprise, grow my network and my potential customer base. The Initiative Foundation connected me to a trusted and reliable mentor who helps me uncover new opportunities, overcome barriers, build meaningful relationships with business leaders and set achievable goals. On the top of that, this program impacts area employers and the larger business community.
2. What are some skills, insights, etc., that you have learned from being a Fellow?
Specific skills I have gained during the Fellowship include project management and entrepreneurial knowledge. As a Fellow, I've learned innovative ideas and have gained insights into making good decisions about opportunities and potential project plans. These skills help me identify and focus on a market niche, make a realistic goal and prioritize “my big rocks”—the major responsibilities I want to get done first. While in the startup process, I've learned to be explicit about my personal and entrepreneurial goals, work under pressure and how to fulfill tasks relevant to my desired entrepreneurial path. I've also honed skills such as adaptability and resiliency.
3. What are some current/new happenings with your business venture?
While providing customized cultural competence, diversity and inclusion training for employers to better understand the culture of immigrant and refugee employees, we have identified a need for translation and interpretation services. We have seen a dramatic growth of new American populations in the region, and we therefore are in the process of setting up systems to manage interpretation requirements. Our company provides conflict resolution, recruitment and retention of diverse talent, performance management for success, prevention of workplace harassment and leadership development. We address workforce issues in the community while creating a healthy connection between area employers and employees. For employees, we offer on-the-job training on the expectations and cultural norms they need to apply in order to succeed and advance in the workforce. All of these trainings will build thriving and vibrant communities crucial for our region’s future.
4. Anything else you would like to add about your experience as a Fellow?
While working with companies, we've gained useful experience and exposure. We've met business leaders and decision-makers who have connected us to other industries. We've gained a greater understanding of the companies’ requirements and our customers’ needs. Now our services have expanded to Willmar and the Twin Cities.