#ConnectedWomen: Irene Gomez, Chief Inspiration Officer, Corporate Media Services
Contributed by Irene Gomez October 17, 2017
Sometimes, what you least expect turns out to be exactly what’s right for you. Irene Gomez considers herself an “accidental entrepreneur”; but with her talent, her skills, and her drive, it’s no wonder that she’s built a successful empire in the world of communications.
As women continue to be a driving force for change around the world, this series aims to highlight those who demonstrate an exceptional commitment to creating an impact.
In this exclusive interview, Connected Women caught up with Irene Gomez, Chief Inspiration Officer at Corporate Media Services. This is her story.
The Beginning Of Her Journey
I started my communications agency 25 years ago with a friend. It was a natural progression: In my previous jobs, I was always involved in writing, editing, and organizing seminars; when Corporate Media officially opened, we focused on desktop publishing; then came conference organization for a non-profit scientific group with offices around the world. In 2010, I added public relations to the business, and rebranded the company as The Total Communications Company.
I consider myself an “accidental entrepreneur”. As much as I enjoyed my previous work, the last of which was with an American organization, I had reached a glass ceiling. It’s not about the money; but in a way, everything had become routine and I was bored. With two of my best bosses (who are also my mentors) moving to China and Japan respectively, there was really very little reason to stay. I called them up and shared my plans, and they both gave me their blessings – one even said“it’s about time!”
Be Prepared For The Unexpected
I guess at the back of my mind, I always knew I wanted to do something in communications. I love writing, I am a good organizer, and I am a people person – like the Nokia ad, I am always connecting people!
A chance work trip to a US Embassy regional printing office in the Philippines sealed the deal. I was mulling about my career path. During this trip, I was taken around the printing offices, met with the creative team, and was introduced to my first Mac (I love Steve Jobs!). The editorial consultant gave me a quick lesson on desktop publishing – and the rest is history.
I will always be grateful to these folks. If there’s one lesson I’d like to share, it would be this: Always be prepared for the unexpected. I didn’t have many supportive people around me when I first started; I had to drown out the voices of negativity and my business partner had to leave within the year. It was daunting. It came down to absolute survival. Fight or flight? I chose to march on.
My advice: In life, whether it’s personal or professional, know your passion, then pursue it by all means. Always research, talk to as many people as you can, and learn to discern and digest the information you receive before you come up with a good business plan.
With Business Comes Challenges
Running your own business can appear exciting and inspirational. Realistically speaking, starting and running a business takes more than hard work. It takes energy and sacrifice. If you’re in a creative business like mine, your mind is always spinning – it’s really hard to switch off!
I, more often than not, lie awake thinking about creative ideas and strategies to get my clients’messages across. And when I wake up, or when I’m on the train, I’m always glancing through news on the phone or looking around for inspiration. But that said, I am where I want to be – right smack in the sphere of communications.
But running your business comes with unexpected challenges. Sometimes, it gets so hard that you want to quit –that’s the time to take a step back and allow yourself to revisit, regroup, refresh. Talk to people, talk to close friends – don’t suffer in silence. If you’re burnt-out or just feel you’re running on empty, step out for a bit! – Take a walk, go to a movie, take a load off your mind – and disconnect with the business and just enjoy some “me” time.
Look For Motivation Within
As an entrepreneur, the biggest worry is about the uncertain future – and the fact that you’re dependent on many external factors, like the economy, change in your client’s organizational structure, etc. You worry about overheads, staff salaries – these are real problems that you can’t run away from. I worry constantly and I won’t lie. I tend to go inward, usually for three days or so. Then I pick myself up, say “Enough is enough!” and get going. At the end of the day, look for motivation within. This will always drive you forward, no matter the circumstance. You are allowed your “down days”, but don’t get bogged down and stay frustrated to the point of paralysis.
Make it a point to do something about it. – Always keep moving forward – even the smallest steps matter.
It’s A Privilege To Be Able To Give Back
The greatest joy is the recognition I receive from my clients for a job well done. To cite an example: We received international awards for two fundraising cookbook projects we developed on behalf of Temasek Polytechnic and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. A technical manual we did for Tetrapak, a packaging company, was met with great appreciation from our client, who sent us a huge gift basket to recognize our contribution.
In my line of work, I come across different people, including interns who are still in university. It’s always a privilege to share my experience and mentor young people. They are our future. I take great pride and pleasure in being able to give back, by sharing my experience (in terms of both setbacks and successes).
A Working Capital Is Essential
Would I do it all over again? The simple answer is YES! Would I do it differently? The answer is YES! When I first started, I didn’t have any business experience. I should have done more in this area –it’s not just about formal education, it’s about learning from the right people and getting the right tools.
Finance was not my forte – I should have invested more time and energy in this area before starting my business. I had my own savings as start-up capital but soon learnt within the first two months that I was running out of funds. I didn’t anticipate all the extra expenses – the additional equipment, marketing expenditure, etc. Fortunately, when it came to taking a business loan to purchase equipment, I met with a bank executive who listened, saw me as a determined woman, and believed in me – and I got the loan.
So always remember this: A working capital is essential to starting any business. Get your numbers right. You have to first invest in yourself.
A Quote To Live By
“Seasons change, people change; You have to stay true to yourself.”
Work With Irene
If you’re looking to connect with people (your target audience and the media), connect with me.
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