WBE Stars: Olsa Martini and Hannah Kain

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Six questions. Six WBE Stars. Six completely unique stories.

This week, we are revealing two Women Business Enterprise Stars, as part of our 3-week series leading up to the announcement of WBEC Pacific’s 2019 WBE Star; who will be revealed at the Summit and Salute national conference March 11-13. Olsa Martini, WBE Star 2008, and Hannah Kain, WBE Star 2012, have more in common than being exemplary women in WBEC Pacific and WBENC community. Both immigrants to the US, Olsa and Hannah worked hard to create their companies to their immense scales. Both women answered the same six questions, giving us a little insight on how they utilized their certification to not only become WBE Stars, but forward their companies to new heights.

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OLSA MARTINI

Olsa Martini is Founder, President and CEO of OLSA Resources, a nationally recognized staffing and engineering firm. While managing her company, she has faced and overcome many challenges to create her current level of success, adding multiple Fortune 500 companies and other nationally known businesses to the client list. In 2005, Ms. Martini was selected and accepted the position of Chair of The Oregon Leadership Forum for WBEC-Pacific. She currently is the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of WBEC-Pacific and served on the Board of Directors for WBENC.

How/Why did you start your business? What was your vision?

I started OLSA Resources because I saw a void in the market in an industry.  I also personally wanted to pursue a career as a business owner.  The staffing industry allowed me to accomplish my vision of providing a means to meaningful employment for a diverse universe of candidates.  This employment would lead to opportunities for individuals to grow, pursue educational goals, raise families, own homes, etc. 

What barriers did you overcome to be successful? How did you overcome them?

From a personal perspective, my first barrier was to achieve a greater command of the language since I had migrated from Albania.  Also, learning to balance the requirements of a start up with raising a young family with two working parents (as most women business owners) was an initial challenge.  I overcame both these challenges with the assistance of a strong family who helped in as many ways as possible.

Starting the business required working capital.  OLSA Resources started with one consultant; growing the number of consultants and clients would take a lot more.  I established a strong working relationship with a local rea bank.  This relationship has carried through today as the bank has worked with us through both good and challenging scenarios.

WBE Stars inspire others to achieve, who inspired you along your journey?

I have been privileged to meet many inspiring individuals throughout my 22 years plus entrepreneurial journey.  Among them, of special note, are three women well known to the WBENC organization. 

I met Kathy Greco, Nancy Creuzinger, and Paula Ratliff over fifteen years ago.  Although my initial meeting was through a client interface, I quickly discovered their commitment and passion for assisting in the growth and development of women owned businesses.  They have inspired and helped me to grow both professionally and personally.

I have to add two gentlemen to that group of inspirational leaders who have mentored and helped me to grow. They are Fernando Hernandez, and Kip Wright.  Both men, on their personal time, helped me to further understand variables important to my growth as a leader in my industry.

How has WBEC-Pacific and/or WBENC certification contributed to your success?

The initial certification gained us access to present our credentials and capabilities to various clients both regionally and nationally.

I became very involved in our regional chapter in 2002, and have remained active through today.  I also got involved in the WBENC nationally in 2005. My engagement in these organizations has enriched me as a business owner, and as a woman.  I have learned much from the other business owners, corporate members.  I have developed lifelong relationships which I value greatly.  I also have gained inspiration to continue to grow my business from fellow members of the organization. 

What does being a WBE Star mean to you?

I can remember being told I had been selected as a WBE Star some years ago.  It was a very proud moment; a recognition and validation of my success at the achievement of my business goals.

The pride is even greater because the recognition is from other women business owners.

What advice would you give other WBEs?

1. BELIEVE in yourself, even through the most difficult of times! 

2. Believe in your business, concept, etc. 

3. Surround yourself with capable team members, and allow them to do their jobs.

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HANNAH KAIN

Hannah Kain is President and CEO of ALOM, a global supply chain company she founded in 1997 headquartered in Fremont, California. Hannah was born in Denmark and immigrated to the US in 1990. She taught at Copenhagen Business School and holds three university degrees. ALOM has been WBE certified since 2001. Hannah is currently chair of the WBENC Forum Global Team and is also on the board of WBENC. She is passionate about diversity and inclusion and is involved in several other groups as well.

How/Why did you start your business? What was your vision?

I dreamed of starting and running a business very early, somewhere around age 4. Many years later I was “gainfully employed” running a plant providing software manufacturing and supply chain. However, I saw a need for a company that used technology to drive and manage outsourced supply chain. My vision was to lead in innovation, quality and service. I knew that delivery speed would become a major competitive parameter. That was 21 years ago. Today, this has become a significant differentiator for ALOM as we are competing in fulfillment, online technology and electronics assembly.

What barriers did you overcome to be successful? How did you overcome them?

I’ve seen it all. From my own self-doubts to severe economic downturn. From rejection to indifference. I believe you need persistence to succeed. I also have an over-all optimistic outlook. More importantly, I love what I do. I wake up feeling so privileged and grateful. Yet my true secret is my support network of strong women and men who want to see me succeed. That also inspires me to give back and help others succeed.

WBE Stars inspire others to achieve, who inspired you along your journey?

My parents, my staff members and many of my WBENC sisters and friends. My husband also inspires me. We see business problems differently, and that other perspective is valuable. I go to many business events and get inspiration from interesting business leaders. I have this inner desire to always contribute the best that I can.

How has WBEC-Pacific and/or WBENC certification contributed to your success?

I have received so much opportunity through WBENC and WBEC Pacific. It is phenomenal to have diversity professionals working to help make you successful. Certainly, our sales are much higher because of these doors that opened. We also found great suppliers in the WBE world. That is how we can maintain such a high diversity spend, but also why we can leverage our supplier network to accomplish more than our competitors. Some of my best friends and supporters are WBE’s that I met through the network.

What does being a WBE Star mean to you?

Being a WBE Star impacted me on three levels: First, it was simply a fantastic and heart stopping experience. The gala where I was honored as a star stands as one of the most wonderful evenings in my life. Just thinking about it makes me smile. Second, it opened even more doors than certification alone. The recognition is highly regarded, and I simply started getting more attention. Third, it reminded me that as a star I have a moral obligation to pay it forward. I am involved in WBENC, WBEC-Pacific and several other women’s business groups where I strive to help women succeed.

What advice would you give other WBEs?

Use the resources that are available through WBENC and WBEC-Pacific. Get guidance and listen. Be present and involved.

 

Stay tuned for next week’s reveal of the next three WBE Stars, with the 2019 WBE Star reveal being the final installment of the series.