First-ever study of women-led Florida businesses opens eyes.

Do women business leaders have it all?


College of Business Administration Dean Joyce J. Elam.
College of Business Administration Dean Joyce J. Elam.

That’s what a first-of-its-kind study, conducted by three entities within Florida International University, showed. The College of Business Administration, the Center for Leadership, and the Metropolitan Center, along with The Commonwealth Institute of South Florida, which initiated the project, surveyed women-led businesses in Florida with revenues of $1 million or more.

“The study is an excellent source of information and, coming from the university, we can trust its integrity,” said Miriam López, chair and CEO, TransAtlantic Bank, university trustee, and one of the women among the top fifty identified in the report. “On a business note, it gave me insights into how we can expand our marketing to this group of people who aren’t really public figures.”

Luncheon recognizes women’s achievements.

Joyce J. Elam, executive dean of the college, was the principal speaker at the “First Annual Women-Led Businesses in Florida Luncheon and Award Ceremony,” held in June at the Four Seasons Hotel in Miami to honor these accomplished leaders. She highlighted key points from the study and handed out certificates to the twenty-two women on the list who were present at the event, which 160 people from across the state attended.

“It was truly inspiring to be in the company of such impressive and successful women,” said Elam, who conducted the research with Mayra Beers, executive director, Center for Leadership, and Amanda Bullough, a PhD student in international business and researcher for the Center for Leadership.

According to Beers, “The survey, which included a good cross section of companies, showed that women do have it all: husbands, children, successful careers, and the ability to balance it all.”

Women Business Leaders in Florida.
Women Business Leaders in Florida.

Rosa Sugrañes, president, Iberia Tiles Corporation and university trustee, agreed.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” she said. “In the 1980s, there were many jobs that women couldn’t have if they wanted to have children, too, such as with law firms or on Wall Street. Now we see that women are quite balanced: with marriages, children, and work.”

At thirty-four, college alumna Monique Hamaty-Simmonds (BBA ’96), president and CEO of Tortuga Imports, Inc., was among the youngest professionals to make the list, and her company was one of those in the $3 million range.

“I was honored to be in a position to be part of this group of dynamic women,” said Hamaty-Simmonds, who balances her career with a family life that includes two children and a third on the way.

She credits her husband, who manages the company’s finances, with helping her maintain balance in her life, and her father and grandfather with having inspired her to “never consider failure an option.”

Future research and database expansion are planned.

The research project, resulting in a report titled “Florida’s Women-Led Businesses, 2006,” includes a listing of the top women leaders who responded to the survey.

The next study will look at women leaders in non-profits and health care organizations. For this and other planned projects, the Center for Leadership will continue to enlarge its database, making it a significant repository of information to support future research on women in business.

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