Lynne Williams was passionate about the career transition and career management business long before managing the Philadelphia Area Great Careers Group (PAGCG). Her story and her life experiences from as far back as 1989 have shaped the business leader she is today. Lynne brought her skills in finance, human resources administration, office management, writing, and classroom teaching. Her industry exposure is diverse, including family-owned and publicly traded companies, mental health, construction management, K-12 education and real estate from California to Pennsylvania.
Lynne has been running her side business to assist her clients with individual career support and writing services, operating as Around the Clock Executive Helper since 1994. Currently, Lynne is working on her doctoral dissertation to become an Ed.D. She professes her passion for helping people, believes that knowledge is power and is a self-proclaimed lifelong learner. Clients and colleagues recognize Lynne as an expert problem solver, opportunity seeker, and avid networker.
By 2015, Lynne was actively volunteering with a career support and networking Meetup group in the Greater Philadelphia area along with SCORE Chester and Delaware Counties. On a hiatus from teaching, she was in between jobs for almost a year. The two career coaches who had started Meetup in 2010 approached Lynne when they were ready to step aside. She recalls what they offered her with great pride, “You are the best person to take over this organization!”
The Path to Success
Right from the start, Lynne was committed to organizing as a nonprofit. She was building a volunteer team and a vision that everyone should have the opportunity to get a job he or she loves and earn a good income. However, Lynne had no prior experience with setting up nonprofits. Her exceptional networking skills connected her with SCORE in 2015 and a career counselor at Immaculata University in 2016. With coaching provided by the Master's degree class at Immaculata University, Lynne received the guidance she needed to catapult her dream. Philadelphia Area Great Careers Group was successfully established as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in Chester County in April 2017. The first Board meeting was held in June 2017.
This business model would enable a volunteer-based educational platform to provide support for career transition and career management in the Tri-State area. Participants engage in Career Success Groups, purposefully structured networking, and in-person or virtual workshops to ready themselves to find a job, advance in or manage their career, or make the decision to pivot into entrepreneurship.
PAGCG currently supports almost 6,300 members and alumni and hosts nearly 1,000 educational events per year. Programs are available nationally with four locations in Chester County: Phoenixville, Malvern, Exton, and West Chester, as well as online. Before the pandemic crisis, workshop attendees would drive across county lines to participate in invaluable training and networking opportunities. In 2020, the team celebrates its 10th anniversary, having more than doubled its Meetup membership in the last five years.
Lynne began working with SCORE in 2013 after meeting Jerry Francis, SCORE Community Engagement Volunteer, at an event at Cabrini College in Radnor, Pennsylvania. She was so impressed with the SCORE mission and vision, providing insights and ideas for her own business. In her role as a SCORE volunteer on the Speakers Bureau, she started sharing her knowledge and skills with small business owners on LinkedIn. Lynne continues to present these classes for SCORE annually, in addition to new seminars on networking and branding.
To learn more about setting up a nonprofit, Lynne reached out to SCORE for mentoring. Randy Hove, a retired attorney and SCORE mentor, met Lynne and two of her team members in 2015 to explain how to establish and operate a nonprofit business. Randy introduced them to new resources that helped the group move forward.
By 2019 the business was looking for advice on growth and expansion. Lynne began working with SCORE Mentor, Frank Millheim. Frank offered valuable insight and feedback that was objective and valid. With Frank’s advice and counsel, Lynne and her dedicated volunteer team implemented website upgrades, new marketing concepts and a customer relationship management system. Additional monetized growth programs were initiated, such as the Job Search Accelerator workshops and the Bronze membership. Lynne appreciated Frank’s coaching, as she says, to "stay in my lane." Her goal is to serve working adults, develop valuable educational programming, and stay hyper-focused on professional services for career transition and career management.
Lynne’s business is supporting members and visitors online every single day, not only in Chester and Delaware Counties but across the US. New career education offerings have been added to help job seekers in transition with their resumes, LinkedIn profiles, interviews, networking and ‘elevator’ pitches. Programs are funded exclusively by donations from workshops and webinar attendees, local benefactors and sponsors, as well as from the affordable membership fees.
SCORE is Lynne’s valuable partner and her trusted mentor with outside eyes to provide objective views and actionable ideas for business growth. Affiliations, connections, and collaborations are important to PAGCG. These relationships enable multiple organizations to engage in “cross-platform marketing” and serve more communities…together.
Paying It Forward
Philadelphia Area Great Careers Group continues to evolve. The team is building new systems, generating ideas, and developing strategies all the time. In April 2019, the organization merged with a local Philadelphia network creating a new chapter, the Nonprofit Career Network (NCN) to deliver more resources to area nonprofits. Most recently, PAGCG made the next big move in May 2020 forming a combined national organization with the Business Executives Network Group (BENG) to serve the growing number of individuals facing job interruptions and career transitions impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Clearly, the team is confident about future growth.
Lynne says it best: “I am very proud of our amazing organization. We have volunteers with such good hearts who pay it forward. We want everyone to find a job they love, earn a good income, advance in their career, and engage in career management while building relationships. You have to love what you do, and have that fire inside you that gets you up every morning to do what you do!”