Plant City's Karen Gillman and Tampa's Intelligent Office Both Nominated for Small Business Leadership Awards
Gillman works for the Intelligent Office® franchise in Tampa, and both she and the company received nominations for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce annual awards. Gillman is a small-town girl whose life has unfolded in a series of successful benchmarks that led her to her leadership role today.
And, the family business she helps manage, the Intelligent Office®, located at 3111 Dr. W. Martin Luther King Blvd. Suite 100, in Tampa, was also nominated for the Greater Tampa Chamber’s “Small Business of the Year Award.”
“We are very honored to be nominated,” said Gillman, whose primary responsibility at Intelligent Office® focuses on sales and client services. “Like any small business, we’ve faced many uphill battles over the years, and we are grateful to be recognized in this way. Our entire team is thrilled!” she said.
Veronica Wages, an account manager at Alternative Capital in Tampa, submitted both nominations to the chamber. “Karen Gillman is one of the most professional and diligent people I have had the pleasure to work with,” Wages said. “She not only exhibits this in her role with Intelligent Office, but through the various charitable organizations to which she belongs. Nominating her was a no-brainer because she is the epitome of what the Tampa Chamber is looking to recognize with these prestigious awards.”
Small Town Girl with Big Time Accomplishments
Although she didn’t realize it, Gillman’s training as an exemplary leader began in her teenage years upon high school graduation. Summoning her inner courage, she decided to move away from her Jerome, Idaho family farm, where she grew up picking strawberries, feeding baby cows and gathering eggs, to accept a live-in nanny position for a two-year-old boy in Boston.
“I had $75 saved up from working at the local drive-in restaurant, which I hid in a small tin behind my mom’s washing machine. After high school, my friends were all getting married and starting families and I knew I needed to do something,” Gillman said.
“I looked into joining the Air Force, travel jobs … and then I saw an ad in the paper for the nanny position. My mom said, ‘Oh, you’ll never do something like that!’ and at that age, that was all I needed to hear to set the wheels in motion. Off to Boston I went,” she said, “with $75 stashed in an emergency tin at home just in case I needed a way to get back… that was my big plan!”
The small town girl’s “big plan” plan paid off, and Gillman spent 11 years working for the Boston family while simultaneously earning her B.A. in Psychology from Framingham State College.
Eventually, Karen returned to the Midwest where she worked as an executive secretary for a large church and for Supra, a General Electric company best known for the production of realtor lockboxes.
During this time, Gillman met her husband, Mark through a business friend. “She didn’t really know Mark, but she knew of his personality and demeanor from leading worship at her church, and felt certain we were a match, so she set us up – on Valentine’s Day of all days!,” she said. The couple immediately fell in love and got married the following Valentine’s Day nine years ago.
Karen and Mark moved from Salem, Oregon to Tampa five years ago to settle closer to his family. Coincidentally, Mark’s father, Leo Gillman, owner of the Intelligent Office® Tampa franchise, needed help at the office and asked Karen to start work there immediately after their move.
As it turned out, it was yet another fortunate turning point in Karen Gillman’s seemingly blessed life. Today, both she and her husband manage six employees and all Intelligent Office® operations – an arrangement that perfectly suits the couple, who each spend about 80 percent of their work week in the office.
When asked about her leadership style, she said, “We like to lead by example. Our motto at Intelligent Office is that you can ‘work anywhere, professionally,’ which is what we strive to do.”
“Partnering with Intelligent Office affords small businesses the luxuries of a large office with small overhead,” Gillman explained. “Once you are a member of Intelligent Office your business image is immediately elevated to the next level of professionalism.”
Quality Time and Quality Life in Tampa Bay
Today, Karen supports her Plant City community in a variety of ways, and is also very involved at her church and an assortment of professional groups in Tampa, including the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce and the local Profit Pros chapter of BNI.
“I believe in face-to-face marketing – really getting to know people and understanding what their business needs are all about,” Gillman said, explaining that this is one of her most effective growth strategies for Intelligent Office. “Today, everyone wants instant gratification. We live in a world surrounded by fast food, overnight mail, e-mail and instant messaging. In business, it takes time to sow enough good seed to reap a fruitful crop.”
Gillman volunteers her time as an ambassador for HARC – Hillsborough Achievement and Resource Centers – and supports their fall fashion show and other fund-raising efforts, and she also runs her own networking group, Charity Chics, with business colleague Lisa Ford, owner of Invent Your Image.
Gillman serves as a national spokeswoman for Johnson and Johnson in support of their gastric banding product, the Lap-Band®, a tool that has given her an amazing weight-loss success story to share.
Through Intelligent Office®, she is currently collaborating with a handful of local small businesses to launch a short-term philanthropic program called JumpStart.
For more information on Intelligent Office, visit www.intelligentoffice.com or call the Tampa office at 813-350-7800.
About Intelligent Office
Intelligent Office® is the national leader in virtual office solutions, shared serviced office space, and receptionist services. Intelligent Office® offers professional, temporary and virtual office space with all the amenities of a real office, and memberships include address services, remote receptionists, phone numbers, ala cart business services and nation-wide meeting spaces. All services are customizable to fit varied business needs, offering a smart, affordable and easy way to work from home, another office, or on the road. As part of the national franchise, the Tampa location currently serves over 250 business professionals.