It would be an understatement to say that Juli Monroe, 20 months on the job, was shocked when she found out she is George Mason University’s September Employee of the Month.
“It was announced at our board meeting,” she said. “I had no idea it was coming. And people will tell you, it’s the first time they’ve ever seen me speechless.”
Monroe, director of the Women’s Business Center, a program of the Community Business Partnership of the Mason Enterprise Center, coaches clients in ways to start and grow their business through effective networking and word-of-mouth marketing.
It is a job that requires listening skills as honed as entrepreneurial skills, and the 10 years Monroe spent as a trained business coach and as a volunteer at the Community Business Partnership gave her both.
As Mark Scarano, executive director of the Community Business Partnership, noted, “Juli’s attentiveness of clients, many of whom range from novice entrepreneurs to experienced business owners, is thoughtful and one of advocacy.”
“The key component is to really listen and understand what they need,” said Monroe, who has begun pursuing a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies at Mason with a concentration in social entrepreneurship.
“The greatest sense of satisfaction is when a lightbulb goes off over someone’s head and they get it,” she said. “They know they can start their business or take their business to the next level. It’s watching their eyes light up. They might come in saying, ‘I can’t.’ They walk out and say, ‘I can.’”
How she got here: I had been a volunteer at Community Business Partnership for almost a decade. When the job was posted, it was just natural to apply. I felt like I was already part of the family.
Best day on the job: You mean other than the day I heard I was going to be September Employee of the Month? Well, okay. In that case, it would be any day where I can see that my counseling or training makes a difference. One in particular was the day a client emailed to tell me one of her Instagram posts was going viral. I might have been happier than she was.
What she likes best about working at Mason: Two things. One is the diversity of the university and Mason's dedication to that goal. It is so much a part of our policies that it's not just lip service. The second is Mason’s commitment to life/work balance. I love that Mason talks about it that way. Again, it's so much a part of the policies that you know the university lives and breathes it.
What she likes doing when not working: I'm a writer. I publish an urban fantasy series about a vampire and a warlock who fight supernatural baddies in the D.C. area. One of my books even has a Mason professor as a main character. My husband and I also enjoy camping and hiking.