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Nicole Smartt

Vice president and co-owner, Star Staffing

5550 Skylane Blvd., Ste. N, Santa Rosa 95403; 707-575-5005; starhr.com

Age: 29

Residence: Petaluma

Professional background: 13 years in the employment industry

Education: High school diploma

Staff: 39

Tell us about yourself and your company: I bring my drive, expertise and professionalism to Star Staffing as its co-owner and vice president. My commitment to providing long-term cost savings and productivity improvements for clients is an underlying goal as I manage the company’s day-to-day operations throughout the North Bay area. Having worked in the industry for more than nine years before joining Star Staffing as vice president in 2009, I gained valuable experience from the ground up.

This background fostered my firm understanding of what makes the ideal match between employee and employer, knowledge I leverage to benefit Star Staffing’s clients and employees. I have been featured in such publications as Forbes Women, Washington Post, AOL Jobs, Fox Business and American Express Business Forum.

Star Staffing is a local, women-owned, full-service staffing partner serving businesses and job seekers throughout Sonoma, Marin, Napa, Solano, and surrounding counties. Our goal? To make staffing, and finding a job, effortless for you

Words that best describe you: Driven, loyal, creative, efficient, motivated, resourceful, passionate, resilient.

What is a major accomplishment in the past year or so?: It’s always been my goal to see Star as a leading staffing firm, and we’ve done that. We have won awards for Best Places to Work and Best Job Placement Service, and we’ve experienced an 83 percent growth increase over our record-breaking year with no sales representative - all organically by word of mouth and marketing. That’s a huge testament that we are doing many things right!

What achievement are you most proud of in your career?: Becoming a business owner at age 25. I’ve always been one to write down my goals, and I was able to achieve my biggest goal without a college degree. I was also the youngest recipient of the Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 Award.

What is your biggest challenge today?: Growth Management. We’ve grown rapidly in the past three years, and scaling up presents its own set of challenges. We’re committed to providing personalized service locally, and also growing. We are constantly hiring, and we work hard to ensure each employee embraces the Star way. We offer a unique service, and we don’t want to let growth get in the way or hamper our quality of service.

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?: I see a continuing need to help maintain stability in our customers’ workforce on the one hand, and the desire for flexibility (in work hours, working remotely, and so on) by our employees on the other. We have seen that providing educational and growth opportunities to our employees helps maintain job satisfaction and improves retention, so we expect that trend to continue. I also see additional penetration into different and more wide-ranging industries as time goes on. No matter how you split it, the staffing industry is only going to continue to have phenomenal growth.

As a successful female professional, what have been the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?: I’ve always worked with and for strong women leaders that celebrated my successes, treated me as an equal, and empowered me to be the leader I wanted to be. I’m very lucky! I think my biggest obstacle is that because I started my career right out of high school, I have always been viewed as “young” - younger than most people, perhaps especially women, who were finding success in my industry.

What advice would you give to a young woman entering your profession or the work world today?: Stay strong! Go where your passion is, and let it fuel you. Discouragement is a part of the process, and if you aren’t being challenged at all, push yourself.

Current reading: Work Rules by Laszlo Bock

Stress-relievers: Writing, exercising, listening to great music, spending time with family, friends and my dogs.

Favorite hobbies: Reading, exercising, writing, watching and playing basketball, bowling, and shopping.