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Sarasota Thursday, Jun. 17, 2010 7 years ago

Sarasota Small Business of the Year Awards: Elise Lipoff

by: Loren Mayo Black Tie Editor

Elise Lipoff has coined the past year as “The Year of Elise.”

The overachiever started the year off serving her third consecutive term on the Young Professionals Group board as communications chairwoman. She was elected to the vice president of finance seat on the Central West Coast Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association Board and accepted into the 2009-2010 Class of Leadership Sarasota, while also working full-time for Willis A. Smith Construction Inc. She also designed ads and wrote press releases for The Shamrock Pub and BEKS Entertainment Group and assisted her father, Barry, with his new company, Crown International Yacht Sales. In addition, she was working on marketing material for the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Foundation’s “Scarf It Up For Women’s Cancers” event and taking evening classes for the second half of her MBA program at Webster University.

Lipoff managed to keep her world in check via Blackberry and Outlook calendar, until severe stomach pain resulted in the removal of her gallbladder.

“I wasn’t fearing surgery, but I did panic that I would not be able to complete this semester of school, when I only had two semesters left,” Lipoff said.

With the “Scarf It Up” event only three days away, Lipoff sat in the emergency room with her folio and notepad and sketched the layout for the necessary elements. From her hospital bed, she completed the designs, despite an enormous amount of pain.

“My biggest accomplishment was completing grad school and knowing that I finally achieved that goal,” Lipoff said. “I pushed it off for as long as I could, until I realized I couldn’t get to the next level in my career. Knowing I got through it with the removal of an organ — it’s a great feeling.”

Lipoff graduated from Webster University with her MBA June 5. Within the last year, she has donated 450 hours and raised $13,000 for non-profit organizations and spearheaded the first Sarasota Chili Cook-off, which drew 3,500 people.

“I have an amazing boyfriend (now fiancé), family and probably the best boss of all time, and I work for the best company,” Lipoff said “I couldn’t do it without the role models at my company, and for someone who is young and still learning, I couldn’t ask for anything better than that.”


Profession: Public relations specialist
Age: 28
Biggest obstacle: “Overcoming the idea that the world owed me something. As soon as I had dissolved expectations, bigger and better opportunities began coming my way. And once I had proven myself through hard work and diligence, my career finally started to take shape.”
Advice to young professionals: “I would advise my fellow young professionals to practice the art of patience. While we see the corner office and want it right now, we must earn it. Commitment to your career, company and profession are the keys to the kingdom. Just be patient, they will be handed to you when the time is right. And if you try and fail, then get back up and stay at it.”
Where do you see yourself in five years? “I see myself being the first female executive at Willis A. Smith Construction Inc., even more involved in our community and sitting on the board for several organizations. And, hopefully, I will have made a substantial dent in those student-loan bills from graduate school.”


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