Video Transcript

00:09 Allison Fass:  Thank you all so much for joining us today.  I am extremely enthusiastic about this panel because you offer such a wide array of perspectives.  Selena runs a seven-person company, a wine distributor or a producer actually and Sharon Verzmoser (phonetic) runs a 1,500-person federal contracting company and Katie Morgan heads up human resources for more than 100,000 employees at Bank of America.  So it's really a wide array of perspectives that we'll be able to bring to the table. My first question for all of you to start is just to introduce yourself, tell a little bit about who you are personally and your company so that we have some context into your answers about hiring.  Selena, why don't you start?  

00:50 Selena Cuffe:  Sure.  So my name is Selena Cuffe.  I had a crazy idea in 2005 to get married and start a business and then get pregnant.  The only thing that was planned was the marriage--actually, no, the baby was planed, too.  But really, the impetus for starting Heritage Link Brands came serendipitously from a business trip unrelated to wine to South Africa where I happened to as a consumer go to a wine festival and I fell in love with this amazing rosé.  And the producer that was there was a very lovely lady who I inquired to about where could I find this wine in the States?  And she chuckled, but very seriously responded and said I can't get distribution in South Africa, let alone in the US market.  And that's when I learned that South Africa had a wine industry that dated back to the mid 1600s that employed 200,000 people and exported roughly about $3 billion a year, but less than 2% was owned by black South Africans, even though there were 90% of the population.  And it was one of the last industries so to speak in South Africa to really see democracy.  And in a former life, I used to work for Proctor & Gamble marketing Pringles potato chips and Tampax.  And I thought well, wine is a much more fun product to market.  And so after leaving this festival very buzzed, I called my husband, who was still in business school at the time, and I said hey, what do you think about this idea?  I think we should do this.  This is like our big thing.  We can help transform the world and a nation through the medium of wine.  And his response was yeah, yeah, just hurry up and get home.  

02:37 Cuffe: And so at the time we were actually living on the Harvard Business School campus, which was where he was a student and where I had recently graduated from.  But we really leveraged the resources there to do the due diligence to decide yes, this is a viable business opportunity, let's go for it.  But at the same time, we-;neither one of us had any experience as entrepreneurs or within the wine space.  And so we didn't feel comfortable going to investors to say hey, can you give us some cash so that we can do this opportunity, so we literally now eight years later with two children and one on the way, we literally built this business with our fingernails, scratching and clawing to now not only import into 40 states and we sell to customers like Wal-Mart, Target, and Whole Foods, but we also export to China, Nigeria, and as equity owners in one of the vineyards also sell into South Africa.  So that's Heritage.  

03:35 Sharon Virst-Mozer:  Interesting.  I'm Sharon Virst-Mozer.  I started my company when I was 29 back in 1991, so you guys can do the math on that to see how old and how long I've been doing this.  My story is quite different in that I started one business and am now running a completely different one.  We started the company, I started the company basically in my basement with two little boys and as a single mom at the time, decided that too ornery to work for anyone else and I had to work for myself.  And I started this consulting practice where we helped information technology companies win contracts with the federal government.  And it went well.  We grew.  We moved into big offices in Tysons Corner, Virginia, had a really nice run of it for a long while.  But in 2001, the mergers and acquisitions in a lot of the big IT companies reduced our market from 40 clients to 18 overnight.  And it took me a while to realize that my baby was ugly in terms of my business was dying.  And I think Tony Robbins said it best, if you're not growing, you're dying.  And we were not growing.  

04:41 Virst-Mozer: So I made the decision in 2004 to close the doors, to move back to the basement again and reinvent the company, not focused on something that was not a growing market for us, but pick something that we could do based on the experience that we had and based on the market that we were in.  And that was to support the back office processing of federal agencies that provide benefits or credentials or certifications to constituents.  In 2007, we actually moved to an office again, yay.  We have 45 employees, $1.8 million in revenue.  Today we're over 1,500 full-time employees of our own and we have another 650 subcontractors we manage.  We will be over 2,000 employees by the end of this year. So that's kind of our story.  And it's been a great ride, so.  

05:33 Katie Morgan:  That's fantastic.  I'm Katie Morgan with Bank of America Merrill Lynch.  I am very honored and privileged to be among all of you.  After my (inaudible) looking at my career, well over 22 years with Bank of America.  I am examining my meeting schedule and my analysis after listening to Essie (phonetic) where I'm spending my time for sure.  I have grown up in the ranks of Bank of America.  About half of my career, I'm an account, spent in risk management, those kinds of areas, and then the other half all in human resources.  Moving around a fair amount, I've lived in this city as well for a couple of years and really running every human resources function we have from staffing to learning, compensation, leadership development, kind of the entire employee life cycle if you will.  And today reside in Charlotte.  I run human resources for Consumer Banking, so think of our banking centers, contact centers, small business banking, business banking, as well as wealth management, which includes Merrill Lynch, US Trust, and Merrill Edge.  And I have a couple kids and a husband.  Thank you. 

Presenter:  Thank you all so much for joining us today.  I am extremely enthusiastic about this panel because you offer such a wide array of perspectives.  Selena runs a seven-person company, a wine distributor or a producer actually and Sharon Verzmoser (phonetic) runs a 1,500-person federal contracting company and Katie Morgan heads up human resources for more than 100,000 employees at Bank of America.  So it's really a wide array of perspectives that we'll be able to bring to the table.  
    My first question for all of you to start is just to introduce yourself, tell a little bit about who you are personally and your company so that we have some context into your answers about hiring.  Selena, why don't you start?  

Selena Cuffe:  Sure.  So my name is Selena Cuffe.  I had a crazy idea in 2005 to get married and start a business and then get pregnant.  The only thing that was planned was the marriage-;actually, no, the baby was planed, too.  But really, the impetus for starting Heritage Link Brands came serendipitously from a business trip unrelated to wine to South Africa where I happened to as a consumer go to a wine festival and I fell in love with this amazing rosé.  And the producer that was there was a very lovely lady who I inquired to about where could I find this wine in the States?  And she chuckled, but very seriously responded and said I can't get distribution in South Africa, let alone in the US market.  And that's when I learned that South Africa had a wine industry that dated back to the mid 1600s that employed 200,000 people and exported roughly about $3 billion a year, but less than 2% was owned by black South Africans, even though there were 90% of the population.  And it was one of the last industries so to speak in South Africa to really see democracy.  And in a former life, I used to work for Proctor & Gamble marketing Pringles potato chips and Tampax.  And I thought well, wine is a much more fun product to market.  And so after leaving this festival very buzzed, I called my husband, who was still in business school at the time, and I said hey, what do you think about this idea?  I think we should do this.  This is like our big thing.  We can help transform the world and a nation through the medium of wine.  And his response was yeah, yeah, just hurry up and get home.  
    And so at the time we were actually living on the Harvard Business School campus, which was where he was a student and where I had recently graduated from.  But we really leveraged the resources there to do the due diligence to decide yes, this is a viable business opportunity, let's go for it.  But at the same time, we-;neither one of us had any experience as entrepreneurs or within the wine space.  And so we didn't feel comfortable going to investors to say hey, can you give us some cash so that we can do this opportunity, so we literally now eight years later with two children and one on the way, we literally built this business with our fingernails, scratching and clawing to now not only import into 40 states and we sell to customers like Wal-Mart, Target, and Whole Foods, but we also export to China, Nigeria, and as equity owners in one of the vineyards also sell into South Africa.  
    So that's Heritage.  

Sharon Verzmoser:  Interesting.  I'm Sharon Verzmoser.  I started my company when I was 29 back in 1991, so you guys can do the math on that to see how old and how long I've been doing this.  My story is quite different in that I started one business and am now running a completely different one.  We started the company, I started the company basically in my basement with two little boys and as a single mom at the time, decided that too ornery to work for anyone else and I had to work for myself.  And I started this consulting practice where we helped information technology companies win contracts with the federal government.  And it went well.  We grew.  We moved into big offices in Tysons Corner, Virginia, had a really nice run of it for a long while.  But in 2001, the mergers and acquisitions in a lot of the big IT companies reduced our market from 40 clients to 18 overnight.  And it took me a while to realize that my baby was ugly in terms of my business was dying.  And I think Tony Robbins said it best, if you're not growing, you're dying.  And we were not growing.  
    So I made the decision in 2004 to close the doors, to move back to the basement again and reinvent the company, not focused on something that was not a growing market for us, but pick something that we could do based on the experience that we had and based on the market that we were in.  And that was to support the back office processing of federal agencies that provide benefits or credentials or certifications to constituents.  In 2007, we actually moved to an office again, yay.  We have 45 employees, $1.8 million in revenue.  Today we're over 1,500 full-time employees of our own and we have another 650 subcontractors we manage.  We will be over 2,000 employees by the end of this year.  
    So that's kind of our story.  And it's been a great ride, so.  

Katie Morgan:  That's fantastic.  I'm Katie Morgan with Bank of America Merrill Lynch.  I am very honored and privileged to be among all of you.  After my (inaudible) looking at my career, well over 22 years with Bank of America.  I am examining my meeting schedule and my analysis after listening to Essie (phonetic) where I'm spending my time for sure.  I have grown up in the ranks of Bank of America.  About half of my career, I'm an account, spent in risk management, those kinds of areas, and then the other half all in human resources.  Moving around a fair amount, I've lived in this city as well for a couple of years and really running every human resources function we have from staffing to learning, compensation, leadership development, kind of the entire employee life cycle if you will.  And today reside in Charlotte.  I run human resources for Consumer Banking, so think of our banking centers, contact centers, small business banking, business banking, as well as wealth management, which includes Merrill Lynch, US Trust, and Merrill Edge.  And I have a couple kids and a husband.  Thank you.