Victoria Parham knows firsthand how tough it is to be a soldier's wife. Her husband, Andre, served in the Army until last year. When he was deployed to South Korea in 1995, Parham was forced to move in with her mother and to sell her small resume-writing business. When she later started another company, Virtual Support Services, she designed it to be portable. If Andre received another distant commission, she would go with him. So would VSS, which provides administrative support to businesses through a network of independent contractors.
The test came in 2000, when Andre was assigned to Anchorage, Alaska. On the cross-country drive, Victoria ran VSS from the back seat of the family SUV, juggling a cell phone, laptop, and portable printer. Over 22 days, 5 hours, and 30 minutes of travel, VSS never faltered. Today VSS's revenue is in the six figures.
Once Parham, now 36, settled in Alaska, she began volunteering as a mentor at the Service Corps of Retired Executives. She parlayed that into a gig with the Navy, teaching military spouses, by Web seminar, how to design businesses that can move with them from base to base. She has taught 400 people so far. For the armed services, says Ed Roscoe, a program manager for the Navy, "our return on investment is keeping highly qualified soldiers on active duty by stabilizing families." And that's just what Parham is doing.
Patrick J. Sauer