Susan Beck

One from the Heart


A successful businesswoman was once a rarity.
Phrases like "the glass ceiling" were common and it was
expected that one might have to sacrifice femininity to make
it in a man's world. The woman on the team was usually the
secretary who was expected to make and serve the coffee.
That is no longer the case in most businesses and Susan Beck
is an example. She has not only had a very successful business
career, but is now in the process of giving back to others the
many skills she learned as a part of her portfolio.

Pink: My first question is always about how you came to the Lowcountry. Please tell me your story.
Susan: I guess we came the usual way-via timeshare. My husband's boss had a timeshare in Palmetto Dunes and shared it with us. When I retired in 2005, we spent one freezing winter in Massachusetts and decided that snow and ice were no longer for us. Immediately we thought of sunny, beautiful Hilton Head Island!

You had a long and fascinating career with Talbot's. Tell us about some
of your responsibilities.
S: I worked for Talbot's for 18 years. When I started with the company in
Hingham, MA there were 125 stores and a small catalog business. When I
retired in 2005, there were more than 1,000 stores in addition to a huge catalog business and Internet presence. I worked in Human Resources and was Director of Organization Development, Training, and Communications. I was responsible for insuring that every job in the company had the right skill level to match the goals of each department. It was fun trying to determine what would work in each department and how to develop job skills that would be successful. I was also responsible for training and I am very proud of being the one who developed Talbot's University, which offers 44 different training programs to everyone in the company, and lastly, I was in charge of communications. So, I got to write speeches for the CEO and put on some VERY large events for the company.

P: How did you prepare for a career in business?
S: I didn't. I graduated from college and went to California where I herded sheep on a motorcycle! I moved to Massachusetts with $25 in my pocket and took the first job I was offered-retail sales. While I worked, I completed my Master's Degree and studied organizational development.

P: Did you ever find it difficult being a woman in business?
S: Yes, when I started in retail I found it very hard to get promoted, as there were no females in top management positions, and no female mentors either. I was lucky though. Along the way, I found a male mentor who taught me many of the skills needed for anyone, man or woman, to advance. I feel very strongly about giving back those learning points to younger women.

P: Did you find it difficult to adjust to retirement after having such a fastpaced, high-pressure job?
S: I do not sit still and have lots of energy so I did struggle when we first moved here to develop friendships and find a niche for myself. Now, four years later, I am thrilled to be retired.

P: Talk about what you do with SCORE.
S: SCORE is dedicated to entrepreneur education and the formation, growth and success of small business. We offer free, confidential business counseling, mentoring, and training workshops to small business owners. It is a non-profit volunteer association of business professionals sponsored by the Small Business Administration. There are about 40 counselors in the Lowcountry and more than 10,000 nationwide. We help with retailing, accounting, advertising, administration, banking, computers, construction, distribution, health care, manufacturing, and much more. Working with SCORE allows me to give back to the community my expertise. It is also fun and challenging to meet with new entrepreneurs and help them to be successful. I have really enjoyed it!

P: Do you have any words of wisdom or core values to share?
S: Yes. I believe that you should take responsibility for your own well-being and bring energy to everything you do. Stay strong and healthy!