President and founder of Quinn, a 50-person public relations firm in New York

Smith Major
American studies

Career Path
Quinn tried five jobs in her first seven years out of Smith before landing her dream job at a small, woman-owned travel public relations firm in New York, Jessica Dee Communications (later purchased by Chiat/Day). Mentored by the owner, Quinn remained there for seven years, working her way up to become vice president and a member of the executive committee. In 1987, she opened her own firm in a friend’s office in New York. Today, her lifestyle PR firm, which caters to travel, real estate and other companies, has offices in New York and Miami and an impressive client roster and branding/marketing track record.

How to grow a business  
“If you’re starting a business, get help as soon as you can afford it—an accountant, a business coach or a mentor who is already in the business. There’s nothing like speaking to someone who knows where you’re coming from. Don’t give up. You will hit rough spots due to changes in the economy or the industry you’re in or the growth of your firm. Ride the waves and adjust. And know that growth, while wonderful, comes with challenges and pain. In the beginning, my company was one big happy family, but when we got to be 10–12 people, cliques started forming and people wanted to know what the growth opportunities were, so we needed structure. I had no idea how to do that, so I hired a business coach. Two years ago, while pitching business in Miami, I knew we wouldn’t win it without an office there, so I opened one (and we won it). The key is to ride the waves, find good advisers and trust your gut.”

SAQ, Fall 2015