For Bobbie Goheen, helping others achieve their goals is her bread and butter.
Goheen is a leadership consultant who launched her own business, Synthesis Management Group, in 2000. Before setting out on her own, she spent 18 years working for Paychex Inc. While there, she started a training development program, and is proud to be the “first person to create a corporate university in the United States.”
Goheen started out in customer service at Paychex, and by the time she left she was the director of training. She says that when she began the training program at Paychex there were 200 people involved. When she left—just as she watched the company emerge into a powerhouse—she oversaw the training program as it grew to 6,000 people.
Goheen realized the great change and accomplishment that resulted from the leadership training and development. Akin to a “top down” approach, Goheen saw how Paychex benefited as a whole by training leaders.
“I think the great thing about working with Paychex was that they invested in me greatly. When I left, my intent was to say that I had so much fun doing leadership development that I wanted to do it on an international level,” says Goheen, “which is what I do now with Fortune 500 firms around the world.”
Synthesis Management Group offers executive coaching, leadership development, business strategy, team management and cultural development and integration. Goheen’s clients are far and wide, from local organizations like the University of Rochester and the Rochester City School District to national businesses such as Showtime and the American Red Cross.
With the rapid expansion of the internet and then the 2008 recession, Goheen noticed a decline in companies’ investments in leadership development.
“We have managers and leaders in the workforce who have gone through an organization with no training, and they’ve led mostly by what they personally think is the right thing to do,” she says.”
But what one leader thinks is the right thing to do may not be consistent with a company’s values. That is where Goheen steps in.
“Everything I do is tailored to my clients,” she says. “I don’t give a standard program. I adapt to the needs of the company that I’m working with in that moment, and I couldn’t do that without all of the background training and development that I learned from both Paychex and my own investment in myself the last 18 years.”
Goheen is a lifelong learner. She has studied at multiple institutions, including Irvine College in California and Wayne State University and Oakland University in Michigan. She has gone through countless rounds of professional development training over the years and is Myers-Briggs certified. Furthermore, she never officially received an undergraduate degree but possessed so many college credits that she was accepted into the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business MBA program.
Investing in herself and seeking ways to further her education and expand her expertise has helped Goheen remain current in the evolving industry. She notes that her extensive training is what separates her from thousands of other consultants.
“It seems that the investment that I put in myself in terms of ongoing training, development and all those kinds of things to keep my tools relevant has been a huge asset to my clients because I have access to the best and most modern methods to support their goals,” she says.
As a business owner for the last 18 years, Goheen is proud to have made it past the five-year mark that many small businesses fail to hit. Goheen says the secrets to keeping a business afloat are passion and following a strong, cohesive business plan. For new entrepreneurs, Goheen recommends starting off with a one-page business plan so as not to get immediately overwhelmed.
“To really make a business grow, you have to make a solid business plan that will take you to the next level,” she says. “The business plan will take you past the $1 million mark and put you in the next stratosphere. It’s not easy, but the passion is what gets you through, because if you don’t have that, you’re not going to make it.”
In addition to running Synthesis Management Group, Goheen also facilitates local roundtables for small to midsized businesses. There, leaders can gain insight on different management practices from other local leaders and share opportunities.
“I think for most executives, whether it’s a small or massive company, it can get lonely at the top,” says Goheen.
But with roundtables, executives are able to teach and learn from one another to better their organizations.
Goheen says that the most gratifying part of her work is making a difference and guiding her clients on a path to reach their goals.
“The biggest thing that I would want the Rochester community to know is that if someone is looking for an opportunity to grow to their next level of performance, whether it’s for themselves or their companies, that’s my sweet spot,” she says. “That’s where I excel.”
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Small Business is a biweekly feature focusing on entrepreneurs. Send suggestions for Small Business stories to Reporter/Editorial Assistant Nicole Sheldon at [email protected].i