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Prestigious Inc. 5000 recognizes HCC Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program graduates

Oct 27, 2017

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Companies nationwide vie to earn a spot on the celebrated Inc. 5000 list. This year, 11 graduates of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at Houston Community College (HCC) each earned a coveted spot on the list. They, along with the other business owners will be recognized at the Inc. 5000 Conference and Gala in Palm Desert, California.

Business owners who make the list are identified by the publication as America's greatest and most inspiring entrepreneurs. They are considered to be the fastest-growing private firms in America that in their wake create companies, industry value and jobs.

Contributing to the success of the 11 graduate companies is the preparation they received as part of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. Through the program, participants gain practical skills in topics such as negotiation, marketing and employee management that can immediately be put into action.

“The graduates of our program truly focus on a vision for growth while also working on strengthening the foundation of their business. We are proud of the graduates who have been recognized in the Inc. 5000 list,” said Cathy Landry, executive director, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses at HCC.

These Houston-area business leaders spent 14 weeks, roughly 100 class hours, at HCC studying a business and management curriculum designed by Babson College and delivered by HCC faculty. In addition to its practical curriculum, the program includes one-on-one business advising, financial workshops and advice from Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses community partners.

All participation fees are funded through the Goldman Sachs Foundation. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis with the next deadline being Nov. 6, 2017. For more information and to apply visit: www.hccs.edu/10ksb.

The program graduates included in the Inc. 5000 list are as follows:

Ilyas Baig, President, Arthur Lawrence

With expertise in change management techniques, BPR, Channel and Distribution Management, Ilyas Baig has achieved organizational turnaround and revenue expansion for corporations in Middle East, North Africa, North America, and South Asia. In a career spanning over 30 years, he has implemented Six Sigma and other skills as a turnaround specialist to rescue sick units and accelerate their journey towards profitability and revenue growth. At Arthur Lawrence, he has developed IT distribution centers across South Asia for Fortune 500 clients. Ilyas is a Cohort 5 graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at HCC.

Zawadi Bryant, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, NightLight Pediatric Urgent Care

Zawadi Bryant as Chief Executive Officer for NightLight brings a wealth of business marketing and quality improvement experience. She is a graduate of Cornell University with a master’s degree in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering and an MBA in Operations Management. Bryant has been recognized by Black Engineer Magazine as one of the Top 30 Black Engineers under 30, and a recognized leader in business and process improvement. She is a 2012 graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at HCC.

Rayburn “Jake” Donaldson, Principal, Method Architecture

As one of four principals of Method Architecture, Jake Donaldson focuses on operating a firm that is unique in important ways – practicing ego-free architecture, creatively solving problems and providing unparalleled customer service. Under his leadership, the firm actively pursues new markets, technologies and sustainable design solutions for their projects. Donaldson has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Design from Texas A&M, a Masters of Architecture from the University of Houston and sits on both the AIA Houston board as well as the NAIOP Houston board. He completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at HCC in 2015.

Gregory Den Herder, Chief Executive Officer, Amber Green Corporation

Greg Den Herder is an experienced Chief Executive Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the hospitality industry. He manages all operations efforts for different brands and divisions which include Abby's Catering, the core business of Amber Green Corporation. Serving the greater Houston area for over 35 years, Abby's Catering provides catering to the private aviation and corporate industries. He also serves on the board of directors for the Greater Houston Restaurant Association and board member of the Texas Restaurant Association. He graduated from Babson's MBA program in 1997 and from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at HCC in 2014.

Michael Hoffman, Publisher, The Buzz Magazines

After a 20-year career in marketing and advertising, Michael Hoffman found himself between jobs. He began consulting for small businesses, including a law firm, a bank and a retail company. Eight months later, after becoming involved in a parks project with the city of Bellaire. In collaboration with his wife, they started a community magazine. The first issue of The Bellaire Buzz debuted in January 2002. The West University Buzz followed in 2005 and The Memorial Buzz and The Tanglewood/River Oaks Buzz in 2006. In 2015, Michael completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at HCC.

Michelle LeBlanc, Owner, Blue Sky Marketing

A marketing strategist, Michelle LeBlanc guides her client companies through the vast array of marketing tools and choices to craft winning sales and marketing strategies that achieve their business goals. LeBlanc has over 20 years of experience in marketing, both in business-to-business and business-to-consumer for industrial, technology, retail, and healthcare markets. She earned a degree in marketing from the University of New Orleans and MBA from Tulane. She graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at HCC in 2016. She has served in several capacities across multiple professional organizations including the Boards of American Marketing Association and the Houston Advertising Federation.

Srini Neralla, President/Chief Executive Officer, SIA Solutions

Dr. Srini Neralla is a highly accomplished environmental scientist with experience in environmental investigation and remediation programs. Neralla is experienced in overseeing all aspects of the projects and programs from client liaison, cost proposals, resource allocations, budgeting, schedule and cost control, technical planning and documentation, regulatory liaison, project implementation, technical direction, quality, health and safety, waste management, and reports. As a means of growing his business, Srini graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at HCC in 2016.

Andy Priesman, President, Greenway Insurance & Risk Management Agency, Inc.

Andy Priesman established Greenway Insurance & Risk Management Agency, Inc. in 2007. He started his career with the New York Life Insurance Company and then later went on to work with Farmers Insurance in early 2005. In 2008 after Hurricane Ike, Priesman decided to turn his agency into an independent insurance agency, specializing in personal and commercial lines of insurance. Priesman is a native Houstonian and grew up in Sugar Land, Texas, and he earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas. He is a 2015 graduate of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at HCC. 

Carrie Reese, President, Advanced Piping Products

Carrie Reese is president and co-owner of Advanced Piping Products located in Houston, Texas. At Advanced Piping Products, they manufacture, design, and sell piping products to the oil industry. Prior to leading Advanced Piping Products, Reese and her husband, Matt, lived in Boston and worked in the finance industry. To gain an understanding of how to better grow their business, she attended the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at HCC in 2013.

Emely Rodriguez, Chief Financial Officer, RNB Construction, Inc.

Emely Rodriguez is the Chief Financial Officer of RNB Construction, Inc. In her earlier role as an international accountant, she managed projects in multiple countries and handled all aspects of the business from taxes to joint interest billing and invoicing for projects up to $300 million. Later, she joined her family business and her experience gave her a lot of insight on processes and structure that she has incorporated at RNB Construction. She earned her bachelor of business administration in Accounting in 2010 and a master’s degree in Accountancy in 2013 from the University of Houston. She graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at HCC in 2017.

Irsan Tisnabudi, President and Owner, Aria Services

Irsan Tisnabudi’s experience in the wireless telecommunication industry began in 1997. He specializes in antenna upgrade, architectural engineering and pre-construction processes. He volunteers during his spare time with local organizations such as University of Houston-College of Technology, University of Houston Asian Alumni Association, Asian Pacific American Association, Texas Dragon Boat Association and was the president of Indonesian American Chamber of Commerce, Texas for 2014-2016. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and a minor in Computer Aided Design. Tisnabudi graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at HCC in 2015.


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