On a chilly November evening, ten influential women were inducted into the hall of fame. Hearing their inspirational stories of becoming business leaders, Western Michigan University alumna Jeri Meola was called to the stage, recognized as one of the ten Minnesota Women Business Owners Hall of Fame.
The program, led by the Minnesota Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners, honors Minnesota’s most successful female entrepreneurs and advocates who have made significant and enduring contributions to impact women’s entrepreneurial development in Minnesota.
“This year’s honorees reflect the celebration of blending of the past, present and future women business owners," says Mary Nutting, president of NAWBO-MN. "In addition to the trailblazing women who are acknowledged for their significant roles in Minnesota history, we are honoring women business owners who have arrived and whose ongoing contributions are continuing to inspire others to blaze their own trails."
Meola is an expert in the marketing research industry. For 25 years, she was president of SMS Research Advisors, mastering the voice of consumer insights. Every day, as an expert, she gathers the whats, hows and whys of the consumer to guide Fortune 500 companies with their decisions. After selling her business to Padilla, she started her next venture, forming EGL ACE Research. The company focuses on helping companies with analysis of the market and customer experience.
Her work crosses into her passion for the community, holding leadership positions at charitable organizations including the United Way, WomenVenture, Performance Excellence Network, NAWBO, Women President’s Organization, Heart Association, Sales and Marketing Executive International, and St. David’s Center for Family and Child Development.
Meola is nationally recognized within the market research industry as a member of Sterling Who’s Who and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the NAWBO. Meola holds a B.A. in psychology from Edinboro University and an M.A. from WMU’s Department of Psychology, with an emphasis in industrial organizational psychology. WMU's program was recently ranked 18th in the nation as a top psychology master's program.
"We are very proud of our alumni and the incredible leaders so many of them have become," says Dr. Stephanie Peters, professor and chair of the psychology department. "Our industrial organizational behavior management program has produced many great leaders."