Forty Under 40

Sarah Conner


Written By: Business Magazine

1. Name: Sarah Conner, CAM, CMCA, AMS
2. Birthdate: December 4, 1979
3. Where were you born? Gainesville, FL
4. What are your community activities? (church or faith-based involvement, local, regional and national professional organizations, non-profits, etc) I am a member of the Community Associations Institute (CAI) where I am currently running for a Board position. This is a national organization for our industry. Regionally, I am a member of the Suncoast chapter of CAI, where we get together for legal updates, and continuing education regularly. Locally, I am a member of Capital Gaines BNI group – a business to business networking and referral group and also a member of the Builder’s Association of North Central Florida. I travel to Sarasota regularly to volunteer my time to taking care of the needs of a family of 6 – clothing, feeding, and working with them to develop a budget to reach financial freedom. I am a strong advocate in the financial coaching concepts of Dave Ramsey. In this concept of allowing people to access their own potential for reaching personal financial goals, I have each of our employees read the Total Money Makeover book within their first 90 days. I help them create personal budgets, introduce them to retirement accounts, and goal setting. This year my firm will be supporting Toys for Tots, as well as a community food drive to help those less fortunate this time of year.
5. List any awards you have won for community service: I have not won any awards for community service, however, my firm was honored as a Best Company to Work For in 2013 by
Florida Trend. I am proud of my team at Management Specialists Services and of all we do to serve them. I firmly believe in helping my staff achieve their personal goals first, and caring for them, knowing that happier, well-rounded team members will more enjoy working with each other as well as serving our communities we manage.
6. What is your definition of success? I believe there are many definitions of success. However, Thomas Edison once said “If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.” I repeat this quote to myself often, and smile when I see a team member “astound” me. Being able to mentor my team, and watching them grow personally and professionally as a result, is my definition of success.
7. What is your greatest professional accomplishment? Professionally, my greatest accomplishment came this year, when my firm, Management Specialists Services was named by Florida Trend as one of the top 100 Best Companies to Work For in Florida. We are a small business and sometimes the going is tough. I know that we have the best team and offer the best service, but having it recognized by someone else is truly humbling.
8. How do you exemplify the spirit of a Forty Under 40 professional? I believe as a female entrepreneur under 40, building lasting relationships based on honesty and integrity are key to being a true professional. I pride myself on my honesty and integrity; you may not always like it, but you’ll always know where I stand.
9. Businessperson who has most inspired you: My biggest inspiration has been Dave Ramsey. His keys to success, revolving around the financial freedom of being debt free guide me in not only my personal life, but also professional. Our company is debt-free and proud of it! At our celebration for Best Company to Work For recently, my team contacted him and he personally recorded a message to my husband and I on the accomplishment as well as on following his principles. It was one of my proudest moments.
10.Best advice ever received: Someone once told me, “ What got you here today, will not take you where you want to go tomorrow.” Because of this, I continually strive to stay on the cutting edge, consistently challenging myself and my team to ensure we are the best we can be. Change is not always easy, but it is necessary in order to grow.
Managing the various personalities of clients on Boards that I work with in addition to an office staff is not easy. But there is tremendous satisfaction in watching a project come to fruition after the successful alignment of each person’s input, opinion, and suggestion.
12.First job: My first job was working for my parents, who owned and operated gas stations, auto shops, and car washes around town. I completed the financials and even got my hands dirty cleaning the grate under the car washes often. It’s a messy job! My first “real” job outside the
family businesses was at a bank in town. After working years for free, upon receiving my first paycheck, I thought I was set for life!
13.What color crayon would you be? Why? I’d be teal. It’s such a fun color and it reminds me of the ocean/beach, my favorite place to be.
14.Favorite after-work drink: A good glass of wine is my vice after a long day at the office. Someone introduced me to the pleasures of wine several years ago, and I rarely order anything else.
15.If I had a magic wand, I’d: do nothing. I believe that you have the power to do and achieve anything you want with hard work and perseverance, no magic required.
16.What is your favorite Gadget? Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not the most tech-savvy person. However, I have an iPad which I use daily for business, as well as a smartphone. I’d have to say that the Garmin Navigator on my phone has gotten me to where I am going more often than not, and I am grateful for the technology!
17.How long have you been in Gainesville? I have lived and worked in Gainesville my entire life.
18.What do you love most about Gainesville/Alachua County? I love the fact that Gainesville has such a thriving small business culture. The residents are kind to small businesses and entrepreneurs, and the community is conscious of keeping business local when possible. This mindset is a rarity in much of America today and I am proud of our Gainesville community for holding fast to traditional concepts.
19.Three things people would be surprised to know about you: I love to sail – my husband introduced me to the world on the water about 12 years ago, and we spent a year crewing on the eastern seaboard. I was ranked the number one percussionist in the state at one time. I’m a numbers geek – I completed my first corporate profit and loss statement at 15, because it was fun!
20.Advice you would give a younger you: Don’t do to everything you’re told. While most of the time people have good intentions, they aren’t always right. Listen to your gut.

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