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Leveraging Your Corporate Career to Build a Successful Business

from corporate to entrepreneurship

It’s tough to work a full time job while building a business. I know because I’ve done it. I got to a point where I had to choose one or the other.

However, working a corporate job has added significantly to my skill set and has allowed me to make better decisions around what’s now my full time business. 

Through my 9 to 5 jobs in media, I held business development and strategy roles, which allowed me to learn negotiation, how to work with partners, how to build long-term relationships and how to think about my business with a long-term perspective. The experience I developed is invaluable. 

This week I spoke with Emily McMonagle and Chary Sathea, founders of thecnnekt, a platform that offers community, conversations and culture, and I learned they have a similar mindset and approach to their corporate experience.

We talked about their backgrounds, the business they’re building and how holding a corporate job was the springboard to the work they’re doing today.

Meet Emily and Chary.

Work Bigger: Give us some background. Where are you from, and where did you start out?

Emily: I grew up in Philadelphia and went to school for fashion, which caused me to move to NYC. I love it, and still do but have always craved MORE. Chary felt the same way and that was were thecnnekt was born.

Chary: I was born and raised in Southern California. Now I live in Bedstuy, Brooklyn. My background is in communications, with an emphasis in Public Relations. To be honest, when I started my career I was all over the place. I feel like Drake’s lyrics really capture my career trajectory in short: started from the bottom, now we’re here.

My first full-time job was a receptionist at a reputable denim brand. Then I started my first “big girl job” in the city.

I did business development at a fashion and tech agency. This actually became the building block of my career because it taught me how to copyright, pitch, identify which partnerships make sense, and how to build a deck.

These key learnings gave me the leverage to move around from start ups to marketing agencies, and moving in-house with brands.

Now for a living, I oversee digital and social media at a charity organization. The skills I’ve developed overtime become critical when we launched thecnnekt.

Work Bigger: What is your mission, the work you want to do?

Emily: We represent her, him and them. Our mission is to cnnekt all of us through inspirational stories we share both online and offline to build an educated and cultured community.

Chary: To echo Emily’s words, we have so many great things in the works for 2019, and we’re excited to roll out the meaning elements of thecnnekt: community, conversations, and culture. These are the things I am personally looking forward to and cannot wait to do!

Work Bigger: What led you there? Can you recall any experiences you had that pushed you to your mission?

Emily: We are all transplants in NYC and struggle to make friends as adults. Chary and I met online through a similar website as thecnnekt. When that site shut down, we knew we had to take over the space so others can experience similar connections.

Also, we originally started as a women’s focused group, but with today’s political climate, we felt it was important to expand to him and them. We want to represent all voices and this election pushed us there.

Chary: I studied media in school and have been an avid reader of many publications, but mainstream media doesn’t cover many of the voices that we want to hear from.

We felt there was a gap, and the solution is creating a platform to showcase voices that are clearly underrepresented.

Work Bigger: What challenges did you face along the way, and how did you overcome these challenges?

Emily: Similar groups have popped up and exceeded expectations due to celebrity friends, high Instagram followings, etc.

But we overcome this by staying true to who we are and to our mission. Those who are using this movement as a trend will fade. Those passionate about this lifelong mission will remain and eventually shine.

Chary: Emily said it. We have remained close to our mission and our organization’s DNA, which includes inclusivity and diversity. We care for authentic relationships and push forth a meaningful community.

Work Bigger: What advice do you have for others who want to make an impact through their work but are currently feeling stuck?

Emily: Just do it. Don’t wait until your idea is “perfect.” First, it will never be perfect, and you’ll always spend your days constantly evolving it. Second, you’ll evolve it by actually doing it and learning along the way.

Chary: For those who don’t know where to start, I always say discover what you’re passionate about. Then everything else will follow, and to emphasize what Emily said: just do it.

I think there is never a “perfect time” for anything. Just dive right in, head first and drown if you have to, but you’ll figure out how to swim up for air and tread along to the finish line.

To learn more about Emily and Chary, check out

Belma McCaffrey

Author Belma McCaffrey

More posts by Belma McCaffrey

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