As an Assistant Vice President at Excelsior Growth Fund (EGF), Carol O’Connell works hard to help business owners find the right funding and resources to meet their specific business needs. Using her expert financial knowledge and prior experience as a credit underwriter, Carol advises her clients on a wide range of business topics, including financial management and loan preparedness. Get to know more about Carol and why she loves working at EGF.
1. What is your role at EGF?
I’m an Assistant Vice President and Business Advisor at EGF. In this role, I support small business owners in their quest to build thriving businesses that will bring economic stability to their families, employees and communities. The job is wide ranging, from providing feedback to budding entrepreneurs on their business plans, to helping secure a first business loan, all the way to working with owners on strategic plans for expansion.
2. What EGF programs and initiatives do you manage?
When I first started at EGF, my focus was on getting to know the community partners from both New York City and New York State agencies and collaborating with them on supporting small businesses primarily in the New York City area. Gradually, my focus has expanded to serving areas north of New York City from Westchester to Rockland to the MidHudson Region.
I’m also the point person for a collaboration of community partners in the Albany area under the KeyBank Boost Build Initiative in the Capital District. As part of the Minority Women’s Revolving Loan Fund initiative, I’ve added New York’s Southern Tier (e.g. Binghamton and Elmira) to my service areas.
Last but far from least, I’m excited about working on EGF’s Veteran’s Loan program! This program, which is supported by Bank of America, allows us to provide below market rates to businesses owned by veterans and their families.
3. What is your favorite part about working at EGF?
One of my favorite activities is facilitating group learning through workshops, webinars and panel presentations. I think this group learning aspect is something that makes EGF unique. In my previous career as a credit underwriter, I had very little face-to-face interaction with clients. Now, I take advantage of every opportunity to get the word out on the financial and technical resources that EGF offers to small business owners.
4. What is your favorite thing about working with small businesses?
I’m a problem solver by nature, so I enjoy helping a business owner who might be struggling with a particular challenge. Given my background in understanding credit risk, I’m often able to point out possible challenges to a business that the owner might not be aware of because they are too “close” to the business. I’m most satisfied when I’m able to provide a financial solution that involves identifying a capital need and securing the right type of loan for that particular business.
5. What is a fun fact about you?
Working at EGF is actually my second career after 20 years in the banking industry. I was born and raised in Queens and spent my early years working in Manhattan, and I’m thrilled to be working at EGF because it meets my two bucket list goals: working in the nonprofit sector and returning to New York City! I love getting to know the unique neighborhoods, particularly Brooklyn.