[vc_row][vc_column][button type=”rd_3d_bt” size=”medium_rd_bt” url=”https://i2e.org/newsletter-archive/?email_id=24″]Back to November 2020 Newsletter[/button][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_empty_space][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”32059″ alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_border_circle_2″ border_color=”blue”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]
Q&A with Meg Salyer
Founder, and former President and CEO
of Accel Financial Staffing
President and CEO, Broadway Realty
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A native of Long Island, Salyer has made her home in Oklahoma City for more than 35 years. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, having also completed two years of study abroad at the University of London, the Université Libre de Bruxelles and Franklin University Switzerland.
She began her professional career as a corporate loan officer with the Chase Manhattan Bank in New York. For 25 years, Salyer led Accel Financial Staffing, until the sale of the company to key employees in the 3rd quarter of 2020. She is also principal of Broadway Realty, investing in, and repurposing, historic properties.
Salyer made the decision to take her community service commitment to a new level in November 2008 when she successfully ran for the Ward 6 City Council seat. She served several terms as Vice-Mayor, served as a member of the Oklahoma City Riverfront Redevelopment Authority and was a Mayor’s appointee to the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Salyer served as a member of the Council Finance Committee, Council Economic Development Committee, and as chairman of the Council Social Services Committee. Meg retired from the Council April 8, 2019.
Salyer was inducted into the Oklahoma Woman’s Hall of Fame in 2017. She served as the first woman president of the Rotary Club of Oklahoma City, (2003/2004), one of the largest Rotary Club in the world. She has been recognized by Downtown Oklahoma City with the Dean A. McGee Award and was the 2003 Journal Record Woman of the Year. For more than a decade, Salyer led the team that established the Automobile Alley Main Street Program.
Current Board service includes: First Fidelity Bank, REES Architects, Oklahoma City University, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, United Way of Central Oklahoma, the Civic Center Foundation, the Oklahoma School of Science and Math Foundation, i2e (Innovation to Enterprise) and the Arts Council of Oklahoma City. She is a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma, Leadership Oklahoma City, and is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Oklahoma City.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]How did you get into the accounting and finance staffing industry?
My first involvement with a start-up in Oklahoma City was the establishment of a national chain of retail financial centers in 1984. Following the sale of that business in 1994, I reconnected with a colleague from Tulsa, who was a fellow member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO). John Favell had a very successful career in the staffing industry and had a finance and accounting concept that he was interested in expanding. As a former banker, I was comfortable with sales, and my first team member, Diana Wall, had a degree in Computer Science from OSU, and a strong human resource background. Our competitive advantage was that each of our recruiters were CPA’s, and we carefully built a team of outstanding talent.
Accounting Principals was set to open at 7th and Broadway, in downtown Oklahoma City, on May 1, 1995. Just two blocks away, the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building significantly damaged our offices, along with blocks of surrounding property; our plans were left in doubt. With a lot of faith, and the opportunity to participate in the rebuilding of what would later become Automobile Alley, we opened our doors on July 17, 1995. For 25 years, during which time there was a name change to Accel Financial Staffing, the team has successfully served our clients and candidates, developing workforce and building careers. On September 30, 2020, the long-term employees acquired the business, ensuring a bright future for many years to come.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs pursuing a startup in Oklahoma?
Get started! Oklahoma is very friendly to entrepreneurs. While the State is not known as a hub for venture capital, we have frequently been recognized by national sources as a great place to start a new business. Few barriers to entry, low operating costs and a friendly business climate make Oklahoma very attractive. Collaboration and cooperation are key traits of our people, and this desire for all to succeed is part of our landscape. i2E, and others, have worked strategically to create the architecture for start-up enterprises to thrive.
Oklahoma’s startup ecosystem is disproportionately male, how can we improve the number of women-led startups in our region?
Increasing the diversity in our start-up ecosystem also requires a strategic focus. Change begins with the acknowledgement that a very small fraction of the venture capital that flows to deals in Oklahoma, or nationally for that matter, is invested in women-owned businesses. Statewide, the number of small business incubators that focus on women and minority-owned business has grown rapidly. University programs at our major universities, where 50% of the graduates are women, emphasize entrepreneurship and offer real-world experience. Women business leaders have created mentorship networks to help support a culture of innovation and risk-taking.
What are your thoughts on Oklahoma’s entrepreneurial community?
Oklahoma’s entrepreneurial community is young, robust and diverse, with regard to both talent and breadth of ideas. From re-purposing the Cox Center into a film studio, to entrepreneurial training at StichCrew, to participation in i2E’s e3 designed to empower and equip start-ups, Oklahoma is attracting, and growing entrepreneurial talent.
As I mentioned earlier, I think Oklahoma has a unique culture of collaboration and support within the entrepreneurial community that encourages and promotes success. We are also a small state, and by virtue of that, must rely on one another in a substantial way. We celebrate our big successes, and rally together with creative solutions when challenged. My experience is that we are in the midst of a generational leadership change, with a bright future ahead.
As an i2E Board member for almost a decade, what has been your favorite i2E accomplishment?
How can a decade have flown by! While I can point to almost every investment committee meeting, with robust discussion about brilliant ideas, or the thoughtful planning that has gone into reimagining the breadth and depth of i2E’s mission and goals…without a doubt, my favorite accomplishment has been serving as a judge for the regional Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup (now the Love’s Entrepreneur’s Cup) competition. To see, and experience, the energy and excitement of this collegiate business plan competition is a true joy, and offers great hope for the future of our great State.
Who has been your biggest influence and why?
My parents have been the greatest influence on my life and career. From my earliest age I was encouraged to be curious, to read voraciously, and to know that I could do anything that I set my mind to. They greatly valued education and volunteerism, and advised me often to step outside my comfort zone. My move to Oklahoma City was a surprise, but they fully embraced my new home. My Father, who turns 95 in November, often laments that he is not young enough to participate in the energy and opportunity in our community that he feels is palpable.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]