From Girl Scout to CEO: Hope Accelerates Possibility

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According to Catalyst, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are overwhelmingly white, straight, and male. Women, women of color, women born outside of the United States, and LGBTQ+ women are underrepresented. But while this statistic primarily analyzes the upper echelon of corporate America, what can be said about other CEOs in the United States, especially those who service niche industries? Is it still the “good old boys’ club”? More importantly, does being an alum of the Girl Scouts help one navigate those barriers?

Girl Scout alum and business owner Kim Clarke gives us her perspective.

What services does your company, RPT New York, offer?

RPT New York is an industrial pipeline and coating contractor providing rehabilitation and remediation to plant and industrial settings. Our customers consist of the Department of Environmental Protection, Dominion Energy, and Colonial Pipeline. We have been in business for more than 17 years. 

When did you first know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I first knew I wanted to be a business owner when I was in middle school. I enjoyed setting up my own lemonade stands, dog walking for neighbors. I especially loved selling Girl Scout cookies.

Which of the Girl Scout traits have carried over into your adult life and/or business? 

I truly believe that the backbone of any business, family, or relationship flourishes and has longevity when there is mutual honesty and respect. Courage is extremely important when doing anything in life. I identify as not only being a woman, but a member of the LGBTQ+ community. In my line of work, it was once a man’s world, and breaking the glass ceiling has taken a lot of courage on my part, and it has been one of my biggest achievements as a business owner, mom, and citizen. 

What do you most remember from your days as a Girl Scout?

One of our community service projects was going to a nursing home to do crafts with the senior citizens. When we arrived, I remember a lot of the residents staring at the TV or sleeping in their chairs. This changed quickly being in our company and I could tell it was due to the “young energy” that we brought into the room with us. One woman told me to feel free to call her “Grandma,” so I did. I learned that day that extra patience and kindness is a must when dealing with the elderly. This event inspired me to volunteer at a nursing home when I was a teenager. It brought me so much joy knowing that my presence really gave them something to which to look forward. In my adulthood, pre-COVID, I was in the process of getting my Pit Bull “Willow” certified to be a visiting companion to our local nursing home. I still hope to complete this goal in the next few years. 

Imagining that your professional life is a continuation of the Girl Scout program, what professional award/recognition ("badge") have you been the most proud to earn?

I have been most proud of the animal lovers badge I received. It gave me an even deeper love for animals and their protection and respect. In my adulthood, I carried this love further working with dog animal rescue (Mostly Muttz), and the Funny Farm Rescue and Sanctuary (Mays Landing, New Jersey). 

How did being a Girl Scout shape you, as a female business owner?

Being a Girl Scout allowed me to feel free and able as a young woman. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, I felt it was still a man’s world for business. The Girl Scouts gave me hope that things would dramatically accelerate for women over time. Since I had this hope, it allowed me to keep pushing forward in life, no matter what obstacle I encountered.

RPT New York is a WBENC and NGLCC certified coatings application services and product solutions provider. In addition to the application of chemical, corrosion, and abrasion resistant coatings for their customer's facilities, equipment and infrastructure, RPT also offers pipeline rehabilitation services. For more information, visit rptny.com

Tags: Entrepreneur, Girl Scout, Women in Business

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Written By

Kate Weaver

Her 2016 mission was to ONLY buy products & services from women-owned businesses. Today, she remains a Speaker, Writer & Passionate Buyer of all WO things. See Full Bio

CircleAround is owned by One GS Media, a subsidiary of Girl Scouts of the USA, and we make financial distributions to benefit the next generation of Girl Scouts. We strive to make the world a better place by supporting each other today and emboldening the women leaders of tomorrow.

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