Michelle Penczak is CEO of Squared Away, a full-service virtual executive assistant company that hires military spouses to help run operations for its clients. The team of more than 200 assistants gives companies, teams and venture capital firms their time back so they can focus on the things that matter most.
Michelle grew up in eastern North Carolina, and left home for college then found work as a personal assistant in Washington, D.C. There, she met her husband, a Marine, and returned to North Carolina for his deployment. With her title as a military spouse, she realized no one wanted to hire her, as many companies were looking for someone who would stay in the area long-term. It took her eight months before she found a job at virtual assistant company Zirtual, where she worked for two years and became manager. However, the company suddenly shut down overnight, leaving her and her team without jobs.
Despite the loss, she had clients who wanted to continue working with her, so she began working independently as an executive assistant and slowly building up a clientele. One day, a client who was interested in growing his company asked her if it was possible to scale hers to continue working together and staff up. Thinking of her fellow military spouses who wanted to work but couldn’t get hired, Michelle reached out to her friends and started Squared Away. From there, the company grew as clients and assistants would share their positive experiences, building a marketplace to empower military spouses and assist companies with day-to-day operations.
Listen to Michelle Penczak share how she built Squared Away with the business model of hiring military spouses to build meaningful experiences, become trusted assistants, and work from anywhere.
Michelle’s favorite local tacos:
The Taco Stand in La Jolla
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