“Moving to Denver set me on a trajectory that changed the course of my life.” For Ristole CEO Jackie Adams, a woman whose life has already taken many turns, that’s saying something.
Starting her career in computer programming, she quickly found the hours behind a computer screen tedious. She then applied for and was accepted to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania, where she taught high school math in Swahili. After returning to the U.S., she began working as a corporate technical trainer.
At one international medical equipment manufacturer, she was the first woman to be hired for that position in their 100-plus year history and taught a department with 800 men and four women. It was during that time that Adams realized there is something wrong with the way employees are trained – specifically engineers and technicians.
“Employee training sucks,” Adams deadpans. “Everyone dreads falling victim to ‘Death by PowerPoint.'”
Frustrated by the limited change she could enact within a corporate structure, Adams quit her job and embarked on a one-year sabbatical. During this time, she helped co-found and launch a scholarship program at her alma mater, Case Western Reserve University, which awards students who give TED-style talks on the experience of minority groups in STEM fields.
At the completion of her sabbatical, Adams moved to Denver where she started her own technical training company.
“I knew I was an inexperienced business owner who had a lot to learn, so I just went to everything!” Adams said. She began regularly attending the consulting sessions offered by the Denver Metro Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
“Through the SBDC, I’ve met with consultants in various realms of expertise. They’ve helped me create a business plan, develop content for my website and marketing my company,” says Adams. “I can honestly say my business wouldn’t be where it is today without the SBDC’s assistance.”
She has also joined the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce to take advantage of networking opportunities.
Her company, Ristole, was accepted into prestigious local programs including the Office of Economic Development and International Trade’s “Leading Edge for International Opportunities” and Rockies Venture Club’s Hyper-Accelerate. During this time, Adams “was named among the Denver Business Journal’s Outstanding Women in Business” and received the Institute of Electrical and Electronic’s (IEEE’s) Outstanding Engineering Educator Award.
At the end of September, Ristole celebrated its one-year anniversary. Adams expressed the debt she owes to the supportive entrepreneur community in the Denver metro area for her company’s success: “This city has given me the opportunity to empower myself as an entrepreneur. I’m grateful to all the organizations and resources this city has made available to people like me, as well as the countless small business owners and industry leaders who have gone out of their way to take me underwing during this past year.”