Ellen Cooperperson has parlayed her expertise in training women for nontraditional fields into training for women and men.
Her 24-year-old Hauppauge-based consulting firm, Corporate Performance Consultants Inc., aims to improve clients' performance -- measurably.
Cooperperson, a former filmmaker and manager in the food industry, changed her name from Cooperman in 1978 after a two-year legal battle.
She counts the late novelist Ayn Rand as a mentor. "Her love and passion for industry -- I share that passion. There's nothing that excites me more than hearing the dream of an entrepreneur . . . "
Cooperperson, 64, is married and has three children and four grandchildren. What have you learned from working with other organizations?
It's important to get "people acclimated to a job, having them really understand what the expectations of the job are, understand what the culture of the organization is. You can't ask people in performance evaluations to be accountable if you haven't had the early conversation about expectations.
"Companies spend a lot of time -- or at least, they should -- in strategic planning, getting the numbers right, focusing on bottom-line productivity, profitability. What they don't spend enough time on is the people that have to execute all of that. It's about having the right people in the right jobs and having the goals and the objectives of the organization [be] clear."
What do you remember about the first time you were somebody's boss?
"The biggest mistake I made early on in my career is thinking that you just give someone their assignment and you let them know what you want them to do, and then they just do it," she says with a little laugh. "That was very naive on my part. I didn't know what I say and what somebody hears may be two entirely different things. Also, that people have a tendency to do what they like to do, not necessarily what needs to be done."
How has your leadership style evolved?
"I went from thinking that I needed to do everything myself . . . to trusting the people that work with and for me to get the job done."
At first, she recalls, "I had that mentality that a lot of people have about delegation: 'By the time I teach you to do it, I can get it done myself. Nobody can do it as well as I can.' "
What qualities do you look for when you're hiring?
"The thing that we're interviewing for is, do they culturally match up? I don't want the 'best' players, I want the right players. I don't want any, 'I'm a star and everything should revolve around me.' "
What would you change about Long Island?
Cooperperson says she would like to see more community after-school and other programs for teens and children, including special-needs children. "Being the grandmother of four little ones, two who are special-needs children, there's such a limit to what's available, especially in the winter months."
Name. Ellen Cooperperson
Company. Corporate Performance Consultants Inc.
Business. Corporate organizational consulting
Type. Private company
Revenue. More than $1.2 million annually
Employees. 4 with 8 consultants