Honors College alumna’s advice for young entrepreneurs

Tina Vidal-Smith ’02, MIB ’04

  • Pacer Health Corporation, Vice President of Business Development
  • Brick Mountain Billing, Vice President of Business Development
  • ML Management, Co- founder and Manager, Mixed Martial Arts
  • Bachelor’s in international business and marketing
  • Master’s in international business
  • Lifetime member FIU Alumni Association

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAQ: As an undergraduate, you had a double business major and graduated from the Honors College. What was that like?

It was really difficult handling everything. I had to work almost full time to pay for school and living expenses. I would take a 6:45 a.m. class, go to work and finish up with classes at night.

The Honors College is something really special at FIU. It gave me exposure to various cultures, religions and subject matter. It helps expand your knowledge base and really grow as a person.

Q: You have attained a level of accomplishment that often takes years to achieve. To what do you attribute your fast rise at such a young age?

Being willing to do anything it took. If someone needed me to take out the garbage or get coffee, I did it. When they needed someone to work nights or travel for weeks at a time, I did it. Finally, when they needed a CEO [an interim position she held at Pacer Health Corporation], I did it. For years I worked 14- to 18-hour days and traveled Monday to Friday every week to prove myself.

Q: You served on the FIU President’s Council and currently are the chair of the Honors College Community Advisory Board. Why invest the time?

A few years ago I felt compelled to help those that allowed me to get to where I am. FIU and the Honors College are a huge part of my success. I wanted to help other students along their path, and getting involved is the only way to do that.

Q: What advice would give young entrepreneurs?

Work hard every day and you will succeed. And don’t run away from your failures; run toward them. It is through failure we learn and grow. Nine out of 10 new businesses fail, so if you fail at first, just keep moving and eventually you will succeed.

Q: What does someone with her hands so full do for fun?

When you work hard, you have to play hard! I love to compete in half marathons. I really enjoy the beach and going out on the boat. But my absolute favorite is to get together with friends. There is nothing like being around people you enjoy.  

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