President and Co-Founder, Wittenberg Weiner Consulting LLC
When Lauren Weiner graduated with her Ph.D. in research psychology from Dartmouth, she wasn’t interested in entering academia. Instead, she entered the world of politics, working four years as a policy analyst at the Office of Management and Budget under the Clinton and Bush administrations.
When her soon-to-be fiancé received orders to work in a new military command in Naples, Italy, Weiner decided she would join him, noting multiple openings for senior management positions near the base.
She quickly secured a job on base in IT policy, when a comptroller position became available. Much to her surprise, the executive director would not consider her. He told her bluntly, “Even though you’re the best candidate, you’re 30 years old, you just got married, you’re going to get pregnant and you won’t be a professional for long,” Weiner recalls.
So Weiner opened her own business in 2004, Weiner Wittenberg Consulting, combining her two last names in hopes of conveying big-agency capability. She picked up her first contract almost immediately, an analytics project on base.
Soon she was asked to complete database work, and she brought on her friend, Donna Huneycutt, as a business partner to help. Before long, there was more work, so they hired their first employee, another military spouse, a Harvard-educated lawyer.
Weiner recalls clients telling her, “I want another one of you, give me another one.” In its first year, Wittenberg Weiner Consulting grew to 15 military-spouse professionals. Now the company has 60 employees, working in 15 time zones, earning around $7 million in revenue.
Despite spanning the globe, Weiner still actively manages all employees, providing security clearances and extensive background checks to make sure they are the right fit for positions. She also works hard to make everyone feel they are part of a cohesive company. One way is through a traveling stuffed hedgehog mascot, “Hedgie,” who was born from a company love for Jim Collin’s book, “Good to Great.”
Weiner says she and Huneycutt aren’t looking to sell the company and expect to be in business for the long run. “This is our baby growing all the way through,” she adds. She hopes to continue to support other military-spouse professionals outside of work through her nonprofit, In Gear Career.
— Traci McMillan Beach
Birthplace: Detroit, Mich.
City of residence: Odessa
Years on the Gulf Coast: Three
Marital status/children: Married; two children (Rachel, 5 and Ben, 2.5)
Twitter handle: @WWCPrez
Best place to network: US Airways flight to/from Washington, D.C.
Coolest business experience: Having dinner at the home of the vice chair of the joint chiefs of staff, and having to sneak away to the bushes at the side of the house to read "Goodnight Moon" to my daughter.
The most important business lesson I’ve learned: Trust your gut.
One website that makes your job easier: Facebook. We have a private internal company page — a "virtual water cooler" — that allows our employees scattered across 10 time zones to talk to each other.
One community group you’re most involved with: In Gear Career, the non-profit I helped to found, chair the board, and continue to fund, which focuses on addressing the unique challenges faced by professionally focused military spouses.
Favorite off-hours activity: Off-hours?! What's that? I own a small business and have two young kids!
Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher, two great (and decidedly human) leaders who defied gender stereotypes and garnered the respect of even their staunchest detractors.
Who would play you in a movie about your life: Natalie Portman
If I had a magic wand I’d: End the political gridlock in Washington, starting with the sequester… but it would have to be one powerful wand, and it would most likely combust after that single request.