What kind of passion, tenacity, and commitment does it take to be among the top 100 individuals in business selected by Arizona State University for their Sun Devil 100 award? The kind that Sheila Richardson, Aspen Communications co-founder and CFO, brings to every project she takes on. That along with her commitment to doing good in her community gave her a place in the top 20 of those 100 awarded this prestigious honor.
While Sheila was still in high school, she was inspired by a group of teachers who showed her that if she wanted things to be different, she was going to have to create that change and the only way to do that was through furthering her education. The message was clear; higher education was how people equipped themselves to make things better. With the encouragement she needed from her father, she attended ASU and became a teacher like those who had originally inspired her to become an instrument of positive change in her community.
As a senior at the teacher’s college at ASU she took a course in philosophy and while studying the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius she came across this quote by him, “Education broadens the area of ignorance.” “Without higher education it might be impossible to know how we may have limited ourselves or simply gotten comfortable with ‘the way things are’,” says Sheila when she talks about how the quote impacted her thinking.
Having always had an entrepreneurial spirit, when she approached her husband about starting their own business in communications his answer was an enthusiastic “YES!” They dove headfirst into the creation of a company that improved the community standards almost immediately and brought a focus on educating people who could become the highly skilled installers so desperately needed in the field of telecommunications.
From the very beginning they modeled tenaciously doing a job till it was done and done to the highest standards. In a partnership with the State of Arizona and the Federal Department of Labor they put together a curriculum of higher education for their field with an apprenticeship program. “People graduating from our program are skilled, experienced, BICSI certified, and they can go anywhere in the United States with this certification.” says Sheila.
With passion in her voice she talks about the things that she and Don Richardson (CEO) are most proud of:
Over the last 20+ years they have had a commitment to 10-20 families not just for employment, but also for ongoing opportunities in education and leadership. “Supporting communities means supporting families,” comments Sheila.
The broadening horizons that the Richardson’s open up for their employees are expanding for the dynamic couple as well.
With the ASU 100 under her belt Sheila is looking forward to the future of the company and thanking Arizona State University once again for the opportunities.
Frances Vance, Writer, Poet, Blogger