SLICE OF RYE
Jim O’Shea SCORES!
By Melanie Cane
When Jim O’Shea makes a commitment, it’s for the long term. For 40 years, he had a successful corporate career, and he’s been married for 42 years. He and his wife Julie, an audiologist, have a daughter, a son, and a 4-year-old grandson.
For most of his career, O’Shea worked as a human resources/administrative professional at global multinational corporations, the last 15 years at Skanska USA, a Swedish-based project development and construction company. One of ten children from a big Irish family, he is well versed in managing and getting along with people.
In 2003, he joined Pam Koner, Executive Director, and a small group of founding board members to grow Family-to-Family, a Westchester-based grassroots relief organization dedicated to linking families with “more” to those with profoundly less. He now serves as Vice President, Operations and Board Secretary.
In 2018, the year he retired, O’Shea began working with SCORE Westchester, one of 300 nationwide chapters that have helped 30,000 businesses get started. David Kellogg, the Westchester chairman, said SCORE “is a well-kept secret, where amazing people are available for no charge for as long as you want to build your business.” The nonprofit, which is a resource partner of the Small Business Administration, serves both start-up and existing businesses. There are currently 45 skilled volunteers, with a wide range of business experience, at the local chapter. “We have one goal above all else: to help your business succeed,” added Kellogg. “We’ll help you define what success looks like, how you should measure it, and make sure you stay focused on the most important actions that will get you there.”
O’Shea chose to lend his volunteer strengths to SCORE because he liked the cause they represented and the concept of entrepreneurship. He started out as a counselor, managed portions of the Workshop Program, and served as liaison between clients and their mentors.
“As an administrator, I reach out to each new client,” he explained in a recent interview. “We discuss their needs, the type of business they are contemplating, and what specific mentoring they are seeking. Many will have more than one mentoring need, so I suggest starting with the basics and then, as their awareness grows, I may refer them to other mentors as needed. Based on this first intake, I match them with the mentor I feel best accommodates their needs, coordinate their schedules, and make the appointment in our SCORE system.”
On March 17, 2020, when Governor Cuomo announced he was temporarily shutting down businesses and organizations to slow the spread of the coronavirus, SCORE Westchester pivoted to remote mentoring without missing a beat. During the first months of the pandemic, there was a tremendous spike in businesses applying for help and O’Shea was part of a small group of mentors who were trained in the SBA loan programs, EIDL & PPP. “We assisted multiple clients to help them get through the complex process of obtaining loans. Now, as many people find themselves at home, many are calling us, requesting help to start that small business they have long contemplated.”
Since summer, O’Shea has been working with six other volunteers on strategic planning and direction. “Whether it’s reopening, reinventing your offerings, conforming to new regulations, finding new customers, or repairing your financials, we can help,” he said. “We will engage in safe, convenient interactions by video, phone, or email.” Last month, O’Shea was promoted to second Vice-Chair.
He enjoys working with a diverse client base. They may want to: open a small restaurant, start a childcare business, run a home cleaning service, get into government contracts, publish a book, open a yoga studio, write comic books or a screenplay, sell health drinks, manufacture goods abroad, or even turn a freelancing gig into a business. “I most enjoy talking with a new client who has a definitive concept in mind, but no idea of where to begin. I then coax out the details, and through the conversation, we make progress,” he related.
“Jim is central to everything we do,” said Kellogg. “He is committed to SCORE’s mission and builds a special rapport with new clients who turn to us for help. He has a real knack for matching clients with the mentors who can best advise them.”
Not only does Jim O’Shea put his heart and soul into SCORE, he has also been a food rescue volunteer for County Harvest since 2019 and has worked as a strategic advisor at The Carver Center. On any given week, he devotes over 25 hours to volunteer work. “Giving back is the best way to stay busy.”