From making companies gr$$n to going 'green'
Anna Sabiston always knew being an entrepreneur was the career for her. She just took a little detour on the road there - a detour through Wall Street.
Sabiston (formerly Haag) was first introduced to the world of investment banking as a junior during the Carlson School's Investment Careers Trek to New York. "Prior to the Trek, I had little knowledge of Wall Street or careers on Wall Street," says the '04 Carlson School alum who majored in finance and entrepreneurial studies. "When I noticed that all of the brightest and most motivated students in my finance classes were applying to attend the Trek, I decided to apply as well."
The Trek, facilitated by the Undergraduate Business Career Center and co-hosted by the Carlson Funds Enterprise, exposes Carlson School students to prestigious investment banking firms through a variety of methods, including site-visits, workshops, and networking opportunities.
On the trip, Sabiston networked with Carlson School alumni and contacts to secure a summer analyst internship at Lehman Brothers. "I was amazed by the amount of responsibility I was given at such an early stage," Sabiston says of her internship experience.
She handled the responsibility so well that following her internship, Lehman Brothers offered her a full-time position - which she accepted. "There are very few careers where you can work directly with C-level management from major companies within a short time after graduation," she says. "None of this would've happened if I hadn't attended the Trek."
"The Street" can be a rather unforgiving place, but Sabiston always felt well equipped, crediting her Carlson School education for preparing her allowing her to excel among her peers once there. "It can be very difficult to get your foot in the door at major Wall Street firms," she says. "The Carlson School helped develop my 'softer' skills through many group projects, public speaking opportunities, and grooming for interviews. Also, my leadership roles in the Entrepreneurship Club, Pi Beta Phi sorority, and on the University's women's golf team helped to differentiate me from other candidates."
Throughout her five years on Wall Street, where she held positions as an investment banking analyst and an investment banking associate, her entrepreneurial spirit never subsided. "I enjoyed investment banking, but I had always wanted to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors at a later date," she says, "so I decided, despite the bleak economic outlook, to go for it."
She began her entrepreneurial pursuit by searching for established businesses for sale, and while doing so she came upon EcoMaids, a residential cleaning service that uses Green Seal approved cleaning products and methods that are safe for people, pets, and the planet. She knew it was the perfect opportunity for her.
"I wanted to start a service-based business, and I liked that EcoMaids was a relatively new franchise concept that addressed a major macroeconomic trend - going 'green,'" says Sabiston. "My education from the Carlson School and my work experience in investment banking helped me to evaluate the business opportunity and understand what my challenges would be."
Sabiston launched the first Ecomaids franchise in the Twin Cities area (and the first in Minnesota) in July 2010. She now considers herself a "jack-of-all-trades" while managing 12 employees. "So far, the business has taken off!" she says. "I've continued to work 'Wall Street hours' in order to hire and train many new employees, as well as to provide high-quality customer service. I hope that the momentum continues."
With Wall Street in her past, she's now on the path she always knew was right for her, and EcoMaids is only just the beginning for the burgeoning entrepreneur. "I hope to found, build, and potentially sell many businesses during the remainder of my career," says Sabiston. "It's satisfying to build something that couldn't happen without my efforts."