THE BLOG
11/04/2014 04:24 am ET Updated Jan 03, 2015

Women in Business: Patrice Rice, Founder and CEO of Patrice & Associates

Patrice Rice has an entrepreneurial background with a history of building successful businesses. Her hospitality career began in the hotel industry where she was the Sales Manager for the Holiday Inn and the Director of Sales and Marketing for the Lord Baltimore Hotel in the Baltimore Inner Harbor. Her entrepreneurial career started when she opened Chesapeake Cruising, the largest fleet of powerboats for charter on the Chesapeake Bay. She became the first woman Captain on the Chesapeake and launched the industry of corporate entertaining on luxury yachts in the Baltimore Inner Harbor. Patrice then purchased and operated a marina restaurant from when she further developed a catering service specializing in the yachting industry.

Patrice & Associates opened in 1989 and has grown to be one of the largest hospitality recruiting firms in the country. For over 20 years, Patrice has been a staffing partner with some of the largest corporations providing hospitality managers at all levels.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Having been an entrepreneur my whole life, I've had people say I can make something out of nothing. Knowing what it takes to make things happen is what led me to becoming a successful CEO after founding Patrice & Associates.

I tried working for someone early in my career, but it was a bad fit and turned out to be a negative experience. Since then, I've been focused on my independence, while also providing a new generation of recruiters with the resources they need to be independent professionals.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at Patrice & Associates?
I've been growing Patrice & Associates for 25 years, so it's almost hard to remember a time before this. I first learned about the industry at a previous staffing job, recruiting for tech and I.T. firms. When I left that job, I worked as a freelance resume writer for a year, and authored a book on resume writing. These experiences, coupled with 25 years of running a recruiting firm, have taught me the ins and outs of securing a job, plus a lot of nuanced insights into the hiring practices of some of the restaurant industry's biggest brands.

I get to share this knowledge with my talented team of franchisees, and watch as the brand grows from our combined work and talent.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Patrice & Associates?
One highlight in my career occurred when I first started recruiting by myself, and discovered that restaurant brands pay a fee for every position they fill through a recruiter. Bob Evans, for instance, pays about several thousand dollars per recruit. I used to send faxes between job seekers and companies, and I learned about the Bob Evans fee because they responded to one of my countless faxes. That discovery changed the entire course of my career.

Another important highlight occurred more recently, when I went into franchising. Since then, my goal has been to help my franchisees. Together, our brand has grown, we've connected some of the world's biggest restaurant brands with the industry's top talent, and we continue to make waves in the restaurant management recruiting sector.

Why did you want to start your own recruitment business?
I was determined to be self-sufficient, and it was the by far the best decision I ever made for myself. Some people might prefer working for an institution, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. But I preferred a certain level of independence, and it never ceases to amaze me that I've managed to accomplish this through Patrice & Associates.

What advice can you offer women who are seeking a career in recruitment?
This industry is ideal for women from all different walks of life. Moms who want to stay at home, even people with a disability and limited mobility, can still be incredibly successful as a recruiter. If you can answer a phone or send emails, you already have the most important skills a person needs to be a recruiter.

There are multiple operational models in this business that women can tap into, based on their expectations, ambitions and needs. Whether you want to open an office or work from your living room, there's a way to make that happen as a professional recruiter. This job can offer whatever you want, at whatever time of life you're in.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I have to be diligent about time management and scheduling my entire day. By scheduling calls and appointments throughout the day, I can go home after work and leave my job at the office. For people who work at home, it's easy to end up working all the time. Learning to treat a mobile job like a day job with standard business hours is the first step in learning how to keep yourself scheduled and organized.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I think women, as a whole, have made incredible strides in the professional landscape. These days, I don't see a lot of issues for women in the workplace, at least not in my industry. I think whether you're a man or a woman, if you have the drive and ambition to make something happen for yourself professionally, it's entirely possible.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
My parents were entrepreneurs and accomplished the American dream at a very young age. I didn't really have other mentors throughout my career. My family taught me the value of doing work, falling down, getting back up and then doing more work.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I admire Hilary Clinton. In today's society, it often seems that women who are young, wealthy and dressed for the red carpet, get the most valuable attention and opportunities. But when I think about Hilary Clinton, and all that she's been through, I just find it so admirable that she's still willing to put herself out there and possibly even run in a presidential election.

Likewise, I admire Sarah Palin, a lot. She speaks her mind and goes against the grain. She gets out there often and says what she believes in. People don't always agree with her, but she doesn't let critics decide what she should think or do. That's impressive.

What do you want Patrice & Associates to accomplish in the next year?
I'm planning to take my business international. First we're going to Canada in 2014, followed by the United Kingdom and Australia next year.