Nicole Smartt Serres extends her personal conviction for community work to her business.
The president and co-owner of Star Staffing, which is based in Petaluma but with an office in Fairfield, encourages her staff to get involved in their communities and gives each employee one paid day off to do volunteer work.
“I’ve always believed in paying it forward. From an early age while on a sports team, we did charity work to support our community and make it better. Those values were instilled at a young age and I’ve continued to volunteer and sit on boards that help make a difference,” Serres said in an email response to questions from the Daily Republic.
Her partner is Lisa Lichty, co-owner and the chief executive officer of Star Staffing.
The company also gets involved as teams in such activities as Heart Walk, Relay for Life and food drives.
Additionally, there are special occasions when “we take cookies and flowers to senior living facilities (on) Valentine’s Day or donate clothes and food for different drives. And during Christmastime, each member donates a gift to underprivileged homes,” Serres said.
“The most satisfying work is helping people get ahead in their careers, which is why I wrote my book, ‘From Receptionist to Boss: Real-Life Advice for Getting Ahead at Work,’ ” she said.
“We also have partnered with Sonoma State University School of Business & Economics to help students with their job search, resume help and career tips. We speak on campus to students from utilizing social media to get noticed to one page resume templates and getting your dream job.”
In fact, Serres oversees the CSU Sonoma School of Business & Economics Career Center.
Serres also sits on the boards for the North Bay Leadership Council and Friends of the Petaluma Campus, which works under the umbrella of the Santa Rosa Junior College Foundation.
She said ultimately she would love to develop a foundation or some other kind of organization – or perhaps just an annual event – to help girls achieve their success and “conquer their dreams.”
Among the lessons she would teach is a personal philosophy of working hard, because that will always trump talent if that talent is not working hard.
“I’d love to do more for women’s rights and equality. I believe that when women and girls rise, we all rise,” said Serres, who is a contributing columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, North Bay Business Journal and Forbes.