Meet Tonya Mcneal-Weary, an award-winning entrepreneur, international business expert, world traveler, author, and global champion for women’s economic empowerment. She is the Founder and Managing Director of IBS Global Consulting, a global management consulting firm that specializes in helping small and medium-sized companies expand into international markets.
Who is Tonya? Define yourself.
I am an entrepreneur at heart. I have a strong passion for helping others succeed and have created businesses for that sole purpose. I am an adventurer. I love exploring new things. I can be a bit outspoken at times. But it’s that outspokenness that has allowed me to speak up for myself and others when something wasn’t right. I am an advocate for women’s economic empowerment and believe that all women should have equal access to economic opportunities. I believe learning is a life-long process, so I continue to advance my knowledge and education. I am outgoing and I love meeting new people. I believe in giving more than I receive. I am a daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, wife, and friend.
How were you as a kid?
I was born and raised in Chicago. As a kid, I was very shy and quiet – very different from how I am today. I was a dreamer and always dreamed about what I wanted to become in life and how I was going to make a difference. Growing up, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in terms of a career but knew that I wanted to have an impact on the world.
“I’m patient because I understand that success is not overnight, my passion for helping others keep me going so I’m very persistent, and finally I put in the work required to reach my goals”
How did you come to start your current company IBS Global Consulting?
My interest in international business began when I participated in a study abroad trip to China while studying for my MBA at Walsh College. The trip was the turning point in my career. Prior to going to China, I had never thought about becoming an international business consultant and had never traveled overseas. At the time, I was running an insurance agency, which I started in 2002. I wasn’t even an international business major. But that all changed once I returned from China.
Tell us more about IBS Global Consulting and what makes it unique on the market?
I founded IBS Global Consulting, Inc. in 2009 shortly after finishing graduate school where I studied international business. IBS Global Consulting is a global management consulting firm that specialize in helping small and medium-sized businesses expand into international markets. In addition to working with small business clients, IBS Global Consulting provides international trade advisory and support services to public sector entities, including trade and investment promotion agencies and economic development organizations worldwide.
Our unique value proposition is our vast knowledge and experience which gives us the ability to work with clients from varies industries and regions around the world.
What´s the recipe for your success?
There’s a quote by Napoleon Hill where he says “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” This is true in my experience. I’m patient because I understand that success is not overnight, my passion for helping others keep me going so I’m very persistent, and finally I put in the work required to reach my goals.
“Establishing valuable partnerships has been a key strategy that has helped to grow my business”
You are a very busy woman and I see you have participated in different organizations, What drives you?
There are so many things that drive me but the biggest thing that drives me – that keeps me going – is knowing that I am making a difference in someone’s life. My satisfaction comes from helping others to achieve something. I learned a long time ago that it is not about me, it’s about the people I serve and the legacy I will leave behind.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the years?
I’ve learned that there’s no such thing as “overnight success.” My company is successful today only because of the many years of hard work, late nights, sacrifices, learning from failures and my drive and determination to keep pushing forward – even in the bad times.
In 2012, you launched the Future CEO Leaders Program to provide mentoring and scholarship opportunities to young girls from underserved communities. Is the program still available? If yes, can you give me more details?
In 2012, I launched the Young Entrepreneurs Series (YES) program which was later renamed Future CEO Leaders Program. The program provides entrepreneurship and leadership development training to young girls ages 14 to 18. The objectives of the program are to help young girls from under-served communities discover, strengthen and enhance their leadership skills and to inspire young girls to become financially empowered through entrepreneurship. The Future CEO Leaders Program helps young girls to gain the leadership skills and confidence needed to become tomorrow's leaders in school, business, politics and the community. This is especially important since societal perceptions of leadership tend to exclude women, especially young women.
“I’m constantly learning and staying up to date on new trends in my industry. I encourage all entrepreneurs to invest in continuous learning and become an expert in their field”
You have THINK GLOBAL TRAINING ACADEMY, where did the idea come from and what is the purpose?
Think Global Training Academy is a registered trademark of IBS Global Consulting and is a digital platform that offers training in export development for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The Academy will focus on e-training on major international topics and concepts to help SMEs understand both the opportunities and challenges of doing business internationally.
Your book Women Going Global: Real-Life Stories of Women Entrepreneurs Doing Business Across Borders, what is it about and where can people buy it?
My upcoming book, Women Going Global shares inspiring true stories of remarkable women from countries around the world who have overcome the odds, turned barriers into opportunities, and are successfully doing business beyond their country's borders.
The book talks about how these female entrepreneurs tackled challenges head-on through stories of resilience, courage, and determination! The book is scheduled for release on November 16, 2020 and can be purchased at www.WomenGoingGlobalBook.com or Amazon.com
“I am a Black woman working in a male dominated industry so yes there are some challenges. But I do not let these challenges derail me from accomplishing my mission”
What Does a normal workday look like for you?
My workday is not the traditional 9 to 5. As an international business consultant working with clients and managing a team of consultants from across the globe, I find myself on conference calls at night because it’s morning somewhere else. Prior to Covid-19, I did a lot of international travel, working and visiting with clients worldwide. So now my “new normal” is working from home more often instead of from our headquarters in Downtown Detroit and more Zoom meetings than I ever imagined.
What do you love most about your job? & what is the most difficult part?
I love being in the position to help companies achieve their goals and to know that I have contributed to someone’s else success. Finding work-life-balance is always hard, especially when you have non-traditional work hours.
What is one strategy that has helped you to grow your business?
Establishing valuable partnerships has been a key strategy that has helped to grow my business. At IBS Global Consulting, we now have over 30 partners worldwide.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else does?
I’m constantly learning and staying up to date on new trends in my industry. I encourage all entrepreneurs to invest in continuous learning and become an expert in their field. It’s also important to know your clients – what their current needs are and what needs may develop in the future. The more knowledge you have about your industry and your clients, the better you can serve your clients.
What are the do and don’ts in business for women?
Do know your worth and your value. Do follow your passion. And don’t let anyone or anything hold you back.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I like spending quality time with family. Family is very important to me and I cherish those moments with my family.
Many authors say women can and must strive to have everything – a shining career, a blossoming family life and a perfectly balanced lifestyle all at once, others point out that– then women are placing unrealistic expectations on themselves if they believe they can have it all, you are married and have kids, so according to your experience, what do you think about these statements?
It really just depends on one’s mindset. I personally believe women can achieve anything and everything they set their minds to. For me, the most important thing is happiness. You can’t have a balanced life without happiness. It’s important to be happy – and do something you love! I absolutely love what I do so it doesn’t feel like work. I have a very supportive husband and family and that certainly helps.
What are your plans?
I will continue my mission of helping small businesses succeed internationally and empowering women entrepreneurs to reach their greatest potential. I am launching a podcast called “Think Global with Tonya McNeal-Weary” and plan to get involved with various international projects as well.
There is still the glass ceiling for women in the world: Fewer opportunities, jobs underpaid just for that fact of being a woman, etc. Have you experimented with the glass ceiling? If yes, what are the biggest challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?
Women continue to face barriers and other obstacles that limits them from reaching their full potential. I am a Black woman working in a male dominated industry so yes there are some challenges. But I do not let these challenges derail me from accomplishing my mission.
What tips, can you give to young girls who want to become an entrepreneur like you?
I encourage young girls to pursue their dreams, despite whatever challenges they might face. There are several resources available including training and mentoring programs to help girls who want to explore entrepreneurship as a career choice. Find a good mentor – someone who can assist you along your entrepreneurial journey.
I think in your position, many people may have the wrong idea of who you are, and what do you (professionally), with this idea in mind, what is being Tonya and what´s not?
Being Tonya is exciting. There is always something exciting going on in my world – from traveling all over the world to meeting new people and learning new cultures – there’s never a dull moment.
Who is the woman you admire the most and why?
I really admire my mother because she raised two kids as a single parent. She worked tirelessly to make sure that my brother and I had a decent life. And although I know it was difficult at times, she continued to work hard, and she never gave up.
Something else do you want to add or share with us?
As a global champion for women’s economic empowerment, I founded Michigan Association for Female Entrepreneurs (MAFE) in 2003. MAFE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting, promoting and empowering women entrepreneurs in Michigan. MAFE has helped thousands of women start and grow sustainable businesses that have contributed to economic development and job creation.
Name: Tonya McNeal-Weary
Company: IBS Global Consulting, Inc.
Designation: Founder & Managing Director
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