Three of the St. Louis Business Journal’s 2018 Most Influential Business Women trace the beginning of their careers to the University of Missouri–St. Louis.
“Remember these names,” St. Louis Business Journal Associate Editor Diana Barr wrote of the 2018 class, “because there is a good chance they will be changing the local business community for the better over the next 20 years.”
The three UMSL alumnae have been with their respective organizations for at least 19 years, bringing with them a proven track record and passion for the St. Louis region.
Carter-Hicks (BS administration justice 1977) is the president, CEO and owner of Hicks-Carter-Hicks, a national performance improvement company that helps clients develop employees. Since founding the St. Louis-based company in 1999, Carter-Hicks has gone on to earn several awards for her work, including recognition as one of the 2018 Women Business Entrepreneurs Who Rock by Minority Business Entrepreneur magazine, a 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the St. Louis American Foundation and a 2014 Diverse Business Leader award from the St. Louis Business Journal.
Carter-Hicks became interested in human resources after starting her career in a management training program with J.C. Penney, a position she discovered through UMSL Career Services.
“I think that having a good education, having a college degree is something that propels your experiences in life and in your professional role,” Carter-Hicks said. “UMSL taught me discipline. UMSL taught me hard work. I was working and going to school at the same time, so UMSL taught me how to prioritize. Not only in terms of giving me a professional education, UMSL was also instrumental in helping get me prepared for the work world.”
Kweskin, who earned finance and marketing degrees with a minor in economics from UMSL in 1985, also secured her first professional job through a lead from UMSL Career Services. She began her career in a rotational training program with McDonnell Douglas. After 12 years with the aerospace manufacturing company, she transitioned to Washington University, where she now serves as the chief financial officer.
“The undergraduate degree I received at UMSL gave me the skills and tools required to excel in my work,” Kweskin said. “It gave me the foundation that I needed, and then the career center staff helped me secure several internships that provided real life experience. With that, I was able to land my first job in an innovative training program at McDonnell Douglas which was a really important first step in my career.”
Westmoreland (BA communication 1982) spent eight years in advertising before transitioning to the nonprofit sector and eventually becoming the director of marketing for the Saint Louis Zoo. When she accepted a position at the widely acclaimed zoo in 1991, Westmoreland was between jobs and just looking for work. She said before she knew it, 27 years had elapsed.
The marketing department has evolved under her direction and now includes the management of advertising, creative services, special events, publications and membership programming.
“Every day is different here at the zoo,” Westmoreland said. “I love the fact that what we’re selling is so positive and wonderful and that the people who come to the zoo have such a fabulous time. I truly believe in the mission of this institution. I believe that we are dedicated to managing and caring for animals, and we are dedicated to connecting people to nature.”
More than 600 people celebrated the 2018 Most Influential Business Women class during a luncheon Friday at the Chase Park Plaza Royal Sonesta.