As Director of Operations at reSET, Ojala Naeem is deeply committed to building Hartford’s entrepreneur ecosystem and developing the resources it needs.
BUILDING AN ENTREPRENEURIAL BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT IN HARTFORD
“When I started working for reSET in the fall of 2012, I was inspired by the vision and passion that our CEO Kate Emery has for the future of business in Connecticut and excited for the opportunity to help build an entrepreneurial business environment that was, quite frankly, lacking in the Hartford region,” says Naeem.
“In the past three years, I’ve seen reSET grow tremendously and had the opportunity to play a role in everything from the programs and services we offer to the community and space that we want to grow,” she added.
Naeem attended Fordham University, where she majored in international studies with a focus in economics and law. “I always wanted to establish a career where I could create a direct impact and find ways to give back to others,” she says.
BUSINESS THROUGH SOCIAL ENTERPRISE
“Fordham’s Jesuit tenants and philosophies of Magis—doing more for others—were embedded into the curriculum, encouraging us to take more holistic approaches,” Naeem explained. “That helped establish the foundation of thinking of business, economics and law differently for me. reSET’s approach to business through social enterprise was a perfect fit.”
Similar to reSET Director of Programs Rosie Gallant, Naeem was “inspired by reSET founder Kate Emery’s work as well as reSET’s vision.”
There were just three employees when Naeem joined reSET in 2012. At first she says she wore a lot of hats and was involved with information technology (IT), program planning and logistics, operations and long-term goals to help get the organization off the ground.
Her current focus is overseeing operations, determining how the space interacts with the community and figuring out what resources and services entrepreneurs need from the Business Factory.
Naeem says she loves working with the reSET team. “Everyone is very passionate and talented,” she emphasized.
“My favorite reSET event is definitely the Impact Awards. I started working for reSET two weeks before the second awards in October 2012—it was the best way for me to jump into taking on responsibilities and being hands on with what reSET was doing,” she recalled.
“Each year, we have a fun theme (Business with Fashion Values in 2012, A Taste of Social Enterprise in 2013 and Superheroes of Social Enterprise in 2014),” Naeem added. “This year’s theme is Welcome to the Future, and I can’t wait for everyone to see the wonderful future the impactful honorees are creating!”
ENHANCING THE GREATER HARTFORD COMMUNITY
Naeem is motivated by working with businesses and seeing the difference reSET has made in the Greater Hartford community.
She says her favorite thing about working in the Greater Hartford region is “the diversity in types of businesses and activities—there are a lot of communities engaging each other. Hartford is small but there is so much happening.”