Julie Palen '89 Sport, fitness & leisure studies major
Julie Palen '89 figured that if an entrepreneurial career was in her future, it would be in salsa. "I made the salsa everybody loved," she laughs. "As a Salem State student I sold enough of it during the holidays to be able to fly home to Kansas for Christmas!"
Palen is enjoying a successful entrepreneurial career today, but it’s as chief executive officer of InterNoded, Inc., a Waltham-based company she founded in 1993. The company provides wireless application management services for more than 100 leading mobile operators and enterprises worldwide. While salsa-to-new-technology may seem like a big leap, it's even more incongruous when one considers that Palen majored in neither business nor information technology.
"I learned most of the techniques I use every single day in my course work as a sport, fitness and leisure studies (SFL) major, especially concepts of leadership and group dynamics," she notes. "How do you get dissimilar kinds of people, who think differently and who have different internal goals and objectives, to come together and focus on a single goal? This is precisely what sports can teach us about business."
As technology changed rapidly in the '80s, the SFL major was quick to recognize that new technology could be the key to her success. She began as an administrative assistant in the sales department of computer software giant Lotus, one of Massachusetts' largest employers at the time. Within three years, Palen recognized an opportunity and struck out on her own, spending the next several years as a computer consultant. Eventually, she hired her own subcontractors and became a consultant to former employer Lotus.
"Know what you are good at, and hire out for all the things you're not," Palen advises others wanting to succeed on their own terms.