CISABROAD BLOG · October 31, 2018 · 4 Min Read
CIS Abroad is named in Top 100 Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts

NORTHAMPTON, MA CISabroad (Center for International Studies), a locally-based company and one of the leading organizations of study and intern abroad programs to U.S. university students, has been named as one of the Top 100 Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts.

CISabroad is known for its fun, dog-friendly company culture (meet our office dogs!) along with its affordable, innovative programming and commitment to diversity and inclusion. The company has staff in 22 countries and is based in Northampton, MA. CISabroad has been a member of NAFSA since 2001 and is one of the original members of The Forum on Education Abroad. To find out more about CISabroad, check out our About Us page.

The Top 100 Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts

top 100 women led businesses in MA 2018

The Commonwealth Institute and the Globe Magazine partner each year to name the most noteworthy companies and nonprofits with women CEOs. The rankings are based on a combination of revenue, full-time employees, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and innovation.

CISabroad was ranked No. 97 among the companies considered. CISabroad experienced more than 14% growth from 2017 and will celebrate its 20th year in business in 2020.

CISabroad’s Commitment to Gender Equity

“A company is only as strong as its people,” Holloway said. “And I’ve got the best. We’re proud to be based here in Northampton as a leading business in the state.”

CISabroad’s President, Kris Holloway, has been a Western Massachusetts resident for 20 years. She has been with the company since 2007 and became President in 2016. She is also a founding board member of the Global Leadership League, a professional development organization for women in international education.

“We live in a world that unfortunately still has tremendous gender inequality,” said Joe Debiec, Vice President of Program Operations for CISabroad. “At CISabroad, we’re focused on our company culture and building strong relationships. Our leadership is easy to get behind because we bring a lot of heart and a lot of passion to our work. We stand out in the field of international education, and being a top women-led business contributes to that.”

Q&A with President Kris Holloway

The Globe Magazine sent these questions along ahead of the breakfast.

Do you think it is important to inspire? If so, how do you inspire your team?  

“Yes! Believing that what we do matters, and that the world is a better place for it, means we don’t sweat the petty stuff. Inspiration comes from knowing we are working together toward a higher purpose. I try to remind my team of that as often as possible, and share the client stories that show it. I do try to inspire, (though you’d have to ask my team if I’m successful) by walking humbly, always giving credit where credit is due, not taking myself too seriously, and being bold and daring about what our company is capable of. ‘Hide it under a bushel? NO! You’re gonna let it shine!’”

Why is it important to develop and promote the next generation of women leaders?

“Because we, in the U.S. and around the world, are not represented at the decision-making levels of government, industry, or religious life. If we don’t ignite the change, who will? We have so much talent and so many good ideas, and we’ll never benefit from any of it if we aren’t invited to have a place at the table (And, if once we’re at the table, we don’t speak up.) We have to support and champion each other. Thinking we should ‘go it alone’ or ‘bring ourselves up by our bootstraps’ is an ego-stroking fallacy. We all rely on others to make change and get ahead.”

What special skills or approaches, if any, do you bring to your role by being a woman?

“To be honest, I have a hard time discerning what is ‘being a woman’ vs. just being me. For years, I thought of myself as a leader who happens to be a woman. But as I’ve grown in my work experience, I have realized that the challenges I have faced are common to many women (self-doubt, imposter syndrome, lack of role models, the double-bind of either being viewed as too sensitive or too aggressive, all of it!). This inspires me to share my skills and experiences whenever I can, to stand up for people who are systemically ignored, and always be open to learning something new.”

A Birds-Eye View: Massachusetts and the Rest of the United States

According to the annual State of Women-Owned Businesses report by American Express, Massachusetts ranks 46th in the growth of women-owned firms from 2007 to 2018.

In that time period, women-owned businesses grew about 20 percent in Massachusetts, compared to about 58 percent in the U.S. overall, the report found. Boston also ranked 48th out of the 50 largest U.S. metro areas in the growth of women-owned firms.

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