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Karen Cooper
President & CEO,
SmartIT

“Certification is like most things, the more you put in, the more you get out.”


  • Founded: 2005
  • Headquartered: Indianapolis, IN    
  • About: SmartIT is a leading provider of integrated staffing and consulting solutions to large enterprise organizations across the country.  We provide a range of solutions from total talent management to complex consulting solutions, all of which can be customized and delivered to meet our client’s needs.
  • Website: www.getsmarterit.com    
  • Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn

Q: When and how was your business started? OR If you did not start your business, how and when did you come into ownership of your company?

SmartIT was started in 2005 in the basement of my home.  I left a successful job as a Sr. Technical Recruiter to find a way to balance the needs of my family and career.  As a single mother caring for a child with special needs, I decided to leave my job and start a recruiting business working from home. 

Q: How has your company grown and changed since becoming WBENC-Certified? What has been the greatest benefit of certification for you and your company? 

Our largest contracts today are with clients that I met at exclusive events for WBENC-Certified businesses. While we didn’t receive opportunities initially, we were able to start the conversation which eventually led to us doing business.  WBENC-Certification offers the unique opportunity to connect with businesses and start to develop relationships that can ultimately lead to new business. WBENC-Certification provides us many opportunities that non-certified businesses don’t have - that our competitors don’t have:  access, education, support, exposure. 

Q: What values have led to and continue to support your business acumen? Share your business philosophy and its influence on your success.

We are a service company and people are our product, so it just makes sense that we take really good care of our people.  We’ve created a culture that has allowed us to find, attract and retain the best and brightest talent in our industry.  This is, without a doubt, a huge differentiator for us in the marketplace and is the biggest reason for our success.  We demonstrate our ‘SMART’ Values of Service, Mindfulness, Appreciation, Results and Trust each day as we work with each other, our clients and our community.

Q: What is your proudest moment thus far in business?

Being named “Best Places to Work” for five consecutive years.  What makes this award so special is that it’s based on feedback from our employees…they think we are a great place to work. 

Q: What guiding words would you like to share with a newly certified WBE who is looking to get involved in the WBENC community?

Certification is not a magic key to new business, but it will unlock opportunities if you’re willing to utilize the unique tools and resources that WBENC-Certification provides.   And most importantly, you have to show up!  Attend forums, exhibit at trade shows, volunteer for committees, be a presenter or panelist, etc.  It’s like most things, the more you put in the more you get out. 

Q: How do you approach the Business Fair Floor?

I come up with my top 5 targets - corporations I want to meet for the first time or reconnect with.  I will reach out to any existing contacts that I have and try to set up a meeting – ideally outside of the trade show where we can have a more in-depth conversation.  It’s so important that you research your target corporations.  Not only learn what they do, but know what’s currently happening within their business…did they just acquire a new company, did they just win a new contract, are their profits down and they’re reducing budgets…what’s their culture like. We research the heck out of a prospective client; we know their technology landscape; we know who the decision makers are; we know who our competitors are. Then we go in and have a very focused conversation.  We always register in our target company’s database before the conference.  You get that out of the way and move on to the conversation you want to have.