Founder and Chief Strategist, Inovo Strategic Consulting & Tampa Bay Spark
Tammy Charles, MBA, is a nationally recognized and award-winning social change strategist keynote speaker, training facilitator and the founder and Chief Strategist at Inovo Strategic Consulting, a global consulting firm that helps purpose-driven leaders create innovative and profitable business models to pursue social change. Her passion for community impact and development has allowed her to train, consult and coach more than 1,000 nonprofits, social enterprises and companies around the world. She has raised more than $10 million in capital to support economic empowerment, social justice, poverty alleviation, health equity, racial justice, social innovation, and more. Additionally, Tammy is a business management, social entrepreneurship and accounting professor at Hillsborough Community College, the University of Tampa and Ultimate Medical Academy.
Tammy graduated top of her business class from the University of Tampa with Magna Cum Laude distinction in Business Management. She later received her MBA and Nonprofit Leadership Certificate in 2016. Charles has received numerous awards and accolades, including receiving the prestigious 2018 Deanne Dewey Roberts Emerging Leader Award with the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. She has also received the 2014 President Bill Clinton’s Commitment to Action Award, 2016 Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Up and Comer Award for the Under 30 Category, 2017 New Leaders Council Fellow, 2020 Business Observer’s 40 under 40 Award and was honored by The University of Tampa with the 2017 Young Alumnus Award for her professional accomplishments and civic engagement.
Q. How would you summarize the overall workplace culture of the Tampa area? Is there something that sets Tampa Bay apart?
A. What I love about the workplace culture in Tampa Bay is that you have access to leaders in this community, unlike other cities. If I was in New York, I don’t think I would have easy access to the mayor or to high level executives like I have here. I love how Tampa is extremely collaborative and very open; I think leaders want to respect young professionals like myself, and that is a gift. I always say that I wouldn’t be where I am at with my business with Tampa Bay Spark if it wasn’t for mentors and leaders who have supported me, whether it’s financially, with time, wisdom, or sending me clients… I wouldn’t be where I am at if it weren’t for how collaborative and close the leaders of Tampa are.
Q. To what do you attribute your success?
A. My mentors and Tampa’s business environment have both been major factors that have played into my growth and success with my company. I recently heard that Tampa is one of the top cities for female-owned businesses. I started my business less than a year ago, and all of my clients came by word of mouth, through mentors, and people who actually believe in me enough to go on my own and send clients to me. I attribute my success to the community at large and the support system I have; the people I can go to and ask for advice, and gain a lot of confidence. I have had a lot of mentors that have spoken positivity in my life, and I don’t think I could have received that level of motivation in any other city.
Q. What advice would you give to young people who just moved to Tampa and are looking for ways to familiarize themselves with the business and social scenes here?
A. I would say show up. Tampa has a lot of events, and there is not a week that goes by where there is not any social event going on. People want to connect here; they have a deep desire to network. Don’t shy away from the work “networking”. Networking is extremely important and it’s not just about building business relationships, it’s about building authentic relationships. So I would say stay true to who you are and be authentic, because that is going to have the most longevity. I would say to young people, get involved! Join committees, sit on boards. The Tampa Chamber has a group called the Emerging Leaders of Tampa Bay, it has been a gift to be a part of it, and it has totally shaped my career. A lot of the things I have been able to accomplish is because I had to step outside of my introversion, show up, be authentic and be passionate about what I do. It is extremely important to really put yourself out there in a way that draws people to who you are and what you are doing to make an impact on the community at large.