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Alum wins Best Business Woman Award
Donna Erbs has become one of the top businesswomen in St. Louis, earning varied accomplishments and accolades in the business world. Over the course of her professional career, she has held executive positions in several companies, she has been a leader in community organizations and she has won several awards for her success.
For her efforts, the St. Louis Business Journal awarded her with one of the “Most Influential Businesswoman of the Year” awards. Erbs said winning the award was an honor, and out of all the awards she has won, this one was one of the most notable. She said it gave her a sense of pride and self-assurance.
“It kind of feels like I made it,” Erbs said. “They have been doing that since 1998, so when you think about it, there has only been 500 women in St. Louis that has ever won this award. To be counted among those women who have accomplished so much is really quite remarkable and I am proud to be among them.”
Erbs currently works as a chief marketing officer at Anders CPA’s and Advisors. Her daily job functions include running the firm’s social media, website, collateral materials and proposals. She said when making a decision, she focuses on the main purpose of pursuing a new idea and what the potential outcomes will be.
“I am a big proponent of Simon Sinek’s book, ‘Start With Why’. I keep a copy of that book on my nightstand at home and in my office,” Erbs said. “I refer to that a lot because I believe that the answer is always in ‘why’. So when I decide on any sort of campaign or any sort of strategy, I definitely go back and look at why we are doing it.”
Lindsey Suelman is the senior marketing manager at Anders. She said Erbs’ innovative skills has helped Anders grow regionally and nationally.
“She was the first marketing director that the firm hired so she started the marketing department here,” Suelman said. “She was instrumental in developing our brand and our marketing culture. In the past several years, our brand has gotten as strong as it ever has been and that is because of her direction, and her working with our partners and industry groups.”
Erbs graduated from Webster University in 1985 with a Master’s degree in marketing. Erbs said it was important to her to gain every asset she could so she would be a step ahead of the competition. After graduating from Southern Illinois University with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism, her desire to advance her career is what drove her to go back to school and obtain her Master’s.
“I needed every tool in my tool box that I could, so that Master’s degree became another tool in my tool box to advance my career,” Erbs said. “When I graduated with my marketing degree, my goal was to run marketing departments. In order to be at the leadership table in a professional services firm, having an advanced degree was important to me.”
With all of her professional success, Erbs said it was also important to help other young women who aspire to be successful in the business world.
“I think helping young women is critical and it is a part of my responsibility,” Erbs said. “There were a lot of people who believed in me that were men and women. So I think it is my responsibility, and women like me, to make sure the next generation also receives that sort of guidance.”
Erbs’ involvement in the Professional Women’s Alliance (PWA) is one of the ways she helps young women with their professional aspirations. One of the women she has had an impact on is Ally Gramlich. Gramlich took over as marketing chair for Erbs earlier this year. She said Erbs was instrumental in preparing her for the leadership role she now has.
“She really opened the door for me and got me involved while she was president and marketing chair,” Gramlich said. “She let me start doing social media post for PWA and started getting me involved in what the position would intel, so that was helpful. She always promotes innovation and if you have a new idea or a new process, she’s open to hearing that and I think that has helped me branch out into new things.