Though Andrea Arena Novakoski preaches the importance of personal time to her corporate clients, she's long been guilty of not taking enough for herself.
"You know the expression, 'The cobbler's children have no shoes,'" says Novakoski, MGT '89, owner and president of 2 Places at 1 Time Inc., which provides concierge services to companies that want to help their employees balance work and personal life.
Her long hours have led to good times for her company. Since founding the Atlanta-based business in 1991 at age 24 with $5,000, Novakoski has grown 2 Places at 1 Time to serve 80 U.S. cities and 30 in Canada. Twice named to the Inc. 500 list of the fastest-growing privately held companies, Novakoski's business employs 150 full-time and contract workers who focus on sweating the small stuff for clients who are stretched for time.
They will run almost any type of errand for employees of client companies, ranging from the everyday (grocery shopping, pet sitting, waiting for the plumber) to the extraordinary (coordinating an overseas adoption, rushing chilled fertility injections daily to a woman trying to conceive, feeding live mice to a boa constrictor). Novakoski has trouble refusing any request, but she did pass the time a client with serious psychiatric issues asked the service to buy her a handgun. "I said, 'This is going to come as a shock to you, but no.'"
Novakoski, who serves on the College of Management's Board of Advisors, got the idea for her business during her undergraduate years - an era in which she mastered time management by juggling three jobs with her full-time studies, even giving away her TV so that it wouldn't distract her for a single minute. During this time, she worked as a concierge at the Hyatt Regency and found she enjoyed taking care of people's needs.
Once predicted to be a social worker by her mother, Novakoski realized she could broaden the scope of the concierge far beyond hotel stays to make a real impact on people's day-to-day lives. "It got to a point in the early 1990s when overworked people finally said, 'It's not about the money. There's something more valuable to me, and it's time,'" Novakoski remembers. "I figured out a way to take the concept of giving people back their personal time to corporations that would underwrite it as an employee benefit."
Novakoski initially targeted big consulting firms because their employees have to spend so much time on the road, but she has greatly expanded her client roster to include a wide array of industries. Some of her customers include PricewaterhouseCoopers, Motorola, Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Kilpatrick Stockton, and Alston & Byrd. They pay 2 Places at 1 Time a retainer and then charge their employees a small hourly fee to help offset the expense.
Recently 2 Places at 1 Time began providing concierge services for patients at Piedmont Hospital, work that Novakoski finds particularly rewarding. "We do what we can to make every day a little bit more special for them," she says.
Novakoski's success has enabled her to slow down more lately to enjoy the special moments of her own life with her new husband, Steve, who shares her love of weightlifting. "I don't like traveling as much now that I'm married," she says. "I was gone so much at one point that I subleased my house."