Three Members of UConn Nation Among HBJ’s Women in Business Honorees

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UConn's FY21 budget is heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

 Three remarkable leaders in their fields and strong advocates for women – and each one a proud member of UConn Nation –  have been selected by the Hartford Business Journal as recipients of its 2020 Women in Business Awards.

The honorees include: Radenka Maric, vice president for research, innovation and entrepreneurship; Medina K. Jett ’08 MBA, founder and CEO of Integrated Compliance Solutions Group; and Shilpa Manaktala ’04 Business ’04 MSA, a partner at PwC. The awards are scheduled to be presented in June.

Radenka Maric Oversees UConn’s $260 M Research Programs

Before becoming an educational leader, champion of research, and a familiar presence at UConn, Radenka Maric worked as an engineer developing hydrogen fuel-cell innovation and clean energy.

Her many responsibilities today include managing a staff of 250 and overseeing UConn’s $260 million in research programs both in Storrs and at UConn Health. She also leads the Innovation Partnership Building at UConn Tech Park, which is the University’s center for academic-industry collaboration, and the Technology Incubation Program (TIP) that launches and supports startups.

Maric attributes her career success to a lifelong love of science. Born in the former Yugoslavia, she developed interest in technology and clean energy as a child. She graduated from Belgrade University and then went to Japan, where the advancement of clean energy technology was a national priority. After spending 12 years at the University of Kyoto working on hydrogen fuel-cell innovation, she moved to the U.S. in 2001. She served as head of the Institute for Fuel Cell Innovation at the National Research Council Canada in Vancouver before joining UConn in 2010. 

“People can make a difference when they have education and knowledge. For me, it’s a guiding principle to help as many people as I can get educated,’’ she said.

One of her recent accomplishments is the creation of the Dr. Radenka Maric Graduate Fellowship that provides financial assistance, social interaction, and professional development for graduate students.

“I hope that my legacy is two-fold. I hope that my efforts help more women reach leadership roles and not settle or give up their dreams after graduating from college,’’ she told the publication. “As a scientist and inventor, I hope that cars of the future will run on the clean-energy, fuel-cell technologies I’ve developed. Sustainability is the foundation of both of these dreams—I hope my legacy supports environmental and cultural sustainability that will make the world a better place.’’

Medina Jett ‘o8 MBA Owns Only Black Woman-Owned Compliance Company in the World

Medina Jett is the founder and CEO of Integrated Compliance Solutions (ICS) Group, the only compliance company in the world owned by a black woman. Her company, with offices in Farmington, Atlanta, and Austin, provides counsel to investment advisory firms throughout the U.S. and in Africa.

She built her business with 30 years of experience as an attorney and compliance officer in the asset-management industry. She earned her UConn MBA in 2008.

Client JoAnn Price, co-founder of Fairview Capital of West Hartford, described Jett’s approach as outstanding. “She’s very structured, disciplined, works cooperatively, and is an exceptional listener, taking the time to understand a business and what it needs,’’ Price said.

Jett’s key to business success? “Exceeding our clients’ expectations each and every time so that they want to tell others about their experience working with us, has been a key part of the success equation,’’ Jett said.

She said she wants to empower women by sharing the strategies that worked for her, including networking, building relationships, taking risks and “always knocking the ball out of the park.’’

Jett’s latest ventures include a book and speaking engagements, which she hopes will help women and minorities advance up the corporate ladder and close the wage gap. “I strongly believe that to whom much is given, much is required,’’ Jett said. “There are so many young women and people of color who didn’t grow up learning about finances and who didn’t have exposure to corporate careers or entrepreneurship. I want to create a path to success for these people.’’

PwC Partner Shilpa Manaktala ’04 Business, ’04 MSA Dedicated to Compassionate Leadership

Shilpa Manaktala ’04 Business, ’04 MSA, became one of only four partners in the Hartford office of accounting giant PwC when she was promoted last year. One of the traits that she thinks a good leader needs, and which has served her well in her 15-year accounting career, is to be adaptable to change.

“Change is about being comfortable with the uncomfortable,’’ Manaktala said. Ultimately that’s how you grow, she added.

“My legacy will be shaped by the next generation of leaders that I had the privilege to mentor and coach,’’ she said. “I hope to be remembered as a caring and compassionate leader who invested in people and inspired others. I am guided by more core values of integrity, commitment and ambition.’’

Manaktala, who was at the top of her class at UConn and eagerly recruits students from her alma mater, is passionate about diversity and champions it at PwC. “Diversity and inclusion are a business imperative and it’s my personal goal to continue to attract, develop and retain diverse talent,’’ she said. “The ultimate measure of success will be our ability to build a sustainable pipeline of diverse leaders and partners to support our firm’s strategies.’’

A mom of three, Manaktala also believes in work-life balance for herself and her colleagues. “I try to be a champion for flexibility so when employees are at work, they’re present and engaged, but open and upfront about other commitments they have,’’ she said.

Partner Keith Hubert has watched her shape that culture. “Shilpa provides a positive example through her energy and drive, but also spearheads lunch breaks and health habits for her team, especially during the firm’s busy tax season,’’ he said.