September 2, 2013

2013 40 Under Forty: Olga Kwasniewski


Title: CEO, Thai Island Inc.

Company Location: Holden

Residence: Holden

Favorite Movie: "Minority Report"

Favorite Book: "The Grass is Singing" by Doris Lessing

Career highlights: My professional career started right after my graduation from Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies, with a bachelor's degree in Korean language and literature. I was honored to accept a position as inspector of internal and foreign economic politics in the Office of The President of Uzbekistan. After my immigration to United States, I obtained a bachelor's degree in early childhood education and psychology at Worcester State University. Despite my academic success during college years (Top 10 in the class; acceptance in National Honor Society of Psychology Psy Chi), destiny prepared another professional path for me. I started as an entrepreneur in 2008, opening Thai Island restaurant. It became the new foundation of my professional career. Little did I know, other surprises were waiting for me around the corner.

Community Involvement: Since becoming "Ms. Massachusetts Globe 2013," I became an official spokesperson for Women In Needs Foundation, helping female victims of domestic violence and abuse to go through rehabilitation treatment and support programs. Also, I was fortunate to join Ivy Child International, a non-profit organization, and become an ambassador for its amazing programs for children that help them manage negative emotions through yoga, meditation, art and music. My company is also an active supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Worcester Arts Magnet School and other great community causes.

Biggest Success: My biggest professional success is taking a risk and opening a business in an economy that was not doing well at that time. I did have a vision and a plan that made it into a successful business during the past five years. Being recognized on a local and national levels ( an award from the National Restaurant Association as an outstanding provider of healthy dining options to the community; voted Best South-Asian and Take-out Restaurant by Reader's Choice for the consecutive five years) are some of the highest indications of my team's hard work and learning through experience.

Biggest Challenge: My biggest challenge was to learn and make decisions about the technical and construction process while building a restaurant. Being female and holding degrees in humanitarian science, technical aspects were tough to grasp and I considered it to be a rocket science had to master. Another challenge that I faced was balancing my modeling career and running a restaurant.

Mentors: My father, who taught me to be a goal oriented, ambitious and keep pride in who I am and what I achieve. My mother, whose wisdom and strong will was always a demonstration that anything is possible if you have faith and believe in what you are doing.

Hidden Talent: I completed three levels of Wilton's Sugar Art. Cake decorating is my hidden passion.

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