Celeste Frye is the co-founder and CEO of Public Works Partners, a planning and consulting firm committed to creating innovative solutions for neighborhoods and communities.
With expertise in collaboration, management, and urbanism, the company is dedicated to working with government agencies, non-profit organizations, and architecture and engineering firms to create positive impacts.
Frye is a graduate of Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses and Coro Leadership NY, and has degrees from Cornell University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Celeste Frye: I’m Celeste Frye, AICP, co-founder and CEO of Public Works Partners. Public Works Partners is a WBE/DBE-certified planning and consulting firm committed to creating innovative, actionable solutions to support thriving neighborhoods and communities.
We work with government agencies, nonprofit service providers, architecture and engineering firms, and others to launch and administer complex new programs, improve operations, increase impact, and promote organizational excellence.
I co-founded Public Works Partners out of a passion to help mission-driven organizations increase their positive impact on local communities. My two children have been integral to my entrepreneurial journey, as I’ve built the company for balanced lives for the team with maximum impact on the world.
I previously worked in NYC government, where I led budget and human resources teams and launched large-scale business-based hiring and training initiatives.
I am also a graduate of Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses and Coro Leadership NY, and have degrees from Cornell University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
If you were in an elevator with Warren Buffet, how would you describe your company, your services or products? What makes your company different from others? What is your company’s biggest strength?
Celeste Frye: Public Works Partners brings a special sauce of analytical, management, and urbanist skills to create better organizations and communities.
We convey deep expertise in the areas in which we work, a commitment to collaboration and doing good with and for the communities we work with, and a passion for continuing to learn and grow from our work.
Every day, in everything we do, we’re working for the greater good. We’re building towards better because we recognize there is always more work to be done.
But we’re never working alone. Together as a team, together with our clients, and together with those who will be impacted by our work, we’re helping build better neighborhoods, communities, and organizations.
What advice do you wish you received when you started your business journey and what do you intend on improving in the next quarter?
Celeste Frye: When I started my business career, I wish that someone had told me earlier to measure both our efforts and our results, because that is what will give us the evidence that what we are doing is working.
Since I began being really strategic about what I value, measuring it, and looking for ways to move the needle in inputs to get to the outputs and results we want, my business and impact has grown.
In the next quarter, we are looking to improve how we measure effort and progress on client engagements.
Here is a two fold question: What is the book that influenced you the most and how? Please share some life lessons you learned. Now what book have you gifted the most and why?
Celeste Frye: In high school, my history teacher assigned me to read The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. The book, a scathing indictment of the meatpacking industry in early 20th Century Chicago, exposed me to the terrible conditions faced by immigrant workers in that time period.
In addition, I saw how journalists could uncover these conditions and ultimately bring about change. As a result of reading that book, I dedicated my education and career to making the world better – and I became a lifelong vegetarian.
The book that I gift the most is Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Don Clifton, because we give a copy to every employee – and I’ve given them to my husband and friends! This short book and the powerful assessment tool that accompanies it are keys to helping individuals and teams leverage their strengths for success.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as THE real challenge right now?
Celeste Frye: THE real challenge for our businesses and our society is creating opportunity for every person, which is the only way we will collectively succeed.
WIth an aging workforce, a lack of affordable housing, and a need for better educational systems for all, we need to work together so that every worker has an opportunity and every business has the workers they need to grow.
Affordable housing, fair wages, immigration, and education are essential to our continued prosperity.
The United States has proven time and again that growing the pie for everyone is more successful than some people taking bigger pieces.
2020, 2021, 2022 threw a lot of curve balls into businesses on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past years, how can businesses thrive in 2023? What lessons have you learned and what advice would you share?
Celeste Frye: The challenges to global production and supply chains are very real but my own business is professional services. In our field, the key to thriving is staying in relationship with clients and with employees.
That has been harder to do in the largely virtual workplace since 2020 but we have learned a lot about how to connect with communities and each other.
An informed and engaged public, clients, and employees are all crucial to thriving.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Celeste Frye: I have always believed that my superpower is the ability to make decisions, which a CEO does all day long. I get as informed as I can be, I make the best decision possible, and then I move forward without second guessing.
Every business owner would probably love the ability to see into the business future to know if all our dreams and plans come true!
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Celeste Frye for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Celeste Frye or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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