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Sharon Whiteley

Founder and CEO of Pluggz

Sharon Whiteley is a serial entrepreneur with a talent for recognizing emerging trends and a proven track record engaging consumers on an emotional and actionable level. She is the founder and CEO of LiSTEN Brands llc, a company that creates, manufactures, markets and distributes innovative, leading edge products that enhance the lives of people and their overall health and well-being. The companys flagship line features fashionable footwear under the brand name pluggz shoes that have a healthful benefit of grounding wearers by re-connecting them to the Earths natural and restorative energy that lies right beneath their feet.

 

Throughout her career, Sharon has aligned her business interests with her personal values — nurturing human potential and promoting positivity. That was the mission of ThirdAge Inc., an online health & wellness content company focused on baby boomers and aging mid-lifers, and premiere marketers serving them where she was the companys CEO. Preceding her world in online media, she was CEO of Crimson Solutions, an early-stage technology company that networked college/university students with career opportunities which was successfully acquired.

 

Long before neuro-imaging could confirm it, Sharon recognized the power words can have on ones wellbeing and physiology. That led her to create Peacock Papers, an innovative creator, manufacturer and marketer of typographically designed positive message products including gift, stationery and imprinted apparel. Fourteen years later, Peacock acquired one of its competitors and the resulting merger created Contempo Colours. Sharon became President and Chief Creative Officer and the expanded enterprise grew to become a $50 million international manufacturer of consumer gift and paperware products. The company subsequently was sold to the publicly held American Greetings.

 

Earlier in her career, Sharon spent 12 years in the specialty retail shopping center development industry where she was regarded a pioneer and merchandising innovator. During those years she was integrally involved as a principal in the development and financial success of a number of major specialty and urban retail shopping centers. Among her many notable accomplishments demonstrating her skill in developing future consumer trends was her creation and execution of the transitory merchandising Pushcart concept in Bostons famed Faneuil Hall Marketplace, now a staple in shopping centers globally.

 

Sharons work has garnered her many awards, including the regional Entrepreneur of the Year Award sponsored by Ernst and Young in the Wholesale/Retail category, The Creative Imagination Award from Champion Paper and the SBAs Womens Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She has been recognized as one of Fast Companys Fast 50 Favorites and received a distinguished merit award by the Society for Social Communications Research, for championing early social media initiatives. Last year, she was honored with a Lifetime Achievement award The Creative Thought Matters Award of Distinction — from her alma mater, Skidmore College, in recognition of her numerous accomplishments and contributions to innovative enterprise creation.

 

A sought-after public speaker, Sharon has been a guest lecturer at Harvard Business School, Columbia University, Babson College, Boston University, Stanford Business School, and other institutions, along with industry forums. She is a co-author of The Old Girls Network: Insider Advice for Women Building Businesses in a Mans World (Basic Books), a how-to guide for aspiring entrepreneurs, endorsed by major business leaders. She is also profiled in Enlightened Power: How Women are Transforming the Practice of Leadership (Josey Bass).

 

A longtime mentor to entrepreneurs, Sharon is also a founding partner in 8Wings Ventures LLC, a private equity group which invests in early stage enterprises. She is a member and former Board Director of The World Presidents Organization (YPO/WPO) and The Committee of 200, an international organization of preeminent women business leaders. Sharon is also the former Chair of the advisory board at the National Center on Women & Aging at Brandeis University and a former Director of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. She belongs to the International Womens Forum, the prestigious Council on Competitiveness and also is a founding member of the Belizean Grove. Active in her community, Sharon is a co-founder of the Sunrise Foundation which supports children with learning disabilities. She is working on a new book project, Finding Your Voice, inspired by her own experience when following surgery; she literally lost her ability to speak for 15 months.

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