Maureen McGuinness G ’13
Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Entrepreneurial Thinking and Innovative Practices
I love business—it fascinates me. Instead of novels, I read business books.
When I started Sylvester’s Restaurant as a young woman, I didn’t realize I was going to be an entrepreneur. But then, the business exploded into a premier breakfast spot in the Pioneer Valley, claiming the Valley Advocate’s “Best of the Valley” award year after year.
In 1983, my partner, Peter St. Martin, and I purchased the former home of Dr. Sylvester Graham, inventor of the graham cracker. It seemed fitting to name the business within its walls after him. Graham was an advocate for natural, homemade food. It’s our goal to preserve his legacy of eating well, a practice that has attracted people from near and far to wait in line for a table.
Twelve years ago, we purchased our second business, Roberto’s—a rustic pizzeria that’s been operational for 50 years. As an underlying principle, we ensure that we cook with the freshest ingredients and seek partnerships with local farmers.
We are fortunate to be surrounded by great people—the staff of Sylvester’s and Roberto’s are generous community-minded leaders who share Peter and my passion for community involvement. They participate in service projects like making dinner for a local shelter once a month during the fall and winter. Without them, we would not be in business.
In order to be successful in the restaurant business, we have to keep up with shifting trends, and we have to remain flexible. The restaurant business is very competitive. With technology evolving at a record pace and a rise in innovation, I was motivated to get my MBA (Master of Business Administration). Bay Path’s program called to me because of its Entrepreneurial Thinking and Innovative Practices concentration. An entrepreneur myself, course discussions centered on innovation, design, and new theories taught me to stay energized, expand my thinking, and ignite my creativity.
Being encouraged to study my own businesses in class was an unspoken gem. Professors Laurie Rosner, James Wilson, and Mo Sattar worked with me on developing analytics and assessing market trends. With their help, I revamped our logos and brainstormed creative additions to our menus, among other accomplishments. The coursework was instrumental in the growth of our businesses.
Bay Path’s MBA program introduced me to a diverse network of businesswomen. The camaraderie I shared with these women empowered me to press on even when I felt challenged by the balancing act of working, studying, and raising a family. Thanks to social media, it’s easy for us to keep in touch. I also stay connected by serving on the Bay Path Advisory Council. At the meetings, I have a lot of “aha” moments and learn things I can bring back to work.
We experiment with new ideas and sometimes stumble, and that’s ok. We’re in the midst of a personal audit of our business, top to bottom, which we strive to do at least every five years. We’re constantly tweaking things and looking critically at our ability to do it right, with integrity and transparency—strategies I learned at Bay Path.