President, Penda Aiken Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y.
Penda Aiken is a business owner and fiction writer. While she has an innate ability to write, her professional endeavor has been entrepreneurship. She is the president of Penda Aiken Inc. (PAI), a Brooklyn, N.Y., job placement company. Aiken has successfully provided staffing expertise to public and private sector entities and has addressed other human resource challenges with innovative ideas and solutions for 15 years. Her colleagues and the right opportunities fuel her success, she says. Al Bass, for example, in 1994 encouraged her to certify her company as a Minority/Women Development Enterprise (M/WDE) with New York State. The move helped her obtain contracts to provide temporary employment services to various government entities. Tamara Thomas, a staff member at PAI, keeps the company current on growth trends in the staffing world.
A major boost for the firm came in 1996, when PAI subcontracted for two years to a major staffing agency on a multimillion-dollar contract. The contract raised PAI’s financial rating and loan capacity.
Aiken has a B.A. in writing from Hunter College and a master’s of fine arts, fiction, from Columbia University. She has an affinity for Brooklyn and serves as an executive board member of the Brooklyn Neighborhood Improvement Association, a housing and tenants’ organization. She achieved a personal goal, she says, when she purchased a commercial building in downtown Brooklyn and moved her headquarters into it. Pursuing her literary passion, she achieved another personal triumph when she traveled to Paris and the Caribbean to write and research her novel, Faye’s Embrace.
Aiken attributes her effectiveness as a leader to Stephen J. Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. “Begin with the end in mind” is her favorite quote from the book. “To begin with the end in mind means you start with a clear understanding of your destination,” she says.
Aiken dreams of providing the Brooklyn Neighborhood Improvement Association with the resources to complete the renovation of its headquarters and implement an after-school program for the community’s youth that would include skills development.