Island woman receives top Small Business Administration award
McDonough is the president and founder of Advanced Pharmacy Concepts, a pharmacy benefit auditing and consulting firm.
The award is bestowed annually by the state chapter of the U.S. Small Business Administration, which offers small business services in all states and U.S. territories.
McDonough applauded the federally-funded agency, and noted the importance of the financial services it offers. "If it weren't for SBA and their creditbacked loans, I wouldn't have been able to do it," she said.
McDonough lost her job in 1997 and she was not sure what to do. She had a doctorate in pharmacy, and was active in the national Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy. She networked with other professionals in pharmaceutical care. "Some people called me for a project," she remembered.
McDonough worked out of her house on the proposal, and soon other work appeared. McDonough soon realized she didn't need to find a job.
When she began her business 10 years ago, McDonough converted the children's nursery into a home office and used personal credit cards for expenses. "At some point, you want your business to establish credit. It's an important thing to have," she said.
McDonough said the SBA pairs up a new entrepreneur with a business mentor. She was matched up with a retired executive who headed up Asian operations for a major corporation. For McDonough, who had never run a business, the mentor unearthed practical steps for her. "He made me aware of the value of my services," she said.
McDonough has seen what it takes to start an enterprise from scratch. From a room at home, McDonough moved into a small office space in Narragansett and began to hire employees. Her company now has 27 workers whom she described as "highly technical types with good data-evaluation skills."
Advanced Pharmacy Concepts initially worked with insurance companies, offering consulting and organizational services for those who purchase drug benefits. The business evolved over the last decade into a specialized consulting firm that assists employers, large or small, with pharmacy benefit management. The company also offers services to federal and state governments. "Working with Medicare and Medicaid now is a direct reflection of how the funding
and scope of healthcare has changed," McDonough said, referring to reforms made through the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.
In addition to the SBA award, McDonough was the 2003 winner of the Elan Pharmaceutical / R.I. Pharmacists' Innovation in Pharmacy Practice Award. In 2000, she received the Baxter Award for Innovations in Health Care. She was also recognized in 2001 by the R.I. Business and Professional Women for her commitment to women in business. She is a past recipient of Harvard Community Health Care's Diamond Award.
With the success of her company, McDonough can now say with confidence that she gives back to society. Employees are given time off to do community service, and the company makes financial donations
to a variety of groups. "I can
make major contributions to charities that I couldn't have done if I had not gone into business for myself," McDonough said.
McDonough admitted that the road to the top was not easy, filled with long hours, frequent traveling and some financial bumps. "Many times I didn't pay myself to pay others," she remembered.
McDonough said she learned how much effort was needed to grow a business from scratch. "I appreciate what people have done to make their businesses successful," she said.
Full disclosure: McDonough is the wife of Jamestown Press publisher Jeff McDonough. They have two children, Kelsey and Lauren, as well as a dog and a cat.