Bob Rakstang – Interim Director, IL Small Business Development Center @ GSU
As the Interim Director of the IL Small Business Development Center at Governors State University, Bob is responsible for marketing the center’s services to the Chicago Southland region and counseling emerging entrepreneurs and existing businesses that seek help developing, improving, financing or growing their enterprise. Bob draws on his first hand experiences of 35 years of ownership and management responsibilities in all areas of a growing international manufacturing business including strategic planning, sales and market planning, new product introductions and acquisitions.
Mary Ma – Director of IL International Trade Center
Mary Ma joined the International Trade Center at the IL Small Business Development Center at GSU as the director of new Illinois International Trade Center at GSU in April, 2011. She is responsible for providing targeted, high-impact services for export companies, including consulting and training , market research, technical assistance in trading, logistics, financing. She provides professional services to support businesses expanding to overseas market, especially the achievement of agricultural products exporting to Asia. A current client she serves received the 2011 Illinois Export Awards.
Mary has extensive experience in international trade and global logistics management as an executive with a Fortune 500 Chinese ocean shipping company, and has worked in China, New Zealand and managed the oversea companies in Singapore, Japan, Korea and Greece before taking the position at GSU. She also took the position as vice secretary general of China Cruise & Yacht Industry Association, to promote the International Cruise Industry entering Asian Market. She was a volunteer business counselor at SCORE Fox Valley as well. Mary has a MA in supply chain management from University of International Business and Economics in China. She also received an MBA degree from Northern Illinois University.
Lauren Esolato – Office Manager
Lauren Esolato is the IL Small Business Development Center’s Chief Clerk. She has an extensive background in customer service. Lauren is the office’s go to person, she maintains and oversees the office processes, provides information and assistance to our callers and clients, confirms appointments, assist clients with online registration and seminar sign ups. Lauren Esolato graduated from University of Dubuque with a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science, and has a wide array of financial experience including working within the Small Business Banking division at a local bank.