Mona Helmy co-founded San Antonio, Texas-based thermoformer Helmy Associates & Co. Inc. in 1988 with her husband, Abe, when she was 24 years old and served as the vice president until Abe died in 2009.
During that already challenging time, she became CEO of the company in the midst of the recession and worked to keep the business from closing its doors, declaring bankruptcy or selling off, something she considers her greatest accomplishment.
"People always tell me that I saved the company. Truth is, at that most difficult time in my life, saving the company saved me," she said in her Women Breaking the Mold survey.
Helmy Associates was her first plastics job. Both Mona and Abe Helmy were in the architecture field when he obtained a patent on a landscape system made out of plastics.
"Instead of contracting with others to produce the product, we decided to manufacture it ourselves. … We fell in love with plastics because it allowed us to combine everything we love — design, challenge and entrepreneurship," she said.
When she became CEO, the first thing she did was share her vision for the business with the team and listen to feedback and suggestions in return. The great ideas don't just come from the top, she said.
Helmy belongs to the San Antonio Manufacturers Association, National Association of Women Business Owners San Antonio, San Antonio Women's Chamber of Commerce and SA100, an organization of at least 100 women leaders who are dedicated to making a positive impact in San Antonio.
The best advice she's ever received is "you can do it."
"During one of my last conversations with my husband, I hinted about what to do with the company, and he said, 'You can run it,'" she said. "I angrily said, 'How? It has been so challenging to run it together all these years, how am I going to do it alone?' He said in a low voice, 'Then close it or sell it... but I know you can do it.'"