Women Atop Million-Dollar Companies

Female presidents are honored for giving back to the black community.

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Honorees and sponsors at the 100 Black Men/WPO event (Kirk Weems/100 Black Men)

(The Root) -- Nakia Stith has been running Top of the Clock, a security company, mostly on her own since she was about 23.  

Stith, who was tossed into the proverbial frying pan at such a young age, had little choice 12 years ago. Her father, who originally owned the company, was battling kidney disease and unable to perform the necessary duties. To Stith, it only made sense that she grabbed the reins even though she had no formal business training. 

What she found waiting for her was what she describes as "every bad thing that could happen to a business." In the beginning, it wasn't easy.

"Things were in disarray ... it was messed up. There was theft," she said.

One of the first things Stith had to do was to get rid of all the people causing the confusion in the company. Those people didn't take it so well.

"People would call my dad on me and report me to him. I got a lot of that, and so it was difficult," the now 35-year-old said. "First step was really looking at who was there and getting rid of most of them and starting to build a really good team of people I trust. And those people are still here with me today, so it was a yeoman's job, but the good part about it is that when you're like 23, it doesn't seem that big. I don't know that I could do that now."

Stith, whose formal education extends to an undergraduate biology degree at Morgan State University, said she didn't view her task from some Herculean lens thinking it was an "impossible" job. She just did what she had to do and what she felt was her responsibility.

In 2008, her father, who had been guiding her through the tedious process thus far, passed away. He had experienced chronic rejection with his daughter's donated kidney. But still, Stith peservered.

"I have a much young brother and sister. We're 13 and16 years apart, so they were very young at the time. I felt a heavy responsibility to make sure my family was OK," she said in a soft voice which belies her grit.

Today Top of the Clock is doing extremely well. It made a quick turnaround once Stith took charge. In 2009 it was recognized by the Philadelphia 100 as one of the fastest growing companies in that city.

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