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WATCH: Pinnacle Group CEO Nina Vaca Shares How She Turned $300 Into A Billion-Dollar-Plus Company

At 25, Nina Vaca used $300 to launch the IT staffing and managed services company, Pinnacle Group. That was in 1996 and less than ten years later Pinnacle was named The Fastest-Growing Woman-Owned Business in the U.S., a title it won again in 2015.

Vaca shared her secrets to success at the Women of the Channel Leadership Summit East in New York this week. The road wasn’t always easy, she said, but the challenges gave her what she needed most: experience.

“I always say it only took Pinnacle 22 years to become an overnight sensation. In those 22 years, that journey has been peppered with blessings and lessons – and failures quite frankly. “

Pinnacle Group’s defining moment was in 2001, right after 9/11. The economy froze, the staffing industry dried up and Pinnacle was on the brink of a liquidation plan. Instead, Vaca invested more of her own money into the operation and transformed the business for the future.

“I always think failure always brings a gift and that’s the gift of experience. What’s important is that we’re resilient, we have good judgement, we surround ourselves with great networks and we have confidence in ourselves. I have used all of those great attributes in my most challenging times, looking for those mentors, those sponsors, being curious, putting myself in that uncomfortable situation, taking risks --- all have served me well.”

Another thing that’s served her well? Finesse.

“Women executives sometimes get challenged with unconscious biases,” she explained. “I think women have a perfect opportunity to respond with finesse…when you always class up, you’re going to get better results.”

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