Collette Howell and grandsons

After enjoying retirement for eight years, Collette Howell felt an urge to find a new career. More than three decades in stressful executive positions at AT&T and its spinoffs made Howell certain of one thing — she wanted to be her own boss. When she found COMPUTER EXPLORERS, everything fell into place. Howell now owns COMPUTER EXPLORERS of Greater Sacramento, a franchise that consistently ranks in the Top 10 of COMPUTER EXPLORERS franchises worldwide.

Here is a recent interview conducted with Collette who has been a COMPUTER EXPLORERS (CE)  owner since April of 2004:

CH: I retired after working a full career in a very large corporation for 31 years. My position entailed a great deal of responsibility and ongoing pressure. I was able to leisurely enjoy myself for about 8 years. I needed to recharge.  Eventually, I realized that I was ready to look for something new.  I wanted to augment my retirement funds, run my own business and do something interesting and worthwhile.  I didn’t want to completely start from scratch.

At COMPUTER EXPLORERS I saw a way to use my career experience and add to it with new knowledge. Although I didn’t feel I would be a good teacher, I had 30 years of developing new teams and providing excellent customer service. I had confidence in my ability to attract and manage quality and talent. When I was young there were a couple of teachers that made a big difference in my life.  That’s something you never forget. I am doing so much more than working after retirement. I’m in a position to empower great teachers and help children learn critical skills. It’s very satisfying.

CE: How did you hear about us?
CH: I worked with a franchise consultant who narrowed my choices down to about five franchises. Two of them were education franchises.  I became enamored with COMPUTER EXPLORERS for several reasons. They had a good strategic plan, wonderful business-to-business partnerships and a great training program. Delving into the franchise was engrossing — like drinking out of a fire hose.

CE: What’s your background?
CH: I have a business degree from St. Mary’s College of California. I started working at AT&T and (what eventually became) Pacific Bell when I was 17. When I retired I was a regional vice president in charge of about $700 million.

CE: What do you like best about the COMPUTER EXPLORERS franchise opportunity?
CH: It’s a forward-looking franchise that enables you to help prepare children to be more competitive in the future. COMPUTER EXPLORERS has given me a chance to be around really good people – from the teachers, to the students, to the school administrators to the support team at the corporate office. I can focus on delivering unmatched quality. I love that it’s a home-based business. I have not missed going into an office. I’m proud of what I do. It’s a quiet proud, but it’s a satisfied proud. I think this is work with substance.

COMPUTER EXPLORERS has also given me a great opportunity to upgrade my technology skill set, and it’s allowed me to have a family business. My daughter works with me two to three days a week.

CE: Can you share one of your secrets?
CH: Hire well and treat your people right. I had long and deep experience in hiring and staff development in my corporate job that taught me a lot about how to build an outstanding staff.  I’m happy to say I trust my people implicitly. They don’t have to worry about being second guessed. I empower them. They don’t spend time on trivial matters. They know I’m going to provide the support they need to be the best possible educator in their assigned school.  I know there’s not one way to do something, so I give my teachers the freedom to apply their best judgment and interpersonal skills.

I concentrate on large contracts with private academic schools that offer classes throughout the school year. The sales cycle is longer, but the contracts are enduring … multi-year … and provide significant value for the client and revenue for my business. I am an essential part of the schools’ offerings, not just an ancillary thought.  COMPUTER EXPLORERS has allowed me to customize in this way.

CE: What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned?
CH: I’m unbelievably impressed  at how far ahead these young kids are when it comes to technology. They are not afraid. They lead the way.

CE: What keeps you active in your free time?
CH: My grandsons, Stephen and Luke, who live a just a few blocks away. There is no better job than being a grandma.  I  enjoy golf, so it’s nice that I can manage my schedule to play. I’m a reader and I love gardening. I’m quite interested in politics and follow current events closely.

CE: Why would you recommend COMPUTER EXPLORERS to someone interested in owning a business?
CH: If they have done their research, read about how franchising works and are ready to make a commitment to developing and running a successful business, this franchise will allow them to spread their wings. What they make of it is as much up to them as it is to Houston. It’s a two-way responsibility that is mutually reinforcing and rewarding.

COMPUTER EXPLORERS is almost an irresistible product for forward-thinking schools and principals. School’s cannot replicate what we do; it would be prohibitively expensive and time consuming to develop the expertise, resources and knowledge that our staff provides. We deliver core skills that are essential for future success of today’s student to learn and earn in a global workforce. Students must have the capacity to use a full range of technology tools with integrity and creativity. They have to understand the risks and benefits of technology. Their futures, and ours, depend on it.