impactnews: PORTAL CFO Consulting’s Manny Skevofilax Talks about Strategies for Business Growth

Manny Skevofilax, principal of Baltimore-based PORTAL CFO Consulting, has a philosophy pertinent to C-level executives: “I always try to do things simply in business because everyone has to buy in – and in my experience if you go to people and tell them overly complicated things, they’re not going to buy in and then you’ll have plans and strategies fail because not everybody got it.” With this in mind, we were delighted to have the opportunity to talk with Manny recently for our next impactInterview with a focus on his experience with and ideas on strategies for business growth.

impactnews: In your view, what are some of the common major pains or challenges businesses aiming for growth experience in today’s market? And how does HR connect to this?

MS: So let’s take it straight for businesses aiming for growth. You’ve got a company – you’ve got all the boxes checked. You’re trying to grow it. I think the single biggest challenge – and how HR connects to it – is finding the human capital, finding the people to work on your team to successfully execute your vision.

So, we can do all the planning in the world – and attempt to predict the future – to keep a business in business. We can do all of this – but if we don’t have the team that is not only qualified to do the work but enthusiastic about doing it, we’re not going to meet the goals.

Manny Skevofilax, principal with Baltimore-based PORTAL CFO Consulting

I always go back to an old lesson I was taught many years ago about the jockey and the horse. You can have the greatest horse in the world – but if you have a subpar jockey on it, that horse isn’t going to do anything. And you’re going to be looking at the horse saying, “wow, this horse can’t run!” Well, the question is: did we take a look at the jockey?

impactnews: Along this line, what keeps CFOs and CEOs up at night in finding ways to maintain focus on their priorities? How can they properly establish the balance between what’s most important to achieve during the day in line with their overall strategy?

MS: This is a really good question. Properly establishing a balance between what’s more important to achieve during the day is, in my opinion, best handled by a list. There’s going to be small pieces in your daily strategy that actually have big impacts and there’s going to be larger pieces.

In order for the chief executive to maintain their sanity, they need to prioritize. You need to know what’s important. So, what is important? Let’s take away all this planning and worrying about capital needs – let’s just get down to the essence. I like to use the restaurant business model as an example. You’re hungry and you’re coming in to eat at a restaurant. The restaurant’s job is to greet you, seat you, be kindly, and get their machine running to bring you what you order. There’s no such thing as “we’re out of this ingredient or dish” because that’s not good. They need to bring the food to you on time, bring it to you hot, make you happy. And then send you on your way with good feelings and they hope their guests tell their friends to ‘go there.'”

Well, this applies to this business in general. What is the object of a typical company? It’s to provide solutions, products or services to address other companies’ or individuals’ challenges or needs – it’s about providing a good, quality, impactful solution that makes the client feel the mission has been accomplished. In my opinion, you got to have these things prioritized. If you don’t have quality employees, the human capital, to do the work, everything else goes out the window.

impactnews: From your experience working with entrepreneurs and business owners, is HR, in some cases, an overlooked priority?

MS: I don’t want to date myself, but I have had the blessing of being able to look at businesses over the last 30 years. I remember when I was younger that HR as we know it today was called the Personnel Department. Personnel evolved into Human Resources. And let’s just say the old way of running this department was kind of like a check the box mentality – “is that done? Ok, great.”

Well, over time, leading up to today, HR has evolved into a critical business function. You have so many different laws, different rules to follow, and the rules have changed significantly over many years past.

impactnews: What are your top areas of business advice for companies and organizations aiming for growth? How do you integrate the HR function into your discussions with CFOs and CEOs?

MS: When I’m meeting with clients who want to grow their businesses, we always first talk about whether you have to have the capital to grow. Let’s say we have capital in one hand and the human capital in the other hand – we’re constrained to go out and bring on more employees to be able to manufacture more products or deliver more services. We’re constrained if we don’t have the capital to pay for it. Those are the two topics that go hand in hand in our conversations.

I also always ask: how’s your talent? Are they happy? Have they been trained appropriately and do you have the capital to keep that group of people happy, enthusiastic and then be able to hire more? That’s the delicate balance.

Montgomery County (MD) Raises Minimum Wage to $15/Hour

The Montgomery County (MD) Executive Isiah Leggett this week signed into law a measure that increases gradually the county’s minimum wage to $15/hour (up from its current level of $11.50) – a move that makes the county the first jurisdiction in Maryland to raise its minimum wage to this level.

The Montgomery County Council last week unanimously approved the measure, which the county will implement via a phased-in schedule of wage increases to reach the $15 level:

  • Large employers (51 or more employees) must raise the minimum wage level to at least $15/hour by July 1, 2021
  • Mid-sized employers (11 and 50 employees) must raise wages to at least $15 per hour by July 1, 2023
  • Small employers ( 10 or fewer employees) must comply by July 1, 2024
  • Non-profit organizations and eligible service providers must raise wages to $15 per hour by July 1, 2023, unless they are considered a small employer

Other provisions of the new law include:

  • The new minimum wage level will be adjusted annually for inflation according to the Consumer Price Index for urban wage earners and clerical workers, beginning July 1, 2022
  • An opportunity wage equal to 85% of the County’s minimum wage for employees under the age of 20 for the first six months of employment

The federal minimum wage currently is $7.25/hour while the Maryland state minimum wage is $9.25 in 2017 (and will increase to $10.10 in 2018). As it stands, 21 states plus the District of Columbia, have approved minimum wage increases since 2014. California, New York, and DC are in the midst of phasing in $15 minimum wages.

If you have questions about minimum wage compliance, please contact an impactHR team member via email at or phone 443-741-3900.

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impactHR’s Kelly Mitchell Selected for “2017 Top 100 Minority Business Enterprises” Award

impactHR’s Kelly Mitchell, Karen Walsh and Dora Daniel (l-r)

impactHR’s Kelly Mitchell recently was named a “2017 Top 100 MBE® winner” by the Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council (CRMSDC). The annual CRMSDC award recognizes owners of minority business enterprises (MBE) in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia who have demonstrated exceptional entrepreneurial accomplishments, a high level of professionalism and have made substantial contributions to their community.

Kelly was honored at the CRMSDC’s 36th Annual Leaders and Legends Awards Ceremony, November 2, at the MGM National Harbor. The Top 100 MBE Awards® were launched in 2007 to recognize and celebrate the creativity and innovation of regional MBEs who are role models and an inspiration to their communities.

“The CRMSDC has long played a vital role in fostering entrepreneurial and business success and growth for minority business owners,” says Mitchell. “I’m very grateful to the CRMSDC and humbled to be selected for one of their Top 100 MBE Awards. This award, to be sure, is a tribute to my team, the partnerships we have with our clients and our dedication to helping foster their business growth.”

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impactHR Sponsors Startup Grind Entrepreneur Pitch Event at Mindgrub in Baltimore

impactHR late last month sponsored Startup Grind-Columbia chapter’s “Startup Showcase” at Mindgrub’s Baltimore office. As part of this event, Chris Haug, Startup Grind-Columbia founder and CEO of 360 Strategy Solutions Group, led a dynamic “fireside chat” Q&A with Ron and Cyndi Gula, founders of Tenable Network Security.

The event also featured teams representing four Baltimore-area startups who were selected to make brief product/service pitches. Each startup met with live audience questioning, feedback and voting to rank the best pitches. For the presenting companies, the winners were: SpotsWash (top winner), Baggio, Mind-Halo and Atomic Mole (which won the prize for “Most Disruptive Technology”).

Watch the event video

The HR Audit: a Tool to Assess your Present and Future

If you’re considering an audit of your HR management practices, know that an HR audit is a tool to assess the present and a road map to the future.

With a new year coming up, employers should consider undertaking an annual audit of their HR management practices. The primary reason is an audit will identify areas where your processes may not be in regulatory compliance and will illuminate ineffective management practices.

An audit enables businesses to evaluate employee management practices and identify areas for growth. Through this evaluative process, companies and organizations can assess where they are, uncover issues that they have and determine how they can best align their human resources practices to strategic business goals.

Indeed, just a mention of the word “audit” makes some employers uncomfortable. While employers see the value in auditing their financials, most do not consider the risks related to noncompliance to labor laws or inconsistent HR management practices.

An HR audit, ultimately, is a quality control check on the HR management activities in a company and determines how well the activities support the organization’s overall strategy. In other words, the audit should answer the question, “Are your HR practices in compliance and are they helping, hindering or having little impact on what your organization is trying to accomplish?”

An HR audit of your company will provide a clear pathway for developing and implementing effective HR strategies, practices and policies to further the overall goals of your company.

For more information about HR audits, please contact an impactHR team member via email at or phone 443-741-3900.

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