Ten to watch: These area women have excelled in local businesses while still in their 20s (Daily Press)

10 Under 30

Ten to watch: These area women have excelled in local businesses while still in their 20s

If you think being the boss's daughter is easy, ask Shannon Mueller, operations manager for Carlton Hospitality Group, a Williamsburg-based hotel management company founded by her mother.

"She made me start in the laundry," said Mueller, who now oversees as many as 150 employees during the height of Williamsburg's tourist season. "Nobody is doing anything I haven't done. I had to work harder than everybody else, because I was her daughter."

Mueller is one of this year's 10 Under 30, a group of young women who are succeeding in business.

Nationally, women continue making strides in business. Forty-eight percent of all privately held firms are at least half owned by women, according to the Center for Women's Business Research. Between 1997 and 2004, the estimated growth rate in the number of women-owned firms was nearly twice that of all firms — 17 percent versus nine percent.

But at major firms, it's still a difficult climb to the top. Women hold only about 8 percent of executive vice president and higher positions at Fortune 500 companies, according to Catalyst, a New York-based research group.

We asked readers to nominate young women, younger than 30, who were advancing quickly in their careers. Among this second annual group, two formerly served in the military, three are working their way up in family businesses, and one is grooming herself to take over her father's commercial real estate development company.

Here are their stories:

Heather Singleton, 28, occupational nurse manager at Jefferson Lab, Newport News.

Studying the building blocks of matter is not without occupational hazards. Singleton helps ensure scientists' safety around dangerous chemicals and administers first aid if there's a mishap at Jefferson Lab.

She conducts employee physicals, helps foreign scientists find health care in the community, and helps prevent repetitive-motion injuries by making sure the work place is ergonomically sound.

Singleton first worked at the lab, which is also known as the Thomas Jefferson Nuclear Accelerator Facility, in 1997 as a receptionist to earn money while she was in nursing school at CNU. She planned to work at a hospital after graduation.

She achieved her goal, but found it wasn't as rewarding as she had hoped. She felt rushed with patients because there are too few nurses, she said. She rejoined the lab in 1999 as an occupational health nurse, and was promoted to manager of the department last year.

"Here, I find myself with more time to talk to the employees," Singleton said. "We get to educate them more. When I see someone for a routine appointment, we have an hour."

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