Chioma Isiadinso

Founder & CEO ? Expartus ? New York City ? Age: 36

Chioma Isiadinso?s passion for education was sparked during her childhood in a college town in Nigeria. Her mother, Maria Obiechina, was a high school principal; her father, Emmanuel Obiechina, was a college professor. Isiadinso is the founder and CEO of Expartus, an admissions consulting and personal branding company that helps applicants gain admission to elite colleges and M.B.A. programs. Launched in 2002, Expartus has enjoyed an applicant acceptance rate of 90 percent. In starting Expartus, Isiadinso leveraged her experience as director of admissions at Carnegie Mellon University School of Public Policy and Management and assistant director of admissions at Harvard Business School. Gloria Hill, director of the Carnegie Mellon Action Project, taught her how to manage and motivate people, critical skills in her own business, she says.

Isiadinso earned a B.A. with honors in psychology from Hobart & William Smith College and a master?s in education from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a mentor for high school students. ?One of the most rewarding aspects of my work is meeting the student who is really nervous and unsure about the future and their potential and then, based on our interaction and the information I provide, you see the spark come into their eyes, that sense of ?I can do it,? ? says Isiadinso.

She strives to live by Christian tenets. ?As a new mom and entrepreneur, some days can be quite crazy. [My Christian faith] really is what anchors me,? she says. She says her husband, Obinna, gave her the motivation and encouragement to start Expartus.

For those who would like to follow in her footsteps, Isiadinso offers this advice: ?Ask yourself some important questions: What do you want to do with your life? What are you passionate about? Give yourself permission to explore, to do something that will give you joy. Once you figure out what you are passionate about, if you work hard at cultivating the skills, you?re going to increase your chances of being successful,? she says.