SCORE’s Marjorie Luke developed passion for small businesses
Marjorie Luke has had at least three careers over a span of more than 50 years working in a variety of fields, and each one taught her valuable lessons she now brings to her role as Piedmont SCORE chapter chair and volunteer mentor.
The Connecticut native started out in 1968 as an engineering aid for United Aircraft, now United Technologies, before shifting to computer technology. Integrating computers into the business world was then an emerging field, and Luke worked for a succession of firms before landing at the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, which later became Aetna, for 23 years.
Luke says she had a rewarding career at the company serving in a variety of roles. But at the age of 50 and despite the professional success she had enjoyed thus far, Luke left the corporate world.
“There was still a lot of life that I was curious about,” she says.
She describes the next 25 years as the most interesting, professionally-speaking. She worked in a number of roles for various nonprofits before landing at El Paso Energy in Houston as their community outreach coordinator.
Luke would leave that role and found a technology consulting company with a partner. After eventually selling that company, she became executive director for the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce in Connecticut, where she first learned of SCORE.
The West Hartford chamber had more than 600 members, most of them small businesses with only a couple of employees. Luke says this experience taught her a great deal about the struggles of small business owners who in many cases wanted to “work in the business but not on the business.”
She also learned from those same businesses the value of SCORE mentors. Chamber members told her how much access to professional insight and business resources helped them.
Luke says she filed that information away but didn’t think more about it until she moved to South Carolina to be near her parents, who had retired here. She fell in love with the Upstate — especially Greenville — and reconnected with SCORE through its Piedmont chapter.
She says the work at SCORE is rewarding and the breadth of experience she accumulated over decades informs the work she does every day. This is a common characteristic of most of the more than 8,000 mentor volunteers in the organization nationwide.
“The spirit of entrepreneurship here is contagious,” she says. “It’s evident everywhere you go. I’m never, ever at a loss to be learning about something new.”
As a person of deep faith, Luke says she believes each step of her career happened for a purpose and led her to be where she is today in Greenville. “I believe if I do my best that the right door will open at the right time,” she says. “I’ve had opportunities to help people and add value, and to me that’s why we’re all here.”