The Network’s Local Leadership Series: Rachel Anderson, efactory

On May 16, Rachel Anderson, executive director of the efactory, joined members of The Network for a Local Leadership Series lunch. Leading the efactory as part of Missouri State University’s Center for Businss and Economic Development, Anderson is the latest local executive to share best practices with Network young professionals.

A Springfield native, Anderson expressed her love for our region’s rich culture of entrepreneurship and the mentality of making things better. She shared insight about her technology startup company Alumni Spaces, which was created “on accident” as she never intended to start her own business. Her willingness to try something new and not give up ultimately set her on the road to professional success. 

“The thing I really gravitate towards around entrepreneurship is the opportunity of it,” said Anderson. “You can learn something, you can fill a need or you can fill a gap.”

With this background in innovation and entrepreneurship, Anderson brings over 15 years of leadership and management experience to her role. She joined Missouri State in 2015 to revitalize what was once an abandoned poultry processing plant into the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center, an international award winning business incubator and innovation center.

The efactory is a space designed for students to engage in real world experiences while pursuing their education. It houses various resources for both students and the community including private office spaces for start-up companies, co-working spaces, professional development and leadership training and programs to match students and employers in the community.

“Starting a business or doing things that haven’t been done before is really hard, lots of people will tell you no and it’s easier to do nothing, or hit repeat,” said Anderson. “We really try and work with those who have an idea to help them navigate that.”

In her time at the efactory, Anderson has demonstrated her leadership by building the team from two to 16 employees. When asked about her approach, she encouraged YPs to not wait until they are in leadership positions to become leaders. Anderson believes leaders can be found at all levels of an organization and challenges YPs to be leaders in their current role by being authentic to themselves.

In addition to her Missouri State role, Anderson is the manager for Shaun Munday, an international recording artist, serves on the United Way Board of Directors , Downtown Springfield Association and Ozark Region Workforce Development Board. She has been recognized by many honors including Biz 417’s “10 for the Next 10” and “Biz 100”  as well as Springfield Business Journal’s “12 People You Need to Know”.

“Every day, people are actively choosing to come here to work, follow their dreams, and do something they care about, and that’s special,” said Anderson. “That’s not something you can get everywhere, so once you create that culture and momentum, it is really neat.”

To keep Springfield growing and thriving, Anderson believes community involvement is extremely important for YPs. She says she has learned pivotal skills for her career from involvement in the community by way of board service and volunteerism. Anderson encouraged Network members to think about how to use their unique skillsets to help others and to help the community.