Maria Contreras-Sweet, head of the Small Business Administration
HOMETOWN: Los Angeles.
RESIDES: Washington, D.C., area
EDUCATION: Attended California State University, Los Angeles.
CAREER: Owned companies including Fortius Holdings, a private equity and venture fund, and Promerica Bank, a lender serving small businesses in Los Angeles. Corporate executive at Westinghouse's 7-Up / RC Bottling Co. Served as secretary of California's Business, Transportation and Housing Agency.
FAMILY: Husband Ray, three children.
HOBBIES: Hiking, traveling with her family, skiing.
LAST BOOK READ: "David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants" by Malcolm Gladwell.
FAVORITE QUOTE: What her grandmother told her: "It's not the titles you have that matter, it's what you do with the titles that matters."
GREATEST CHALLENGE AS A BUSINESS OWNER: When Contreras-Sweet started her first company, she used money from her Westinghouse stock options to fund it, and also took out a loan under a program to help women-owned businesses. Because she was busy running the company, she asked her husband to pay the company's invoices. During an audit of her status, she was told, "you're not really a woman-owned business because the financial aspect of your business is actually run by your husband. And I said, 'follow the money, see where it came from.'"
GREATEST SUCCESS AS A BUSINESS OWNER: "I'm really proud of having built a financial institution."
TWITTER HANDLE: @MCS4Biz.