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Female Entrepreneurs Steal Skills From Corporate America

During the 10 years Stacie Urbach worked at CitiBank, FGIC -- a subsidiary of GE -- and other major companies, she was pilfering right under their noses.

Two years ago Urbach waltzed off with her "loot" -- skills honed at those companies -- and used it to found her own business, Smart Heel , a company specializing in heel protectors.

It all started when Urbach, 36, tore the heel off her brand new Jimmy Choo shoes on the way to a corporate event. A fruitless search for a heel protector prompted Urbach to make her own.

At the time, the corporate world was losing its appeal for Urbach. She had fewer days off than colleagues who had children, and undefined deadlines often cut into her personal time -- causing her to miss a John Fogerty concert on one occasion.

It wasn't long before Urbach found herself living the life of a successful corporate fugitive.

The Goods

Women began leaving corporate America to start their own businesses in considerable numbers around 1997, says Betty Spence, president of the National Association for Female Executives .

Most of these women are developing an idea, many want flexibility and almost all use skills they learned in the demanding corporate world to give them an edge over less experienced entrepreneurs.

Urbach outlines the skills she stole:

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