Gina Perini ’95, the Chair of the Board of Directors and CEO of Somos Inc., was named the winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year 2020 Award, New Jersey Program.
Perini leads Somos, a top provider of registry management and data solutions that administers more than 800 million local and wireless telephone numbers and operates the registry for 42 million toll-free numbers in North America for use in text messaging and multimedia services. The award honors her vision, strategy and leadership, including leading the expansion of the company’s portfolio of products and services. Perini joined Somos in 2012.
Receiving the award “is a testament to the unbelievable work of my team to bring our vision to life and validates the way we got here as well — by empowering diverse teams and enabling them to bring their whole selves to their work,” says Perini. “We’ve created a culture where voices are heard, respected and embraced, where we use critical thinking, agility and creativity to solve our customers’ problems. So much of the culture that has been built had its foundation in what I learned during my time at HWS.”
Entrepreneur of The Year is one of the most prestigious business award programs worldwide. It honors visionary leaders who deliver innovation, growth and prosperity as they build and sustain successful businesses that are transformative. The program celebrates entrepreneurs through regional and national awards programs in more than 145 cities in over 60 countries.
At HWS, Perini says she earned a degree in women’s studies with the invaluable mentorship of her advisor, Professor of Women’s Studies Betty Bayer. She credits her success to the Colleges’ investment in her, from the financial aid that allowed her to attend to the encouragement she received from professors to dive into the campus community.
“I was highly encouraged by my professors,” Perini explains. “Once you start to become a part of a community, it truly grows organically. Especially at a small, engaging school like HWS — I was able to find my voice and learn how to be a leader in my own way.”
On campus, Perini was a Folk Fest organizer, a member of Hai Timiai, the Farm Club and the Green Coalition and served as co-chair of the Women’s Resource Center. She also wrote for a student publication Reflections and worked in Student Activities.
Perini deeply valued the “friendship and encouragement from so many throughout her time at HWS.” She credits several faculty members for impacting the way she saw the world, including Professor of English Grant Holly who taught her about “the other” in society, and the late Professor Emeritus of History Robert Huff who pushed her to “become the writer I didn’t know I could be.”
Late Professor of Women’s Studies and American Studies Toni Flores challenged Perini to “cultivate an authentic life informed by a diverse worldview,” she explains. Professor Emeritus of Art History Elena Ciletti “brought beauty and rigorous analysis together while unpacking the art of Artemisia Gentileschi,” Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies Susan Henking showed her how to “shift my perspective and question assumptions,” and Bayer taught her “critical thinking, writing, how to articulate an argument and analyze disparate information and data.”
Perini explains that the most valuable skill she learned at HWS was to be a critical thinker, to look at challenges and opportunities from every angle and to be informed by a diverse set of perspectives and data. “This includes the ability to question and test assumptions and think beyond what is being presented to you,” she says. “I believe critical thinking is the most valuable skill we can bring to our professional and personal lives — so much so that I have used it in hiring, assessing and developing talent within my organization and as a competency metric within my executive team.”
Perini holds a degree from Northeastern University of Law. Before joining Somos, she held a practice in the field of business and intellectual property law.