July 27, 2016 | 4:30 p.m.
By Ava Bergen, alumni communications
The day after Ali Farnsworth GS‘12 enrolled in the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program at Bethel, she found a bag of prescription painkillers in her husband’s suit pocket. They had not been prescribed by a doctor.
It wasn’t exactly an ideal time to begin a rigorous MBA program. As owner of a mortgage company in the middle of the 2008 housing crisis, caregiver for her two young children, and now reeling from the news of her husband’s addiction, no one would have blamed her for postponing the program.
But that’s just not how Farnsworth is wired. She made a commitment to going back to school, and she was going to follow through. “There’s a reason I signed up for my MBA and I decided to continue despite the roadblocks I was facing,” she says. “I really feel that God drove my car to Bethel that first day. There’s no other explanation. I was meant to complete my MBA during that time. It was a positive place to channel my energy. I wasn't lying awake at night after I put my kids to bed and stressing, I was up writing papers. Bethel was an anchor in the storm for me.”
Now, as founder and CEO of Technology Solutions Group (TSG), a unique technology company representing the “cream of the crop” of Minnesota IT companies with contract field sales representation services, Farnsworth’s story is one of steadfastly overcoming challenge.
When asked about her staunch commitment to finish her MBA during a chaotic time, Farnsworth reminisced, “Through what I considered setbacks in my life, education enabled me to have a way forward. I thought to myself ‘all of this is happening, but at least I’m doing this thing that’s going to put me in a better spot to provide for my kids and be in a more secure place going forward.’”
Farnsworth worked full-time while completing her master’s, and she credits her boss Ray Littlefield GS‘16 with his flexibility in accommodating her packed schedule. “To this day he is a strong mentor to me, an advisor, and a friend. He was understanding when I needed to spend a little extra time working on a paper at the office.”
Her commitment to her studies—even in the middle of such a tense time in her personal life—didn’t go unnoticed by her cohort and the Bethel staff and faculty. “Ali has vision, initiative, smarts, and wisdom,” says Tedi Anne Hasapopoulos, one of Farnsworth’s instructors and mentors at Bethel. “That’s a powerful combination! Her trust in God is the greatest gift she is giving her children and her company.”
Following her graduation, Farnsworth worked for the Minneapolis-based mobile app company MentorMate as a strategic account director and sales representative, but knew she was capable of more. Armed with her business model for TSG, she resigned and asked MentorMate to be her first vendor partner. “Now we do well over $1 million per year in volume for them. They were a great supporter in being a launchpad for me to go out and start this company. I am very thankful,” she says.
Overall, Farnsworth proclaims a message of hope. She does not normally air details of her personal life, and does not want to be known as a victim, but hopes that sharing her story will inspire others to pursue their goals even in the midst of struggles and stress.
“Maybe someone who is reading this will be encouraged to take the plunge and further themselves even while going through something difficult. The point of this is that you can pursue your educational goals and remain positive and driven despite any adversity.”
Farnsworth was recently named one of the National Association of Women Business Owners’ (NAWBO) Women Business Leaders You Should Know, received a NAWBO Innovation in Technology Award, and is certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).