30/12/2015 12:24 GMT | Updated 30/12/2016 05:12 GMT

Women in Business Q&A: Shari Bayer, Founder, Bayer Public Relations

Shari founded Bayer Public Relations with the vision of generating quality publicity for quality products. Particularly passionate about food and restaurants, Shari has focused on these fields, offering a personalized service to her clients, while maintaining a strong presence in the hospitality community. Her boutique company has represented an array of restaurants, chefs and culinary-focused events since 2003, including Capsouto Freres, elm, EXKi, Serafina Restaurant Group, Taste of Tribeca, and Roots 2014 hosted by The Chef's Garden.

In 2014, Shari began hosting and producing "All in the Industry" on Heritage Radio Network, a weekly internet-based radio program dedicated to the behind-the-scenes talents in the hospitality industry. With over 25 years of experience in "the industry" from Charlie Trotter's to Food Arts, Shari loves having a platform to speak with passionate professionals about their expertise.

A native of Miami, Florida, Shari earned a bachelor's degree in Organizational Studies from The University of Michigan, and a Culinary Certificate from the Cooking Academy of Chicago. Shari studied abroad for a semester in Florence, Italy and attended NYU's Graduate Food Studies program. She has lived in Manhattan since 1998.

Shari is a past-President of the New York Women's Culinary Alliance, and a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier NY and the James Beard Foundation. She is a contributing writer for Fathom, and a fearless solo diner and traveler.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

I have always been very independent. I enjoy figuring things and working for myself. It's my nature. Growing up, I knew that I wanted to have my own business, but I didn't know what that would be. I found myself drawn to the restaurant industry after college, and taking various jobs which taught me lessons about leadership. Working for Charlie Trotter and Michael Batterberry, as well as a few strong women bosses, I learned how to take initiative and make decisions with confidence.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Bayer Public Relations?

All of my previous employers somehow influenced me to start my own business. From working in restaurants, from front-of-the-house to back, to boutique hospitality PR firms, I gained valuable experience which now helps me run my company day-to-day. Since I did not study PR in school, I learned public relations on the job. My career "aha!" moment was when I realized that I could apply my passion for culinary/hospitality to helping others' businesses through PR.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Bayer Public Relations?

Since I founded my company in 2003, I have had the opportunity to work with many talented chefs and restaurateurs. Highlights have always been seeing my clients' successes and how my PR efforts have contributed to them. Other highlights have been the amazing people who I have met through work, as well as the fabulous meals and events that I have enjoyed. I love being part of the hospitality industry, and I am definitely spoiled as it provides great perks. As for challenges, it's hard as a publicist to not have control of the results, but that's a reality. We are the middlemen (or women) to the media, but we can't guarantee press as it's simply out of our hands.

What advice can you offer to women who want to start their own business?

Go for it! There's nothing holding you back, but perhaps yourself.

Tell us about your role as Host and Producer of All in the Industry- what do you enjoy the most?

At my 10 year milestone of Bayer PR, I realized that I knew an incredible amount of people in "the industry" who had similar clients to me, but provided different services. So, I came up with a radio show based on these behind-the-scenes talents, and pitched it to Heritage Radio Network, the only food radio station and one that I admired. And the rest is history! I love producing and hosting my show, and having a platform to talk with hospitality and restaurant professionals about their stories and expertise. It gives me great pleasure to interview talented individuals and showcase their careers in a fun format. I also love sharing solo dining experiences on each episode, and hope to inspire listeners to try new restaurants and dine solo.

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?

Trust your gut. Don't ignore red flags when making decisions.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

I don't! I can't separate work and social. I always say that I have one work social life, and that works for me.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?

Honestly, I am not sure. I would like to think there are no issues, and men and women are treated equally. Most of my clients over the years have been men, and I haven't found that being a woman has affected my work relationships.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

I haven't had one mentor who has guided me, but my past employers certainly influenced my career. My father also has been a mentor as I always admired him for having his own law practice, and he has advised me as a sole practitioner since I started on my own.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

Barbara Sibley of La Palapa Cocina Mexicana, La Palapa Tacos and Holiday Cocktail Lounge. I met Barbara through the New York Women's Culinary Alliance. During my presidency, she was my VP, and then followed my tenure as president of the organization. She is always kind and makes running her restaurants, being active in the community, and being a wife/mom/friend look easy. I really don't know how she does it all!

What do you want to personally and professionally accomplish in the next year?

Good question. I've never had "a plan." I will just continue to work hard and see what comes next!