For several years, Newton native Jayne Siemens made her name in the world of opera, but now the former professional singer is making her voice heard in another way.

As president of her own business, Venice Communication in Shawnee, Siemens handles public relations and marketing for both local and national organizations (including some smaller companies around the state). That assistance to help businesses succeed doesn't stop at the office though, as Siemens has shared her knowledge with female business owners throughout the community for more than two decades. For her work helping women in business, Siemens was recently honored as the Kansas Department of Commerce's Kansas Woman Business Advocate of the Year for 2016.

Passing on her knowledge to help others succeed may come in the form of direct employment or a mentorship from afar, and Siemens has also taken on those endeavors through community organizations like the Enterprise Center of Johnson County and the Women's Executive club, continuing to pay it forward.

"I know what it takes because I started my own business 16 years ago. I know how valuable it was to have mentors help me grow and start my business so I could be successful," Siemens said, "and I'm not sure I'd be here today without the mentorship of other business owners and civic leaders who helped me get through the hurdles early on in my business."

While Siemens noted she had several individuals inspiring her and pushing her in the business world, one in particular who put her on the path to owning her own business and, in turn, helping others do the same was former head of ArtsKC Joan Israelite.

"Not only did she help inspire me to start my business, but she mentored me and her mentorship helped me realize how valuable that is to other people, hence the time that I've decided to devote to mentoring other people in business as they're starting their business," Siemens said.

Before entering the world of integrated marketing, Siemens pursued a career in opera after attending the University of Michigan and studying in the U.K. at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama through a Fulbright scholarship. Siemens sang in Europe and the U.S. before the competitive nature of the profession led her to look into other careers.

Always working in business atmospheres (i.e. law firms, hotels, ad agencies, etc.) for several singing events, the idea of jumping into the business world began to became a distinct possibility for Siemens. She started in communications in Chicago before moving to Shawnee to start her own business and while she may have gotten away from the competitive nature of opera, she was more than willing to embrace the collaborative tendencies that have proved equally important in both career fields.

"When you're in opera, you bring a team of creative people together and you basically can't afford to make a mistake in three hours when you're on that stage," Siemens said. "I take a lot of that into my business. What I do best is bringing creative teams together."

Many individuals can be involved in that process, from graphic designers to filmmakers to copy writers and, like in opera, they work together to engage audiences.

Receiving an award for her work is nice, but Siemens said seeing some of the individuals she has worked with go on to realize their potential and have successful careers has been equally rewarding, like a columnist with the Kansas City Business Journal Siemens collaborated with at one time and has seen flourish.

For each success story Siemens has experienced personally or had a hand in, she noted she has never lost sight of her beginnings in Newton either. In fact, she noted her experiences in the high school music program and around the community also had a role in getting her to where she is today.

"The level that they were wanting to achieve there made such a difference to me being a musician," Siemens said, "but also I've taken a lot of those things that I've learned from my teachers and the business community in Newton through to whatever I'm doing today."