Women Who Exit Interview

Felena Hanson “virtually” sat down with Marilyn O’Neill, to discuss the sale of her business, Nautilus Environmental, in San Diego, California.

Marilyn O’Neill founded Nautilus Environmental in 2004 which became part of the Montrose Environmental Group in 2016. The company applies consulting and laboratory expertise in toxicology to navigate complex environmental questions with credible science-based solutions. The team conducts projects with a wide variety of clients and partners in commercial, federal, municipal, academic, and non-profit sectors across international geography.

Essential business philosophy: Everyone is a partner – clients, vendors, colleagues. Create an environment for others to succeed and get obstacles out of their way. Be a generous connector.

Best way to keep a competitive edge: Make decisions before you have all the data you’d want, there’s never enough for perfect clarity and not acting is also a choice (and not usually the best one). As someone who loves to know every option, this is a struggle.

Guiding principles: Collaboration, adaptation, optionality, creativity, gratitude. Love is in the details.

Yardsticks of business success: 1) enviable culture; 2) thoughtful, meaningful science being used for real decisions; 3) performance that allows you to consistently achieve 1. And one personal measure: 4) waking up excited about what you are working on.

Mentor: My mom. She left Scotland at a young age after the early deaths of her parents and headed to Canada to make her way where she knew no one and had no safety net. I always admired her courage and confidence that she would land on her feet and try to honor that fearlessness. Losing her to Alzheimers only made me appreciate her personality more, as well as the value of time. Also, my coach Eric Kaufmann of Sagatica; he is an indescribable combination of keen insight, raw leadership, and deep caring.

Words that describes you: Curious and authority-resistant.

In the nonprofit world, Marilyn’s goal is to be among catalysts for support of the economic advancement of women to create their own future via partnership with professional organizations and mentoring other women entrepreneurs. She and her husband are also committed supporters of several local nonprofits including Alzheimer’s San Diego and the FACE Foundation which works to create a world where no family pet dies due to financial hardship.