Next Up Columbus 2024: Ekima Smith

Ekima Smith
Ekima Smith

Photo courtesy of Ekima Smith

Interview by Derek Grosso

Name: Ekima Smith
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Age: 40
Profession: CEO/Founder – The Five Party & Event Center
Neighborhood: New Albany
Education: BSBA – The Ohio State University, MBA – Franklin University
Community Involvement: Columbus Chamber of Commerce: Small Business Committee, Membership Engagement Committee, National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) – DEIB Committee, Programming Committee
Quote: “We can go further together” – Ekima
Connect: LinkedIn | Instagram

Ekima Smith, the CEO and Founder of The Five Party & Event Center, has had remarkable career across the Banking, Retail and Insurance Sector. She has contributed significantly to finance and accounting operations for CITI Group, LBrands (the former parent company of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works), and Nationwide Insurance. Her expertise spans areas such as earnings preparation, enterprise capital and P&L modeling, inventory management, supplier relations, and departmental budgets.

While her career has spanned across the corporate sector, Ekima has always had a passion for event planning and design. In 2020, she established The Five Party & Event Center, a premier venue in Ohio specializing in private celebrations, business meetings, and children’s parties.

What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek?
My sons are my biggest inspiration and they are what motivates me and gets me through the week. I am very intentional about bringing them along on my journey, sharing the highs and lows of my careers while guiding them to focus on their passions.

What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
I am very fortunate to have had many mentors throughout my life. The best advice received from my mentors is to build relationships and create a network. This advice has helped me navigate the corporate sector and throughout my entrepreneurial journey.

What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
My Peloton! I love taking a ride or run to help me unwind after a long day.

What are a few of your favorite local spots in Columbus?
My favorite scenes here in Columbus are the rooftop restaurants and food halls. I love Goodale Station to unwind with friends. As a family, my husband, children and I love North Market & East Market for the variety of food options, making everyone happy!

When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
As a kid, I wanted to be a OBGYN and deliver babies!

What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
Podcasts: Bakari Sellers Podcast, Dollars & Sense – Frugal Freddy

What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
I am thrilled and honored to be chosen for this award. Having lived in Columbus since my time at The Ohio State University, the city has played a significant role in shaping my life. Columbus is where my family began and flourished, and now, as a business owner, I am eager to play a part in the city’s strategic development.

If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
When I describe Columbus, I say it’s a place for everyone. As a parent, there are a ton of places for family fun; the recent growth of Downtown and the expansion of the suburban areas (Bridge Park, Downtown New Albany etc.) has provided new attractions to the city! There’s literally something for everyone!

The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. The Columbus Young Professionals Club would like to offer special thanks to our 2024 co-presenters, Discover Financial, Columbus Chamber of Commerce and Edison Brewing Co. for their support of this year’s awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2024” »


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