Hillary Pagnucco trades in a precious commodity we never seem to have enough of and can’t get back after it is spent.
“My main goal is to give back time to the people investing in my services because time is invaluable,” said Pagnucco. “I don’t know how often somebody is doing things they have to do rather than things they want to do. I am here to step in and do the things they have to do so they can spend more time with their spouse or their children.”
Pagnucco is the founder of Divide and Conquer Personal Concierge Services, a business that takes services typically associated with the hotel industry and applies them to the day-to-day schedules of working parents and entrepreneurs.
“It doesn’t have to be a busy mom,” she said. “It can be a busy entrepreneur who really wants to invest their time in their late 20s or early 30s to make their career happen.”
Pagnucco has learned from experience about the preciousness of time and the pressures young entrepreneurs face early in their careers. She was born in Sault Ste. Marie, the youngest of three sisters, and had plans of becoming a teacher.
“I started at Parkland Public School then I went to high school at White Pines,” she said. “Then I ventured off to North Bay to Nipissing University. I was majoring in psychology but I was also in the concurrent education program to become a teacher.”
She found teaching jobs for young graduates in short supply and returned to Sault Ste. Marie.
“I went to Sault College and completed early childhood education,” she said. “I spent two years in Sault Ste. Marie working in the school system and daycares working with children with special needs.”
In 2016 she decided to move to Guelph.
“My older sister, Amy was already here,” said Pagnucco. “She was so kind to let me live with her for the first year.”
Pagnucco found a job as a nanny for two young children in a Guelph family.
“I cannot say enough good things about them,” she said. “I did everything from grocery shopping to meal prep to errands, planning birthday parties, family budgeting. You name it, I did it and I really, really enjoyed it."
The children’s mother, Alicia, became a mentor for Pagnucco.
“When I met her, my life did a complete 180,” said Pagnucco. “She was always asking me, ‘Hillary, what do you want to do beyond the next five years?’ She was always helping me move my life forward in a positive direction.”
Pagnucco realized that her services as a nanny went beyond just completing measurable tasks.
“By getting things on her to-do list done I was creating time for her to spend with her family,” she said. “While I was in the kitchen cooking dinner Alicia was able to play with the kids and I got enjoyment out of that.”
When her nanny services were no longer needed Pagnucco had to make a decision about her future.
“Between Alicia and my boyfriend Christian, they had me on the train of thought toward being an entrepreneur,” she said.
She enrolled in a 20-week course at the Guelph Business Centre where she learned to develop and market her business idea and was awarded a $3,000 grant to get it started. She took the name of her business from something her former boss used to say.
“On Monday mornings, Alicia would come down with a giant list of things to do throughout the week and she always said, ‘Let’s divide and conquer and get this done’,” said Pagnucco. “I consider myself a lifestyle manager. Anything someone can pass down to me in their day that I either already know or they are willing to teach me to do, I will do it for them.”
She sees herself as a time-saving pioneer for a popular new service.“As far as I know I am the only registered personal concierge business here in Guelph,” she said. “I think if you can find a career that follows along with your personality, you’re living a pretty good life.”