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Roberta A. Quartey: Disrupting the Notary Industry During the Pandemic with the Help of the Business Certificate

Roberta Quartey, a New York notary public and student in the Advanced Graduate Certificate in Business program joined SPS in 2018 while working full-time as an Officer at Mizuho Bank (USA). After graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2008, where she double-majored in Law & Society and African American Studies, she has worked as a corporate paralegal at many prominent law firms and financial companies. Although her original pursuit of law school was simmering in her mind, she always wondered: “Is there a ‘next’ in my professional career and how can I be of service to the people?” Quartey used her time and experience at SPS to create NOTARYii—a new, innovative notary service offering mobile and remote notary services across New York.

We sat down with Quartey to talk about her experience at Columbia, the story behind the creation of NOTARYii, and how the pandemic has impacted the industry at large.

What was the first thing that drew you to this program at Columbia?

The reputation and quality of education at Columbia was the first thing that drew me to the program. I wanted to be a part of an international community of students of all backgrounds that were united in an elite school of thought.  It had been over ten years since I attended school, so the flexibility of the evening classes was another reason I chose the program. SPS made it an easy transition back into academia and allowed me to specifically focus on courses that would assist with advancing my professional career and help me in business. 

What has your experience at Columbia been like?

Amazing and invaluable. My professors demonstrated a genuine interest in how the students were learning and progressing. They challenged us to perform at our best, to think critically, and communicate effectively. These were not just professors teaching theory without experience, they were all seasoned and experienced individuals who worked in the industry for many years and shared with us the real sweat and tears of the job. The guidance and the tools provided by the professors made my learning experience challenging and highly rewarding. I believe, personally, the professors are the secret weapons of SPS. They gave me the armor of confidence that I needed in order to continue to pursue graduate school, while working full-time and focusing on rebranding my notary business. 

A group of students gathers

What were some of your favorite courses? How did they help you with your professional endeavors?

When I started taking classes at Columbia, I was very strategic about the courses that I wanted to take—from Professor Hirschhorn’s marketing class to Professor Frederick’s “Delivering the Strategic Message” to “Managing Human Behavior” with Professor Bockstoce.  

Each of them created an open and honest environment, where students with varying levels of communication felt comfortable having debates, sharing business ideas, working in team simulations, or standing in front of the class and delivering presentations about topics that we felt passionate about.  Each professor gave us the right communication, management, and marketing tools to equip us with unwavering confidence and grit.

I remember in my “Delivering the Strategic Message” class in 2019, I actually did a presentation about remote notary services, and made an argument about how we need to get up to speed with technology and find a new way to perform notary services.  It was my call to action to support new ways to notarize.  Because I was equipped with the courses through the SPS program, I was ready and able to execute and disrupt the notary industry at the right time. 

Tell us more about NOTARYii. How did you get started?

NOTARYii™ is a new brand with a lot of history. In 2014, I saw a need to make notary services more accessible to everyone and started Brooklyn's first mobile notary service, Signature Notary Ink. Word quickly spread about the amazing benefits of using the service, and soon I expanded the service to locations throughout Manhattan, Queens, and all the other boroughs, making it the first multi-location mobile notary in New York City. No city needed this mobile notary service more than New York City.

In 2016, I began introducing new notary services that I felt would complement the existing ones, including hospital visits, walk-in services, and banks. It was time to rebrand the company to offer a carefully curated service that provides a complete notary experience and puts everyone on the path to getting their documents notarized in a safe, easy, and convenient way.  

In 2019, New York was still dragging its feet and not keeping up with the current trend of remote notary services offered in other states. The New York government did not see the necessity of having online notary services available to New Yorkers, until the pandemic. Once COVID-19 arrived, the governor had no choice but to sign an executive order to allow remote online notary services. With everyone in quarantine and people in hospitals requiring health care proxies that must be notarized, there was a demand for remote notary services that couldn’t be conducted in-person anymore. 

In the spring of 2020, during finals and the worst pandemic in history, I rebranded Signature Notary Ink and emerged as NOTARYii, offering eSignature and Remote Online Notary Services (RON) first in New York. Since April, business has been increasing daily and becoming a needed service during this new normal. Due to the high demand for quality notary services, a NOTARYii app is being developed for business and consumers to use for easier access to qualified expert Notary Publics. My team is also spearheading new ways to assist the blind and visually impaired with notary services.  

What would be your advice for future SPS and Business Certificate program students?

The first thing is to have a clear idea of what you want to do and what your intentions are. Second, be strategic about the classes you need and want to take. Third, nurture your friendships and relationships with your professors and students in the class on and off-campus. You never know when you may need them for advice or support. The program allowed me to establish relationships and friendships that I know I’ll have for a lifetime. 

One last thing, don't let anybody talk you out of your dreams—including yourself. Don't get inside your head and start self-doubting. Meditate, pray, and believe in yourself. Just get it done and complete the goal.

Learn more about the Advanced Graduate Certificate in Business here.