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Meet the DSP Women’s Panel!

On March 15th, the business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi hosted a Women’s Panel open to the entire school. The four speakers included Jill Lederer, Sandy Brown, Windsor Smith, and Sophia Parsa.  Jill Lederer is the current President of the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce, Sandy Brown, an experienced Board Director, CEO, President, and CFO, Windsor Smith, founder of Windsor Smith Home Inc., and Sophia Parsa, CEO and co-founder of the app Toot. They were all asked questions by the board members of Delta Sigma Pi, and answered regarding topics such as deciding whether it is best to get an MBA directly after undergraduate school or to wait and shared their advice with us. First, I’ll provide a little background information regarding each of the speakers.

Jill Lederer owned a huge portion of the Domino’s chain. After graduating high school, she was able to buy herself ten of the stores when they were not well known, and then ended up buying more and more until she owned 100. Jill had become the largest owner of Domino’s Pizzas franchises on the west coast. About eight years ago she decided to retire but that only lasted for three weeks. In 2009, she became the President of the Chamber of Commerce and continues to improve the community and give back.

Sandy Brown grew up in a small town in Indiana and initially started out by becoming a dental hygienist, a suggestion from her father. She later went on to get her Bachelor’s degree in technology followed up with her becoming a CPA. Sandy became a CEO/President of a Fortune 500 company as well as a board chair and director of Bank of America and Transamerica Securities. Later on in 2009, she opened up her own consulting company.

Windsor Smith has had three different careers in different companies but has ultimately become an innovative icon in the design industry. Her first career was being a professional dancer and opening up a chain of studios. As a dancer she knew the industry well and therefore became successful in that field. Her second career was a business called Baby Duckies. Her third and final career is being and interior designer. She was named one of the top 25 design influencers in Veranda magazine’s 25-year history and also published her own book.

Sophia Parsa is the CEO and co-founder of the app called Toot, which matches up students and tutors within a certain distance. She came up with the idea after she was unable to find a tutor the night before her college final, when her regular tutor had to cancel. Sophia realized there are so many people with different talents surrounding us and we can learn from any of them. She stated “everyone has skills and you just have to figure out who has what.”

One of the most relatable questions a lot of the seniors have been thinking about is whether or not to attend graduate school right after their first four years of undergraduate. Sandy and Jill shared their experiences and had somewhat different answers. Jill expressed it’s a different decision for everyone and if you can afford it then “the sooner the better.” She went to graduate school in her thirties, expressing “it’s never too late.” Going to graduate school helps to build relationships and connections which will come in handy later on when trying to get a job. Sandy expressed that it’s beneficial to wait about five years after the first four years of college. She said to obtain your Bachelor’s degree and then to go to work and get experience in the business world. If you end up working for a bigger company, they will be willing and more than encouraging for you to obtain your Master’s. They both however agreed on how important networking is: the more connections and relationships you make the better off you will be in finding the best job for you.

We can all learn a lot from their advice and this Q & A session was the most critical part of the panel. Sophia has been in our shoes quite recently and she said to start now with our ideas for entrepreneurship. Being a student means the responsibilities are fewer than when entered into the real world, so you need to prepare for a learning curve. “You’ll make tons of mistakes and you have time now,” Sophia explained. She expressed how we have the ability to make mistakes because we will have more time to fix them and learn from them. Windsor shared similar advice saying, “this is the time to give it a shot and go for it.” She said to take calculated risks and make sure to research. Always make sure to remain humble because everyone makes mistakes. Jill’s advice is imperative especially for those of us who have lower end jobs that just help pay the bills. Everything she has achieved has come from doing the job at any level of the job. The key is to “treat it as if it’s the best job.” And finally, Sandy’s advice goes along with her statement above regarding connections and networking. She said her biggest mistake was not making enough connections. A network of friends, colleagues is very important and more important is to stay close and in touch with them. Their expertise and advice shared will be very valuable for us as we graduate and move ahead in our careers. 

Singing, writing, and photography are what I love to do.
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