Campus Celebrity: Desiree D'Souza


Meet this week's campus celebrity, Desiree D'Souza! This Toronto native and Cognitive Science student combines enthusiasm, motivation, and teamwork to head DECA McGill as president. Read on as she teaches us what it takes to be a leader of an organization on campus.

Elisha-Kim Desmangles for HerCampus McGill (HC McGill): Can you tell us a little about DECA in general and DECA McGill? 

Desiree D'Souza (DD): DECA is a leadership and professional development club that allows members to hone their problem solving skills thorough case competitions.  We pride ourselves on being an interfaculty club, allowing members to work with people from different disciplines and gain new insights.  We aim to provide our members with practical business knowledge and experience to prepare them for the future.  DECA McGill is a university chapter of DECA Inc. Case competitions involve presenting real business problems to our members. They then come up with a pitch and present it to a judge, typically an industry professional, who will then select the best pitch within the category.  We also hold professional development seminars and workshops, attend conferences and competitions at other universities, and host fun bonding events for our members.

HC McGill: How did you get involved with DECA McGill?

DD: I participated in my high school DECA chapter in grade 9 and have been part of the club ever since. I enthusiastically signed up for DECA McGill in my first year, and I can honestly say it is one of my favourite extracurricular activities!  

HC McGill: What is the most rewarding aspect about being a part of DECA McGill?

DD: DECA McGill is the perfect extracurricular because it combines the social aspect of being involved on campus, with developing problem solving and quick thinking skills that you’ll use no matter what career you pursue.  These skills are also extremely useful in class presentations and job interviews.  Additionally DECA McGill provides a platform for networking; members meet other like-minded people, industry professionals, and leaders from various campuses.  Beyond this, DECA is fun! We hold a lot of social and professional events. So members end up meeting people, making new connections, becoming close with a lot of club members and forming lasting friendships. 

HC McGill: What are the biggest challenges you face as President of the organization?

DD: Running a club involves a lot of organization, especially considering DECA McGill is a fairly large club. We have over 200 members, and 4 committees, in addition to the executive. A good way to preside and deal with this is to collaborate with the executive team members, make task lists and timelines, so that every week we remain aware about what needs to be done.  We spent the summer figuring out the timelines and planning events for the year 2014-15, so now we can solely focus on the logistics of implementing them.  I also have an amazing Executive Committee; they are extremely dedicated and passionate about their positions, and a great asset and tremendous help in running the club. 

HC McGill: What is some advice you can give to students who aspire to become presidents of organizations on campus?

DD: Get involved! Join clubs that interest you, and stick with the ones you’re passionate about.  Apply for opportunities as they arise - committees, executive positions and so on. Be dedicated to the club; show up to meetings and get to know the members and the rest of the executive. Being part of a club on campus is an extremely rewarding experience; you now have a whole other community of individuals to interact with, and a lot of new opportunities and memories.  Students should take advantage and actively get involved in McGill’s campus clubs.

HC McGill: What are some of DECA McGill’s goals and events for this year?

DD: Our primary goal is to foster a community within our membership.  We do this through regular meetings, training sessions, and social events.  We have two in-house case competitions, one happening on campus in mid-November, and another in the city sometime in early March.  We also attend case competitions at other schools including Queen’s and Waterloo. We host regular professional development events, such as Linkedin workshops, keynote speakers, and networking events for example wine and cheeses.  Small bonding activities include attending all you can eat sushi, or going to La Ronde together.  As for upcoming events, in mid-October some members of the Executive Committee and myself will be attending Harvard University’s Women in Business conference in Boston. 

HC McGill: Who can get involved with DECA McGill and how can they get involved?

DD: Anyone can join DECA McGill no matter what year or faculty. We welcome everyone! If you’re interested in becoming a member, you can fill out this registration form and we will put you on our listserv. If you’re interested in learning more, all the info you need is available on our Facebook page or our website.

Images contributed by the interviewee.